Like most family historians I belong to several genealogical and historical societies which means I have a growing collection of quarterly publications in all sizes and shapes. Although my collection is growing, my available storage space isn’t so most of these publications wind up donated to my local library. While physical space is at a premium at my house, I have plenty of digital storage and would love to have digital editions of these quarterlies.
Digital publications have a number of advantages – for both the society and its members. For the member, it means a library of searchable articles that can be accessed on either their desktop or tablet/reader of choice. Publications can be created in full-color at no extra charge and can include working links – both internal to the publication and external to supporting web sites. For the society, it means reduced printing and shipping costs. Yes, there will always be a need for print editions, but on a significantly smaller scale.
The most common society publications are based on a letter size (8.5″ x 11″) page. Second is the digest size (something in the neighborhood of 5.5″ x 8.5″). I personally find the digest size easier to read. It’s also a great size for making the jump to digital.
I’ve found that setting up a document with a 6″ x 8″ page size and ½” margins gives me a PDF file that can be easily read on both my iPad mini and my Kindle Touch e-Ink reader. On a larger tablet, this size makes a great two-page “spread” when viewed in landscape mode. Granted, ½” margins aren’t going to work on a print version, but if you create a print template based on a digest-sized page and use it to create the print edition of your quarterlies, it shouldn’t be that difficult to edit the margins and create a digital edition too. A little more experimentation could result in a “sweet spot” template that creates both a print and a digital edition with minimal formatting changes.
The first step is experimentation. Create some mockups and ask your members for their opinions. Keep your entire membership informed about the project, changes being made and how they will benefit them and the society.
Change is always tough, but when the result benefits both publishers and readers it’s well worth the efforts.