Sunday, January 6, 2008

The latest, and possible best, electronic format

For years, companies have been working on ways to put a newspaper’s full content online the way it was meant to be seen in print. Usually that means converting the newspaper’s production files into Portable Document Format, or PDF. But PayperNews has developed an alternative that it says is easier to use and preserves the look and feel of the real paper, while adding some twists that take advantage of the online format.

"You can have a business model where people can pay for a subscription over the Internet only," says Tom Maessen, chief technology officer of the Dutch-based company.

The problem with PDF has been that the file sizes are unwieldy, especially when pictures are thrown into the mix. PDF reproductions of newspaper pages also tend to be lower-resolution than the actual printed pages, and sometimes the PDF version does not capture all the graphics that are on those pages, Maessen says.

"The only way to get the entire newspaper is to use TIFF-G4," the format used for the four-color press separations, Maessen says. PayperNews’ Digi-dition system scans the digital versions of those separations and, with the aid of human checkers, segments each page into clickable elements. Each small-scale page on the Web serves as a navigation device: When you click on an article, photo, graphic or advertisement, a larger version of that element pops onto the screen.

Even the ads are displayed in sharp resolution, and they can be made clickable to take the reader to the advertiser’s designated Web site. The elements of each page can be archived, then resold for a premium as newspaper clippings via a service called Digi-clips. Those elements also can be recombined to create new products, such as a "Historic Front Pages" book.

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