Paper still popular in a paperless age

The future is a wonderful thing. The only problem is it never arrives. As we arrive in 2006, we have all of these wonderful gizmos and gadgets to make our lives easier and more efficient. Which is why, if you're like me, you're busier than ever. Yet we try to innovate, and you're seeing some of that innovation at PLANT ENGINEERING this January.

By Bob Vavra, Editor January 1, 2006

The future is a wonderful thing. The only problem is it never arrives. As we arrive in 2006, we have all of these wonderful gizmos and gadgets to make our lives easier and more efficient. Which is why, if you’re like me, you’re busier than ever. Yet we try to innovate, and you’re seeing some of that innovation at PLANT ENGINEERING this January.

We’ve unveiled our new Website (more about that in Online Connection this month) and we’ve increased Plant Mail!, our e-newsletter, to weekly distribution to provide you with the kind of knowledge you need as quickly as possible.

One of our more unique innovations this year is a digital edition of PLANT ENGINEERING magazine. It looks, reads and even turns pages exactly like the print product, but with two major differences – it comes right to your computer screen via email rather than your mailbox, and all of the Internet links that you see on the print pages are live, meaning you can click through on stories and advertisements right from the electronic product.

We’ve offered it as an alternative way for our readers to get PLANT ENGINEERING each month. In an increasingly paperless society (think how many e-mailed Christmas cards you got this year) this is just one more step in that direction. In reading the response from many readers, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by two things:

More than 2% of our readers have opted for the e-book version of PLANT ENGINEERING

Many more readers said they like PLANT ENGINEERING just the way it is.

A lot of people liked the basic idea of digital magazines, but many were concerned about download times, eye strain and the ability to print and transfer pages. The last item is important because we know PLANT ENGINEERING stories get copied and passed around manufacturing facilities from office to office and shift to shift. Our technical people tell me that you can save the electronic magazine as a .PDF file and copy and print from there. In that way, you can use the magazine just as you do now.

John Hinck is a big fan of the electronic magazine, especially the links to stories. “It’s a pet peeve of mine when something’s touted on the cover (with no page number) and then I can’t find it in the table of contents because it has a different title there then it did on the cover. With a hotlink, who cares? Click it and I get what I want.” Not only have we made John happy, but as he already knows, we always include page numbers on our covers. Of course, the links also work from the table of contents.”

In favor of keeping the print version, Cade Timbers writes, “It is easy for me to read, convenient for me to us ‘offline,’ relaxing for my eyes, and all around much more enjoyable. I can read the magazine when and where I like.”

When and where was an important consideration for Tom Frenz. “It’s a great idea but I prefer the printed edition. I can’t carry my computer to my favorite ‘reading room’!”

Perhaps that’s the next innovation, Tom.