Monday, December 28, 2009

Inside the Publishing Revolution, by Pamela Pfiffner

Inside the Publishing Revolution: The Adobe Story, by Pamela Pfiffner

The history of Adobe Systems is surprisingly interesting. The founders, John Warnock and Chuck Geschke, were visionaries in every sense of the word and their imagination reshaped the publishing industry. PostScript changed typesetting, Photoshop changed layout and design, and PDF changed printing itself. This book does a good job of describing the history of this revolution.

Inside the Publishing Revolution is told from an unflinchingly pro-Adobe point of view, but because the author doesn’t pretend to be unbiased it isn’t annoying. Being about Adobe, a company known for imagery, the book is gorgeous. Pictures are on nearly every page, many being creations by modern artists using only Adobe products. Truly, this is closer to a coffee table book than a corporate history. If only the same care had been taking with the copy editing.

The text is presented in chronological order, with scattered sidebars and inset time lines highlighting key and interesting events. Unfortunately, at times the text and the highlights aren’t well coordinated. The most egregious example is the note, “Geschke held for five days by kidnappers” in a sidebar; this is clearly a pretty intriguing fact, but there are no other details. Eleven pages later the kidnapping is explained, but for all the care taken with the images I found this to be really sloppy.

First Sentence:
If the modern publishing era began when Johannes Gutenberg developed movable type in Germany in the 1450s, its successor was the transformation that took root in Silicon Valley in the 1980s, when John Warnock and Chuck Geschke formed Adobe Systems.

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