This was an interesting post from Paul Raven at Futurismic- he discusses how services like MagCloud will affect the print magazine industry, and in turn, how that will affect online publications:
MagCloud has similarities to LuLu.com as well; basically, you upload your finished magazine as a PDF file, which MagCloud then lists in its catalogue for no charge. When a customer wants a copy, they log in, pay the cost… and get a printed version made especially for them… I’ll go one step further – there are server-side software engines that can be used to stitch together PDFs from HTML files, so you could allow your reader to custom-build a magazine to their own specifications from your stock of stories and articles, and then buy a unique printed version.
He makes a good point. I used Lulu.com to create a simple and quick book version of articles that I had bookmarked with the intention of reading, with the hope that I would be more likely to read them in print form. This has actually proved to be true: I’ve read through all of them now (the book was only 120 pages), and have already put together and ordered a second book- this one 320 pages long, with more attention to text styling and size, as well as page and cover layout. I think the design changes I made will make the reading experience easier and nicer (I’ll post images when I receive the new book). I must say again that Lulu.com’s service is excellent.
But, Raven may be right about a more automated approach to converting web content to print. Nolan Caudill, one of our developers, put together a book on Lulu.com around the same time I did my first one, but he created a script to take something like 500 pages of web content and convert it to a PDF. Sounds much better than the more laborious copy and paste approach I took. Maybe he’ll elaborate on this in a comment…