Digital QST coming soon

In his last missive to ARRL members in the Great Lakes Division, Jim Weaver, K8JE, reports:

ONE TOPIC MANY members will appreciate is a free, digital version of QST via the Internet.  This version offers the ability to read our membership journal online in a manner quite similar to that in which we read the hard-copy version.  It also offers the ability to include full schematics and other information that sometimes can merely be referenced in the print edition, as well as direct links to items contained in the ads.

Becoming accustomed to the online version may require a little familiarization, but I believe it will become a welcome enhancement to membership.

It is inevitable that two questions regarding digi-QST will arise.  The first is if a member can opt-out of receiving the hard-copy version.  The answer:  yes.  The second question is:  Is there a reduction in dues for members who opt-out of the print version.  The answer to this is no.  The hard-copy version is financed largely by advertisement, not by membership dues.

Digi-QST should be unveiled yet this winter or early spring.

I think this is great, but it sounds to me like we’ll have to read the magazine on-line rather than being able to download a PDF file.  I’ve never really liked these online magazines. Reading them is a real pain, and you often can’t download and archive them. Let’s hope the ARRL thinks about this when they set this up.

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  1. I agree with the previous comment. I think that eventually “dead tree” magazines are going to be priced out of the market place and go the way newspapers are headed today. As much as I like the ability to grab my QST and head for the “library” to read an article or two I don’t look forward to the time when the wife starts telling me that we are going to have to put an addition on the house if I keep accumulating magazines. And I really do hate to part with with them even knowing that I really need the space.

    I would rather see it distributed in some open source format but I don’t think the open source equivalent of PDF exists right now so Adboe’s will have to do. I also agree that I want to be able to read it without being connected to the net. There are still a number of places that I go where there is on RF access to my data. With my Kindle however I can have my QST with me in the car or the “library”. I’m frankly surprised that the ARRL hasn’t made this move already. I’m sure they would see a substantial increase in income by way of cost reduction if they produced a digital version of QST. I noticed recently that CQ has started offering a digital version of their magazine and are charging almost the same price as the print edition. This is probably going to be the next big “battle” as consumers argue that it should cost much less and I can see both sides of that debate. Either way I will welcome “digital” QST.

  2. I hope they do better than CQ magazine did with Zinio.

  3. Dan KB6NU says:

    John: That’s exactly the type of “digital magazine” I was talking about. I really don’t know of anyone that likes to read magazines that way. And, as I mentioned before, you can’t download and archive issues in that format.

  4. A digital QST is a great idea. According to this report, its coming in June 2012:

    I am not a big fan of pdf files for online content, but I do see your point about easy download and archive. I tend to think that online content should be online content, using well-designed html or similar. The worst choice is those dorky “act like a magazine” applications that are done poorly.

    • Dan KB6NU says:

      Bob: Unfortunately, it sounds like the digital QST is going to be one of those “dorky ‘act like a magazine’ applications.” I don’t know of anyone that likes them, and I absolutely hate them. I’ve already e-mailed my division director, Jim, K8JE, about this. I also asked him to comment here, but he either misunderstood my invitation, or has decided not to comment.

  5. Shawn N0PEU says:

    First this will make some blind members of the organization mad. If QST is not payed for by member dues, why do we as blind members get a discount? I along with many other blind members always thought the discount was because we weren’t paying for a print copy of QST and had to get a recorded or Braille copy from the Lubrary of Congress.

    Now that QST is moving digital I hope every effort will be made to make it accessible so government dollars no longer have to be spent on something that would cost nothing to be done right the first time.

  6. Dan, do you know what e-zine platform they plan to use? Some of them are pretty good, some are really bad.

  7. I must be the oddball then – I LOVE ZINIO. I use it with nearly a dozen subscriptions, including CQ and CQ-VHF and can’t imagine how poor the experience would be if those were only available in PDF. Using an iPad or other mobile device i would be scrolling around for hours to view a PDF file. With Zinio reading is a snap on all devices.

    Content can be downloaded for offline viewing but I prefer to leave most of it in the cloud to save space on my devices…

    But all this misses the point that digital publications are going to be vastly superior to static content because they will permit embedded multimedia of all kinds that will truly bring the publication to life. That can’t be done in a PDF – it requires an application of some sort.

    My only concern would be that the publications not splinter and end up using fifty different “Zinio’s”. I truly hope that QST will follow CQ’s lead and implement their digital version using Zinio…

    Jeff, KE9V

  8. michael pechner, NE6RD says:

    I hope so as well. There is no reason not to reformat the multi-column printed presentation as a single column presentation online. Also, no reason not to keep adds in the document to pay for it as well.

    The ads are one of the reasons many of us like looking at the old handbooks and magazine.

    I brought that up as a major issue for the digital copy of the handbook. Multi-column formats do not belong online. There is no reason for it anymore.

    I also asked if there was going to be a replacement benefit for diamond club members. Currently one benefit is that every issue is available online. It is a major differentiation for those that kick in significantly more money for membership dues.

  9. Dave N8SBE says:

    To those that think PDF is confining, you should check out the PDF creations from Lenswork publishing. I get a CD/DVD each month packed with PDFs both for laptop and portable device viewing, that contain interviews, slide shows, and all kinds of interesting multi-media, including ads with live Internet links.

    The media is what you make of it. It’s not the least bit difficult to make crappy PDFs, but that’s not the fault of the file format.

  10. “To those that think PDF is confining, you should check out the PDF creations from Lenswork publishing”

    Point taken Dave, however, Zinio and services like it handle all the work. I’m certain that CQ sends the same files to Zinio each month that they send to their printer so there’s no additional work on their part required to bring it all together plus they derive some level of comfort with the DRM provided such that their collected works won’t someday become another download free-for-all like we saw recently with 73 Magazine.

    Zinio no doubt takes a healthy cut of the subscription fees to provide these services but doubtless its less than what CQ is charged to print and postal mail real paper magazines.

    From the publishers standpoint the end-to-end service of Zinion (and similar services) probably beats hiring a staff of Adobe professionals to take full advantage of the portable document format.

    73, Jeff

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