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Web publisher takes step back to the future

John Seelmeyer

Jim McCarthy is an old-fashioned kind

of guy. He likes the feel of a printed newspaper

in his hands, the way the words and

the photos work together on a piece of

newsprint, the way he can pass a newspaper

along to a friend.

Nothing unusual about that? Try this:

McCarthy is publisher of a Reno-based

Web site, a fellow who made a nice side

income from the Web during the glorious

days of the dot-com boom.

Today, he’s launched a print version of

his Web product, and he sees much of the

future of his business in old-fashioned inkon-

paper rather than the Web.

Pocket Anywhere PDF Journal marks

the 29-year-old McCarthy’s first step into

moving his Web site into a print format.

Users of his Web site pocketanywhere.com

can download a free PDF version of the

journal after providing only some modest

registration information their names and

their e-mail addresses.

The publication they print from that

PDF file is a four-page, legal-sized

newsletter filled with articles for users of

personal digital assistants reviews of new

products, handy tips, do-it-yourself projects.

In all, it’s quite a bit like the Web content

of pocketanywhere.com. But

McCarthy thinks the financial future lies

with print products rather than Web sites

in part because he believes advertisers

and writers alike find more credibility in

print.

“Advertisers feel more comfortable with

print,” he said.

Pocketanywhere.com known as

PalmGuru.com until the maker of Palm

personal digital assistants demanded a

license fee for use of the name made

some decent money from advertising before

the dot-com bust.

But even during the euphoria,

McCarthy worried that advertisers had

unrealistic expectations about Web advertising.

And now that expectations are down to

earth, he said, advertisers want the sort of

accountability they get from print products.

At the same time, McCarthy said, the

writers he wants to attract to his publication

tend to take their work for print more

seriously than their Web-based work.

(The first print editions of Pocket

Anywhere PDF Journal feature two

bylines. McCarthy is joined by Adam

Purcell who, McCarthy acknowledged, is

actually McCarthy writing under a pen

name. It wouldn’t look right, he said, for all

the stories to appear under the same

byline.)

The PDF version of the publication

doesn’t cost much about 80 hours of

McCarthy’s free time and about $100 to

copy and mail the publication to some

potential advertisers.

Even so, the first editions drew about

3,000 registered readers. That’s a figure that

McCarthy thinks he can grow, and he

hopes to move to a publication in a traditional

newspaper format by early next year.

“Definitely, I want it to have the feel of

a newspaper,” he said. “I like the Web, but I

think people like to have something in

their hands.”

He said that’s particularly important as

his publication targets an average user of a

PDA rather than the hard-core, technologically

savvy users who frequent Web sites.

That doesn’t mean he’s going to give up

the Web entirely. He sees the Web as a

good vehicle for discussion groups, for journals

and for the sort of detailed background

that won’t fit into a newspaper’s pages.

His Web site draws about 30,000

unique visitors a month 10 times the

number that have signed up for the PDF

edition.

Whether the publication is in print or

on the Web, McCarthy is quite a ways

from quitting his day job as a Web developer

for the state university and community

college system.

The first editions of the PDF journal

include only a couple of ads at $20 each,

and one of them comes from a software

company that McCarthy runs. That’s not

enough to support a wife and two children,

with another child on the way.

But McCarthy, who bubbles over with

possibilities for the publication, is confident

he can publish and profitably distribute

10,000 copies a month by early next year

and grow his distribution by 10,000 copies

a year.

After all, he said, “This is serious. This

isn’t just a way to get free software programs.”


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