Join Michael Ninness for an in-depth discussion in this video From print to web, part of InDesign CS4: Interactive Documents and Presentations.
There has been a lot of talk and predictions about the death of print over the past decade or so and there is no denying that print publishing is facing unprecedented challenges with the primary change being the shift of advertising dollars from print to online media. Some newspapers and major markets have seized their print publications, new print magazine launches, are down significantly and digital books seem to be finally poised to become a viable and accepted option by consumers. That said, not everything is gloom and doom for traditional publishers. In fact, many companies that have more from print only publishing, to publishing across media or even holding their own or even thriving and poised to come out of the global economic turn down strong in position for growth.
Meredith Corporation is one such example of this print to web trend. Now you may not have heard of Meredith before but chances are you do know some of their print magazine brands, Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle magazine, Parents magazine and more magazine to name a few. Meredith started as a magazine publisher but over time evolved into a media and integrated marketing company primarily providing content that reaches woman at every stage of their life. Meredith published their first magazine Successful Farming in 1902, still in print today with a circulation of over 440,000. And launched Better Homes and Gardens magazine in 1922 and it's grown into a global brand which is ranked number 4 out of the top 100 magazines with the largest circulation.
Today, Meredith publishes 23 subscription magazines, owns 12 TV stations and has over 400 books in print while operating 32 websites. They started investing online in the 1919s and they launched interactive and integrated marketing groups in 2000 to start harnessing the benefits of the web and expand their print brands online. At the 2008 Digital Magazine Conference in Berlin, rather than as a threat, the Internet was described as a huge opportunity for traditional print publishers, because of the potential to reach and extend their brands to new audiences. In fact, it was mentioned that from most print brands, the overlap between customers who accessed magazine brands via print and online was less than 20%.
This explains why some magazine websites are actually branded differently than their print counterparts. For example, the website for Meredith's first magazine, Successful Farming, is actually agricultureonline.com. In fact, if you enter successfulfarming.com into your browser, you will be redirected to agricultureonline.com. This website serves a different purpose than the print magazine but as you can see the connection to the print magazine is prominent. At the 2009 FIPP World Magazine Congress in London, the Meredith CEO told the audience that they met their goal to acquire the ten million new print subscriptions they needed in 2008 to sustain revenue growth, 35% or 3.5 million of those new subscriptions were acquired through their online properties at a fraction of the cost of traditional response card acquisitions.
The price to acquire a new subscriber online was quoted as a $1.50 whereas the prints acquisition cost $20. That makes it pretty easy to see why Meredith has to use the web as an opportunity. In conclusion, asking if print is dead is the wrong question. The better question is how you create a strong brand that attracts the audience you wish to connect with. For Meredith, their answer is to deliver content whenever wherever and however their audience wants to consume it. Print continues to be a premium product they offer customers, but is no longer their only focus.
- Configuring a custom InDesign workspace for designing digital documents
- Building slide navigation buttons for interactive presentations
- Adding reflection effects to images within a presentation
- Using InDesign to build an interactive mood board
- Creating an interactive digital spiral-bound portfolio
- Using InDesign and Flash Professional to build and animate a digital magazine
- Adding a video file to an interactive document
Skill Level Intermediate
Q: After exporting a portfolio in InDesign, as instructed in the tutorials, the portfolio items appear fuzzy. The letters typed into the InDesign document look fine, and the PDFs placed into InDesign look as they should, but once the items are exported, the type is fuzzy. What could be causing this?
A: The problem described occurs when a PDF is placed into an InDesign document and then scaled on the page. When the final SWF file is then exported from InDesign, the PDF graphics end up looking “soft and fuzzy” because they are being downsampled to a lower resolution.
First, be sure to update InDesign to the latest CS4 dot-release from Adobe. There was a bug in the shipping version of InDesign CS4 that caused images in SWFs to always go out as low-quality JPEGs regardless of the settings chosen in the SWF Export dialog. This issue was addressed in a subsequent release. To initiate the update from within InDesign, choose Help > Updates.
When images, including PDFs, are placed into an InDesign document and then exported to SWF, the images will all be downsampled to 72dpi and saved in one of two file formats, JPEG or PNG. The JPEG file format is a "lossy" file format, and depending on the image quality setting chosen, the final images quality could vary wildly. The PNG file format is "lossless", in that it does not add distracting and ugly artifacts to images.
In the SWF Export dialog, the default setting for Image Compression is set to Auto. Change this setting to "Lossless (Do Nothing)". It is unfortunate that this option is named this way. The three choices should be listed as Auto, JPEG and PNG. Adobe has changed in this in InDesign CS5, but for CS4, one has to know that "Lossless (Do Nothing)" really means “save the images as PNGs.”
The plus to using PNGs is that the images will end up looking great. The minus to using PNGs is that the file size of the SWFs will be larger because the images are not being compressed.
2. Choose High or Maximum JPEGs
If file size is a concern, then switch the Image Compression option to JPEG, but choose a higher quality setting from the JPEG Quality pop-up. The default is set to Medium. Choose High or Maximum instead. The higher the quality setting, the better the images will look, but their file sizes will be larger. That said, the file size of a maximum quality JPEG is usually smaller than a PNG.
3. Resample in Photoshop and Import JPEGs
The method that gives the user the most control over image quality and file size is to downsample the images in Photoshop to the exact pixel dimensions desired before placing them into InDesign. Open the PDFs (or any other image file formats) in Photoshop and size them to the desired pixel dimensions. If opening a PDF, Photoshop will display an Import PDF dialog first where the pixel dimensions can be set. If other file formats are used, resize them in Photoshop by choosing Image > Image Size. Then make sure the Resample Image checkbox is turned on, choose Bicubic Sharper from the pop-up menu at the bottom, and enter the pixel dimensions in the Pixel Dimensions section of the dialog box (not the Document Size section).
Once the images are the correct size, save them as JPEGs, and set the quality desired level.
After the final JPEGs are placed in the InDesign document, do NOT scale them. Place them at actual size (100%). If a JPEG goes into InDesign at 100% and nothing else is done to them, they will "pass through" to the final SWF untouched. Meaning, they'll go out exactly as they came in. This also means the JPEGs cannot be altered in any way that would cause them to be resampled during SWF Export. Examples are applying transparency effects, drop shadows, etc., to the JPEGs in InDesign.
See the examples below, where a PDF was placed into InDesign, scaled to 50% of its original size, and then various SWFs were exported, changing the Image Compression and JPEG Quality options as described in items 1 and 2 above.