A Little Bizarre, and Altogether Marvelous

A few days ago, I briefly mentioned the fact that our totally radical magazine is also available in digital attire. It was on my mind because Dave Jenne, one of the production dudes at Zinio (our digital publishing partner), had sent me the link to our April issue. Dave sends me an e-mail each month. And it goes a little something like this:

The Apr07 issue of Stereophile has been posted to the Publisher Approval site for your review. As a reminder, we are expecting to receive your final approval and post this issue by the dates below.

Final Approval by: 3/16/2007
Scheduled Post Date: 3/20/2007

You may download the file by clicking on the link below:

The dates change, of course, but the message is the same. Zinio has done their work, and now I must proof it, simply making sure that all of the pages appear as they should; all of the ads are in place; all of the special digital tools work properly. And, almost invariably, Zinio does a wonderful job, which makes my task not only easy, but fun.

The magazine looks incredible on the computer screen. I'll have you know. The colors are bold, the images are crisp, the pages never wrinkle or tear, feature spreads look almost good enough to eat. What other advantages does the digital version offer? Well, the Zinio interface is wonderfully friendly and easy-to-use. I love it. It stores all of your issues for you, in your own library, allowing you to reference past articles easily. My own Zinio library of Stereophile issues dates back to our February 2006 book. I'm looking at it now. On the cover, we featured the Genesis 5.2 speaker. I open the issue by pointing my mouse on a directional arrow and clicking. Inside, I find a nighttime-colored ad for Cary Audio, proudly announcing "You know where we've been. You should see where we're going." On the opposite page, I find our opening essay, "Building Bridges," by John Atkinson. Within that essay (an excellent essay it was, too), I see a reference to our 2005 mid-October eNewsletter. Being that the issue is digital, dudes, the reference is like Extreme: More than Words.

You can click on it!

A new browser opens up!

It takes you right to that particular newsletter!

Oh snap!

Your world is HUGE!

Shit is dope!

In the second column of that same essay, John cites a reader's letter analyzing the statistics of Stereophile's equipment reviews. The letter, John tells us, is on page 11. Guess what? There's a link. You can click on it. It'll take you to page 11! Not only that. It does it with style. You see the digital pages flip. You can almost hear it. It sounds like the ocean, it sounds like the wind blowing through the leaves, it sounds like making love in the grass. It's a little bizarre, and altogether marvelous. It'll put a smile on your face. What more can you ask for from this silly little life?

Of course, it's not only Stereophile-related material that gets this sort of link treatment. All websites and e-mail addresses mentioned in our pages can be instantly and easily accessed. How resourceful, you say. Word is bond, I say.

What else? Say you're reading something really exceptional. For instance, maybe Wes Phillips is busting out with the proverbs all over the Penaudio Serenade, singing, "Without a song, the bush knife is dull," and you want to make a little note to yourself, you want to remind yourself of how cool that is, you want to come back to it later. Well, you can't just rabbit-ear the monitor, and you can't stick a bookmark it in. And that pisses you off. You don't want to be restricted. Plus, you've read the reports that say comprehension drops when readers are presented with text on screen as opposed to having that same text on paper. What's up with that? Well, I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and I've decided that it has a lot to do with the ability to make notes. Writing about a topic, someone once told me, is one of the best ways of coming to understand that topic.

But: Hold up. Wait a minute.

What you can do, with our Zinio version, is click on the annotations tool at the top of your screen. This will allow you to highlight specific passages or even create a discreet and lovely text box in which you can type your own random thoughts. Sweet. Say you're perusing our "Records to Die For" feature, and you get all excited over Matthew Fritch's Hot Snakes recommendation. You can bust open your annotations tool, highlight the entry, and make a note:

"Buy this."

What if you forget your notes? In that case, you can simply ask your options tool to show your annotations list. Duh. A sidebar opens up on the right hand edge of your screen, revealing all of your notes, as well as the pages where you can find them. You can, of course, click on the note itself, and watch as the pages quickly turn and bring you there. Flip-fantastic. Automatic.

What if you're going blind like me? You can use the zoom tool, which makes everything big and beautiful. What if you want to print out a certain page, or even an entire article — the entire "Recommended Components" listing, for instance — to take with you on the train for the ride home or to the gym? You can do it! Feel like sending a free copy to a friend? Feel free! You can do it. You can do it. You can do it.

This makes sense.

Am I concerned about the digital version replacing the print version? Nope. Why would I be? Right now, as I see it, there's room in this world for both. I will go as far as to say: They are complementary.

A year's subscription to the digital version of Stereophile costs $15.97. What a bargain, you say. Word is born, I say.

Laura LoVecchio's picture

The Zinio is a wonderful gift for those Audiophiles in your life who are "stationed" far from home. A woman called me recently to ask how she could get a back issue of last October's (RC)issue. It was for her brother who is in the military far away from home. He asked his sister to get one and send it to him. I was pleased to send her one for her brother. I asked if her brother had access to a computer. She said he did. I told her to tell her brother about the Zinio edition. She loved the idea and ordered one for him so that he wouldn't miss any more issues of Stereophile while he was out of the country. I love happy endings!

Stephen Mejias's picture

That is awesome, Laura!