Industry Magazines on an E-Reader

Why aren’t there any trade publications formatted for e-reader tablets such as the Nook, Kindle, Kobo, Iriver, Sony?

I’ve asked several publishers of magazines in the processing sector, magazines covering the chemical industry and related vertical sectors if they are planning portable versions of their publications.

Sometimes they look at me funny, or if we’re speaking by telephone, there’s a pause while I imagine them looking at the phone funny.

Then, they tell me about their digital version. And I say no, that’s not useful to me. I hate reading lengthy stuff on the computer screen, and these digital versions with their virtual-folded page corners and zoom buttons, just don’t really help me consume this sort of content comfortably.

But I went and looked at several of the digital editions that I receive, and found—and the publishers didn’t even mention this, except for one—that some of them have a PDF button, so I downloaded several of these PDFs to see how well they would work on the Nook. I have the original, E-Ink version of the Nook, and I use it to read Barnes and Noble ebooks, Google Books public-domain ebooks, and Overdrive Epub ebooks from local libraries. I also side-load lengthy reports and content collections, and long web pages and blog posts that I want to read, usually using a device-management tool called Calibre.  A very convenient utility, Calibre converts several formats, including PDF, HTML, DOC, and can also gather up RSS feeds and turn them into EPUB format for consumption on e-reader devices. It does lots more too.

I downloaded three PDF editions of industrial magazines:  March 2011 Chemical Engineering, and May issues of Plant Services and Packaging Digest.

After experimenting with converting these PDF-format files to the Epub format that naturally reflows and resizes on the Nook, (the conversion process distorted the files to the point of unreadability) I transferred them intact, as PDFs, to the devices.

I read them on the two devices I have access to:  My original Barnes and Noble Nook, with its monochrome E-ink display, and my daughter’s much newer LCD Nook Color.

The winner on my Nook was:  Packaging Digest.

PD was the clear winner, and there was a clear reason:  When the publisher of PD made the PDF file, they put more effort into the quality and usability of the document. 

Mainly, they included a table of contents, which in a well-formatted PDF creates a set of hyperlinks that show up on the left side of the Adobe Reader when the file is opened on a desktop computer, and these links are very convenient for navigating within the document.

On the Monochrome Nook eReader device, the table of contents items are also recognized as navigation links for the document, making it much easier to glance at the titles of the features and articles, and quickly and easily select an article and begin reading (without paging through stuff you’re not interested in.)

Image of Packaging Digest article, Nook

Article Title Page, Monochrome Nook

The other two magazines also worked okay for reading on the devices.  But without the convenient contents links, the process was much clumsier.  I had to page through to the actual table of contents page, and when I got there, note the page number of an article I was interested in reading, then use the Nook’s Go To Page feature, which is a slider function on the LCD screen, and isn’t especially precise.

Also, on the Nook, in the issues without contents links, it was more difficult to differentiate sections of advertising from sections of editorial. 

Article on Nook Color

Chemical Engineering Article on Nook Color

The performance of the Nook Color was about the same for all three magazines.  Because I was forced to use PDF format, many of the functions that would make these magazines usable and vibrant on this 7″ LCD screen just don’t work.  Turning the device to read in landscape mode, for instance, doesn’t work in the native PDF reader.  This lack requires more pinching and zooming to read various sections of the 3-column format that magazines–whether industrial or consumer oriented–use in common.

Chemical Engineering Cover on Nook Color

Chemical Engineering Cover on Nook ColorChemical Engineering Article

All these problems would be solved by publishers releasing device-dedicated versions of the magazines.  The problem is, what about delivery?

Side-loading content to these devices is not a problem for techie types, and really not overly difficult for anybody who is accustomed to moving files of any sort from machine to machine–for instance, MP3 music or audio files from a desktop or laptop to a portable audio player like an Ipod or a Sansa. 

Still, ideally there should be a mechanism to make professional reading on these devices as convenient as leisure reading.

Maybe it’s time for the trade magazine publishers to band together and develop an Ap.  Chances are, some members of the industrial audience will begin accessing portable content on Smartphones or multipurpose tablets before they have dedicated  reading devices like these.

Insulation, Part 3: Minimizing Fire Hazard Using Mixed Insulation Materials

Insulation is nothing more than a large number of air pockets that are held in place by some type of material. For high-temperature systems pumping combustible liquids, these materials may consist of mineral fibers, compressed particles (calcium silicate or perlite) or cellular glass.

Insulating Hot-Oil Systems, Part 2: Controlling Fire Hazard

Insulation is nothing more than a large number of air pockets that are held in place by some type of material.

Insulation — Specifically, how to prevent essentially non-combustible insulation materials from becoming a fire hazard (part 1)

When designing or maintaining a hot-oil system, one important aspect is thermal insulation; adequate insulation is a necessary evil on these systems.

Even if energy costs were zero, there would still be the need to protect company personnel (especially overzealous young process engineers and nosy visitors from headquarters) from exposure to hot pipes. Not to mention the huge ventilation fans that would be required in the heater room to keep the control panel from melting.


Photograph of insulated pipes

Steel pipes insulated for plain old hot water

Hydrocarbon-based heat transfer fluids present a unique insulating problem because fluid that leaks into the insulation can become a fire hazard. The continued exposure to high temperature inside the insulation and the limited fresh air supply combine to partially oxidize the fluid into very different material.  Autoignition occurs when either—

  1. The molecular rearrangement produces a compound that ignites at the existing temperature and oxygen level.
  2. A sudden increase in oxygen allows ignition as is.

Either way, you’ve got a problem. This phenomenon is similar to the pile of oily rags that spontaneously ignites in the garage.

The next couple of blog postings will focus on how to minimize the fire hazard from insulation.      READ PART II

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4EQP4KFPZ286 and Two Shows in October

Paratherm Corporation is exhibiting at two industrial trade shows this month.
First, on October 13, is the Alternative and Renewable Energy event, a virtual conference and trade show on the ON24 online event platform, presented by Globalspec.
Also in October, on the 19th through the 21st, in Houston, Texas, Paratherm will be exhibiting live at the ChemInnovations Conference and Expo.

Slide Rule of the Month: #1 Relay No. 105

…we are going to be featuring a vintage slide rule occasionally in the Unsubmerged Blog.

No Business Like Show Business

I arrived at the trade show a few minutes after the doors opened; there was a fellow out in the lobby area talking generalities to early arrivals like me. I decided to skip the pep talk and went straight into the exhibit hall.

First I meandered down a couple rows, browsing the booths without stopping in anywhere. Most of the displays were modern, colorful, medium sized, and many featured video screens.

Before heading into any specific booth I scouted the peripheral areas, noting the locations of the conference center, the networking lounge and resource center. I checked the times of the industry presentations, made notes to attend at least one, and picked up a few publications at the resource center, putting them into my briefcase to peruse later.

As the morning passed, I chatted with several people in several of the booths. I learned about their products and how they present their services, exchanged business cards with a few sales reps by noon, threw my name in for several prize drawings (Ipads and Ipod Touches are still popular prizes), and then in the afternoon I spent time in the conference center listening to presentations, and in the networking lounge discussing the presentations, and some web marketing technologies, with other attendees and some of the presenting companies.

Throughout all of this, I was sitting in my office, playing my banjo, and eating Tastycake Butterscotch Krimpets.1 This was a virtual trade show. Actually, the above describes a bit of a hybrid experience, consisting of two virtual events, both on the ON24 presentation platform.

Virtual Trade Show Booth Thumbnail

Booth at Material Handling Show

First was the Material Handling trade show presented July 14 by Globalspec. Lift trucks, conveying equipment, data processing, supply chain, warehouse management topics and software, were all presented and discussed in the booths, in the chat areas, in provided powerpoints and delivered lectures in the virtual auditorium.

The second event I attended was presented by Vocus, the online public relations and marketing software developer. “Retweet: Engagement Means Business” took place July 28, and was more of a virtual conference atmosphere. Social media, web communications, blogging, relationships, Youtube guidelines, explaining Twitter, role of Facebook in B2B… Lots of 2010 marketing-buzz topics were explored, lots of resources discussed.

For both virtual events, the ON24 platform worked. People really did move throughout the environment and partake in all the different offerings much like they would at a live event. I did experience a small technical glitch at one of the events, suddenly finding myself in a virtual “Cone of Silence”2 when all the interactive features simply ceased functioning. Chat attempts and message sends returned only a stony and disquieting noninteractive emptiness. Logging out and back in solved the problem. The presenters were very concerned and responsive about the issue when I later communicated to them about it.

The Virtual Briefcase is where you put stuff you want to look at later. Powerpoints, PDFs, whitepapers, videos, links to web pages and web tools, product specs, etcetera, can be viewed on the spot, or you can click a little briefcase icon to take it all with you to read or view later. If you’ve met somebody you want to exchange contact information with, either in a networking area or a floor booth, you can chat, email, or exchange virtual business cards, with a click of the mouse.

Navigation may take a while to get used to. It does help to thoroughly explore the virtual space in advance, clicking all the links in the interface, to figure out how everything works before you go out and about.

Before you leave (log out), you can visit “My Information” and download all the information in your briefcase, and the contacts you’ve made. They email you a link to a zip file.

Have you ever been on the plane home from an event and thought “I wish I’d had time to hear that session on Chiral Symmetry vs. Specific Rotation with Biomembrane Technology?”3 One great advantage of a virtual trade show is that, in many cases, the presenter archives key parts of the event for attendees, or even new on-demand registrants, to consume later.4

Thumbnail Image of Virtual Auditorium at Online Conference

Virtual Auditorium

Please comment here if you’ve had some interesting experiences or have thoughts about virtual events. Also, if you’d like to discuss any of these topics (web interactivity, B2B social media, process industries, etc.) specifically you can email me here

Paratherm Corporation will be exhibiting at Industrial Processing, a virtual trade show event presented by Globalspec, on Wednesday August 25, 2010 11:30 AM – 6:00 PM EDT (8:30 AM – 3:00 PM PDT). Come chat with us about thermal processing. Register here

The archived version of Vocus’s Retweet conference is available until January 28, 2011 at

Globalspec’s archived events are available for 30 days (usually longer) at

  1. Just kidding about the banjo and krimpets
  2. The Cone of Silence was first seen on Get Smart starring Don AdamsRevived in Rowan Atkinson’s 2003 spoof Johnny English when the cone failed to funny effect.  Scientific American podcasted about the scientific feasibility of the C.O.S. here
  3. Well, I confess I’ve never actually had that specific feeling but I do remember wishing I had been able to squeeze in the Chris Smither performance at a music festival…you get the idea…
  4. In addition to the on-demand archived content, there are no plane rides, no sandwich lines, no stinkin’ (show) badges, no hotel reservations—making the virtual experience valuable, yet perhaps not quite as personal and vibrant as the living, walking, breathing organism.

Unsubmerged Info Post #1

Business Technology is another area we wish to comment upon occasionally in this blog. We will interpret this term broadly. Tools and techniques to enable business objectives? Sounds good to us.