With the advent of E-readers like the Kindle, the publishing industry has been blown wide open. Before, getting your book in front of somebody meant flying to New York and scaling the granite walls of giant publishing houses. Failing that, you could always go to some shady vanity publishing company, but their primary concern was separating you from your hard-earned money.
Nowadays it's much easier to get your work into the hands of your eager audience. Whether you're looking to publish the next great American novel or just want to get your family cookbook on the Kindle, we'll show you how you can use a couple of free tools to get your work on the Amazon bookstore.
PDFs. Why do we use PDFs? It's a question I've asked myself time and time again during the following scenarios: my default PDF reader crashing my browser whenever I erroneously click on a link to the blasted extension, an image- or page-packed PDF consuming all of the system resources on my work machine, and while I'm spending extra time to convert a perfectly likable file (.doc) into a new format that's compatible with even more people. At least, I think that's the reason.
But really, though, why do we use PDFs? Perhaps it's the wrong question I should be asking, however. Sad to say, PDFs are here to stay. And I must confess, filling out a PDF form has a certain elegance to it (and built-in digital signature support) that you just can't find in a standard text file or Word document (or OpenOffice.org document).
So instead of asking ourselves how we can rid the world of PDFs, we should really be thinking about the various ways we can improve our interactions with PDF files. That's where this week's Freeware Files comes into play. I'm going to show you five freeware or open-source apps that'll hopefully ease the burden you face when you're trying to manipulate this quirky file format. As well, I'll show you a few more features and tricks you can use to turn your own PDF routines into nothing short of a master class.
It's only fair that Google's browser, Chrome, use a Google-based service in this week's extension of the week. The name of the add-on is Send to Google Docs, but you don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out the ins and outs of this little tweak.
I was originally scanning around for an interesting way to tweak the functionality of a PDF in the Chrome browser. In stumbling across Send to Google Docs, I was intrigued by the solution: Rather than simply sticking more save options onto the download bar, Send to Google Docs gave a far better deal.
It's kind of annoying to have to wade through a bunch of PDFs on one's hard drive. Depending on your reader of choice, clicking through PDF after PDF can eat up a lot of system resources... and a lot of time. Why not just stuff these files in the cloud and let Google's speedy rendering engine take care of the rest? Or, better yet, allow Google to convert these PDF files into a format that can be edited straight through Google Docs itself?
By now, you've surely checked out Mark Soper's excellent guide for creating PDFs by using a multitude of applications, editing steps, and detail settings. If not, you owe it to yourself to give the article a scan so you're as well-versed as he when it comes to transforming ordinary files into these kinds of feature-packed super-documents.
As he correctly puts it, Adobe ain't the only game in town when you're trying to turn the contents of something you're looking at into this trusty, cross-platform format. Let's go one step further. Installed programs aren't the only way to create a PDF, period.
If you're on a new computer (or, for that matter, your boss's computer), you might not want to fire up the ol' Adobe installer just to be able to gain the right to transform your screen into a PDF. And sure, there are plenty of freeware opportunities out there that will allow you to print to a PDF. But that's still too many steps in the process. It's 4:59 on a Friday: You want to make a PDF, hit the power button on your PC, and be able to drink one-third of your "it's the weekend" celebratory iced tea before your monitor goes black. What are you going to do?
If the answer is "cry," then you have failed this exercise. But let it not be said that my heart is two sizes too small. For a little Web app exists--conveniently called PDFmyURL--that does exactly that. Provided the subject of your affection is a Web page of any size, shape, or extension... you will be able to transform it into a downloadable PDF as fast as you'll be able to finish reading the rest of this sentence.
It happens to everybody. You're in charge of a big project at work (or school, if you're a younger Maximum PC fan). A group of people all email you their changes to a specific document at once, and it's your job to merge everyone's thoughts into one coherent final project. That sounds like an arduous task even if you're equipped with a program like Microsoft Word. If you're just relying on your eyeballs and good ol' Wordpad, however, you're in for quite a battle.
So stop. Don't try to go through these many, many documents and the many, many headaches that they'll deliver over the course of hours. There's a handy site that will make your editing life much easier, and it's as easy to operate as your standard word processor. In fact, I dare say it's even easier than a standard Microsoft Word or OpenOffice.org interface. The site's called CompareMyDocs and, as its name implies, it's an awesome tool for quickly tracking the changes between up to seven documents at once.
Hear that? Seven documents. How many can you you compare in Word? Two. If that's still not enticing enough to get you to check out this Web App, just wait until you see how it works! ...after the jump, of course.