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Help Centre - Buying Digital Editions - File Formats and Origin

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"Digital Editions from other Retailers"
  • Overview

  • "Digital Editions from Magazine Exchange"
    Quick Summary:
  • About Digital Editions - What will I receive?
  • Buying and Viewing

  • In Detail:
  • File formats - inc. watermarking & origins
  • Compression & Quality

  • The information below...

    ...applies to items that are listed in the
    "Digital Editions from Magazine Exchange" areas

    File Formats

    The digital edition system can handle a wide variety of formats but 'Watermarked PDF' is by far the most common file type used for downloadable back issues hosted by Magazine Exchange.

    PDF – Portable Document Format – files allow electronic documents to be distributed very easily and then viewed with a vast range of apps (including web browsers) on almost any type of device. You almost certainly already have the ability to view PDF files, but if required viewers are widely available for download at no cost - but if in you're in any doubts about your device's abilty to open PDF files then just try downloading one of the free sample files provided.


    A Watermarked PDF is simply a regular PDF which has an unobtrusive additional graphic added to it's pages for copyright security reasons - with, in this case, this 'watermark' simply being the purchaser's details added to the PDF file as it is downloaded. This information appears as a line of small text displayed along the left-hand edge of each page, positioned in such a way that this text shouldn't obscure any of the other information on the page but with it's presence acting as a deterrent against the unauthorized reproduction and distribution of the file

    Click image to see full size version>

    Origins - Where do the files come from and how are they created?

    There are essentially three routes to the creation of a digital magazine edition:

    Digital-only magazines

    The ever-increasing cost of printing and distributing magazines in print form means that an increasing number of publishers are opting to produce titles as digital editions only, and this might apply to equally to long-established publications as it does to newly-launched titles.

    The relative ease and cheapness of digital production & distributing provides a particular opportunity for micro-publishers and other new start-ups to enter the market, and the Magazine Exchange platform provides an ideal way for these new businesses to distribute their magazines.

    Digital & Print produced in parallel

    It's common practice today for publishers to produce digital editions of their magazine titles alongside the print versions, with these digital editions typically being encoded in a proprietary file format and distributed by the publishers themselves or via outlets such as Zinio and Pocketmags. In some cases these 'professionally produced' digital editions will also be available in PDF form from authorized Sellers.

    Digital editions produced from scans

    Digital publication is of course a relatively recent phenomenon and older magazines can only be digitized by means of scanning an original paper copy. This is routinely done by hobby enthusiasts as a way of preserving and archiving these old magazine issues, which they are entitled to do both since the original copyright holder will typically have long-since ceased to exist (even though the magazine title might still be produced by a different publisher), and also because those rights would not have encompassed electronic reproduction anyway.

    Purchasers of these items should note, however, that this does not mean that such items are 'copyright free' – in fact the law regards the scanning of an old magazine to produce a new digital edition file as being itself a new unique creation which is protected by it's own copyright.

    For more information about 'scanned' vs 'professional' digital editions also see Compression & Quality

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