Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Has Hearst's magazine division entered a parallel universe where paper has only one side and pterodactyls steal page files?
No, it’s just some media writers having trouble grasping what goes on with ink-on-paper publications.
Jezebel.com reported a few days ago that the September issue of Harper’s Bazaar was missing 39 pages. That reminded me of the advertising sales rep who wanted to know why we were going to charge a client for a two-page insert when it only wanted one page. “Because we have to print two pages” was the answer, to which the sales rep instinctively replied, “But our main competitor can produce one-page inserts!”
Alas, Hearst has not changed the venerable women's magazine into Harper's Bizarre or somehow obtained the magazine version of Zen. (If Zen Buddhists meditate on the sound of one hand clapping, do Zen production directors meditate on the look of one-sided paper?)
Jezebel miscounted. The issue has a page 256, two unpaginated pages, and then page 295 – a gap of 36 pages.
There's also no truth to the rumor that voracious flying beasts were attacking Hearst's PDF files, despite an article in the latest issue of Folio: magazine. The article quotes Hearst's Sean Keefe as saying that a switch to the PDF-X4 format has prevented "raptorization" of its files.
In defense of Folio:, it quickly corrected the error in the Web version of the otherwise excellent article after being alerted by a certain anonymous blogger (presumably after the dead-tree edition of Folio: had gone to press). And a badly formatted file can definitely end up looking like something that got chomped on by a hungry predator. Only people who have been trapped in a room with prepress geeks eagerly discussing preflighting and file formats (". . . when you have unsharp masking and convert from RGB to CMYK blah blah blah") would know that Keefe meant "rasterization".
What Folio: lacks is Jezebel's commenters, who have proposed novel ideas about what's in the missing 36 pages -- including Jimmy Hoffa, George W. Bush's drug-test results from the Texas Air National Guard, Amelia Earhart's plane, and a transcript of the missing Nixon tapes.
Because pages 257 through 294 do not appear in the table of contents, I'm guessing they don't exist. Harper's Bazaar may have planned to produce 257-294 when it went to press with back-of-book sections, then dropped those pages when some last-minute ads didn't come in.
Or maybe the pterodactyls took them.