Pop Culture Gadabout
Friday, December 21, 2007
      ( 12/21/2007 06:20:00 PM ) Bill S.  

PDF-in' IT: It started over a year ago: I was planning on reviewing a new manga title for Blogcritics, and I'd been in email contact with the publishing company's p.r. rep. In responding, the comics rep asked a question that was new to me. "Do you want a printed copy or a PDF version?" My answer to this query was in part no doubt borne of my years as an acquisitive collector: I'll take the hard copy, thanks. The company mailed me a photocopied proof, which I gladly read and reviewed.

Since then, I've received other p.r. offerings from a variety of comics publishers. But where that early email offered me the choice of going hard copy or PDF, the bulk of 'em don't bother asking how I'd like to review their books. Instead, they provide a short-term URL where I can download a PDF preview of the title in question – and leave it at that. I've resigned myself to the fact that most of my current graphic story reviews'll be of works read off my ancient monitor, though I don't especially like it.

Perhaps someone with a more modern, tricked-out home computer has a different experience, but, to my eyes, PDF-ed comics are annoying. Scrolling down the pages feels clunky and distracting to me: I'll be following the panels and suddenly the page'll slip down and force me to back up, taking me out of the story in the process. I hate the tiny splayed hand my Acrobat Reader uses to help me scroll, in large part because it doesn't seem to have a tight enough grip on the page. Too, unless I magnify the book to just the right size for my current 15-inch screen, the art looks too jagged – with lines that resemble the teeth of a hand saw. I'm also a person who likes to read while pacing around the study or while sitting in the tub, neither of which works with monitor-bound comics.

I can understand why publishers would prefer PDF distribution, of course: less costly than sending out books to a scattered pool of would-be critics who may or may not ultimately choose to even write about the work. As someone who doesn't receive a ton of review copies, I generally feel bound to read and blog about anything I receive in the mail – even if it's only with a quickie capsule review. The PDF files I write about, though, are ones that have particularly piqued my interest: either through a description of the work or the presence of a specific creator's name. This simple shift in promotional distribution has had an effect on the way I approach blog reviewing, though perhaps my response isn't typical.

All I know for certain is: though my knees still remember the arduous days lifting box after box of books and magazines in our move from Illinois to Arizona, I sure do love paper . . .
# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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