The rise of the internet became a sea change for a lot of industries. Yet, few industries saw as much change as traditional publishing. Between 2002 and 2020, traditional periodical publication revenues dropped by over 40 percent.
In the wake of those declining revenues, publishers looked for ways they could cut costs and access new online audiences. In the early days, PDFs provided an excellent middle ground since most computers could open PDFs.
With everything becoming an app or website these days, however, many publications now need good PDF to HTML conversion tools for their digital content. If you’re looking to do things like make your back catalog of PDFs more web-friendly, keep reading for our guide to conversion tools and their benefits.
What Is a PDF?
The term PDF is an acronym for “portable document file.” Many businesses and publishers use them because these files excel at preserving formatting from the original version.
So, let’s say that a business uses a standard form for all new customers. A PDF version of the file is one that customers can, for example, download, print, and fill out. Yet, the business knows that they’ll get back the exact form they expect from the customer.
For publishers, the formatting of a document is often critical to the presentation. Magazines or newsletter producers spend a lot of time working on the layout of the text, images, and advertisements.
Once they get everything the way they want it, they don’t want that formatting lost on display.
Unfortunately, the rise of the internet and mobile devices, in particular, changed the game. Content must often change to, for example, display properly on a phone screen.
That means that publishers need that content in a form that works under those demands. That brings us to HTML.
What Is HTML?
Hypertext markup language or HTML is the foundational language of the internet. Every website uses it. Every web browser knows how to interpret it.
In essence, HTML provides the basic structure of any given website page. It tells the web browser things like what kind of fonts to use, where the footer should go, and where different kinds of content appear on the page.
While most web browsers can display a PDF, they can’t really alter the way the PDF displays beyond size. For really high-end PDFs, the end user can fill out parts of a form. That’s the limit of the PDF format, which makes it of limited value on things like phones.
With as much as 70 percent of web traffic going through mobile devices, that’s a serious problem for publishers. This is one of the biggest reasons why PDF publishers need PDF conversion tools.
There are a number of standalone PDF to HMTL converters out there that you can use. Some are free and some are paid. Yet, all standalone conversion tools come with some pitfalls as well.
Most publishers find it challenging enough to get their publications out on time each month or each quarter. You need to review the text, do your editing, select the images, and even negotiate with advertisers. It’s a full-time job at the best of times.
Even with a free standalone tool, someone must feed those old PDFs into the program and convert them into HTML. If your publication is 20 years old and you publish monthly, that can mean as many as 240 files to convert.
Sure, it’s not an insurmountable number, but it’s not a project someone will knock out in an afternoon.
Even after you get your PDFs into an HTML format, you still need them up on the web. Let’s say that you have an intern convert all of the files. Odds are good that they don’t have the skills necessary to load all of those files onto your servers.
That means you need someone in your IT department to handle those uploads. Given the ongoing shortages in the IT field, your IT people probably have a lot on their plates already.
Beyond those basic challenges, if you want your content readable for mobile devices, you need more than simple HTML. You need the content converted into responsive HTML. This is HTML that will adjust your content on the fly for the appropriate screen size.
For that, you must either lean on your IT department even more or bring in a web developer to check over the code.
While DIY solutions are likely fine if you’re just looking to convert a few files, it becomes increasingly untenable when you’re looking at converting hundreds of them.
Your other main option is professional conversion services. With pro conversion services, you still end up with your content in an HTML format, but you get some other advantages as well.
For one thing, you can often submit all of your old documents at the same time or do them in batches. There’s no need for Jimmy, the intern, to spend weeks staring at a computer screen and converting files.
If you pick the right conversion service, you can also get those files back already structured as responsive HTML. That cuts out the need to ask your IT people or find a web developer to make them responsive.
That lets you focus your efforts on making sure the files get to the right places on your website for your subscribers to access them.
PDF to HTML Conversion and You
For publishers that switched over from traditional publishing to PDF publishing or did both, the changes in how people use the internet calls for a new adjustment. You need PDF to HTML conversion to make that content more easily available.
You can opt for DIY solutions. Just make sure you’re ready for all the work that goes into converting and getting those files loaded onto your website.
You can also opt for professional conversion services that convert files into responsive HTML in batches.
Magloft specializes in professional PDF to HTML conversions. For more information about our services, contact Magloft today.