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Reading magazines online

Many years ago as the newspaper industry was trying to figure out how to migrate to the web, one Texas early-adopter began publishing online with a program called Olive.

If you wanted to read the online version, you pulled it up on your computer screen and then clicked through pages that looked exactly like they were in the print version. In other words, they put something like a PDF online.

Pretty soon, some magazines began publishing that way, too, and I recall getting an industry journal that had an additional feature: You could use a "magnifying glass" tool to zoom in on parts of the page.

I thought this was all pretty clunky, definitely not the wave of the future for print publications.

But, recently I signed up to join a national organization, and one of the perks was supposed to be a subscription to the group's monthly magazine. Yesterday, the "magazine" came via an emailed link to an Olive-type, PDF-like version of the publication.

I do understand -- far better than most -- why publishers want to go to this kind of technology to deliver their products because I know how much it costs to run a print-media organization almost down to the cent.

I am not a satisfied customer, however, because I was not told up-front that the subscription would be filled with a virtual edition rather than a mailed priinted piece, and because the experience of "reading" this kind of publication is not for me.

Publishers are going to have to figure out a way to survive that gives readers a great experience not one that turns them off.

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