The latest electronic gadget, just in time for the holidays

We have big news here at H&P! Subscribers now have the option of receiving Hydraulics & Pneumatics in digital format. Readers who choose this service will receive an e-mail every month with a hyperlink to a website containing that month's issue of Hydraulics & Pneumatics. But don't worry about no longer having a copy of H&P delivered to your desk every month. This is an opt-in program, so subscribers who want to continue receiving their printed magazine need only keep their subscription up-to-date as usual.

Over the last few weeks, we've been testing the digital version of Hydraulics & Pneumatics. I think it's pretty slick, myself. Clicking on the hyperlink takes you to a website where you'll see the front cover of the issue and some simple navigation buttons. You can click on certain areas of the cover and go straight to a particular article. If you want to see a more complete summary of what's in the issue, you can go to the contents page. But if you want to just page through the issue, you can click on an arrow that lets you browse page by page.

But in spite of easy navigation and beautiful presentation, speed rules. You don't have to download anything, so you don't have to wait for your computer to save a bunch of material. Newer computers go from page to page with blazing speed. Even my four-year-old Powerbook required just over a second to go from one page to another.

To get subscribers' reactions, Bobbie Macy, our circulation manager, sent an e-mail to several thousand readers to present a sample issue to them and ask for their feedback. And feedback is what she got — lots of it. Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of respondents likes the digital version and many were quite impressed. There was no shortage of interesting comments, but the general reaction was about what I expected. Probably 90% of the respondents said that even though they like the digital version, they still have a strong preference for the printed magazine. And my guess is that most of those who prefer the digital version are less than 30 years old.

We can send out thousands of copies of the digital magazine with no additional cost for paper, printing, and postage — the three biggest expenses of publishing a magazine. But there are, of course, costs associated with the electronic version, so we can't offer it for free to anyone. Qualified domestic subscribers can opt-in to receive a free electronic version instead of their printed subscription. Or for a small fee ($1.25/issue), they can get both versions.

If you'd like to test drive a digital issue, just go to, and feel free to drop us an e-mail to let us know what you think.