The Keeper of the iBook

Print 2000

By Mark Newhouse, <>
June 5, 2000

A free Apple sponsored seminar, and it was taking place "up the road" in Phoenix.

Most of you have figured out by now that I am a web designer. As part of my job I interface with the photo/imaging services group at our site on a regular basis. So it seemed a natural to attend the Print 2000 seminar with our imaging expert.

The seminar was co-sponsored by Adobe, and included several print-related vendors who were showing their wares. These ranged from impressive high-end Xerox color copier/printers with a dedicated G4 RIP that connects it all to a network ($20K for the copier, and another $10K+ for the G4 RIP front-end!) to high-end color calibration products, and print management workflow software.

Why was I there?

To pick up some swag. I was also hoping for a sneak-peak at OS X. As it was a small show, the swag was rare, but I did get a nice cap from Noosh. OS X was a no-show. Oh well. I was really there to see how we might do a better job of coordinating the print and web functions of our group. Adobe is doing its best to keep a foot firmly planted in each camp, and they seem to be doing an admirable job, at that.

The digital revolution, ebooks and the future of print

Industry pundits and high-profile executives continue to predict the death of the printed book. Steven King's Ride the Bullet mini-novel foray into that space has shown that there is still a ways to go in that area. And even though Adobe, and their Acrobat pdf product played a large role in making the Macintosh version of Ride the Bullet a reality, it was clear from their presentations that they believe rumors of print's death to be greatly exaggerated. In spite of their role in propagating the myth. In fact, the very technology that enabled Steven King's ebook to exist on the Mac is being pushed as the answer to the print workflow. From editing and proofing, to making corrections, and all the way through to delivering the digital file to the print bureau, it can all be done with Acrobat.

I'm not talking about the free, Acrobat Reader, but the full authoring and editing version. The one you pay money for. It is powerful software, and the Adobe reps did a good job of showcasing its advanced features.

So print is no where near dead, very far from it, in fact. I have yet to finish wading through just 68 pages of Ride the Bullet. I can't imagine reading a longer, more robust work, like say Moby Dick or War and Peace. If they ever finish work on display technology that works as well, and looks as good as the printed page, then we can talk about the demise of print. But I don't see that happening, for a reasonable price, in the near future.

Keeping one foot firmly planted in each camp is wise. Apple is using pdf (portable document format, the technology Acrobat is based on), as the base technology of Quartz, their screen display technology for OSX. As pdf for print and display mature, along with innovative new hardware displays becoming available at reasonable costs, Adobe and Apple will be in the right position to take full advantage of them.

And that just makes sense.

Mark Newhouse is the Web Designer for the public outreach arm of the National Optical Astronomy Observatories in Tucson, AZ, where he gets paid to do what he enjoys. How cool is that?

The iBook image is courtesy Apple Computer, Inc. The iBook icon is courtesy the Iconfactory.

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