IDEA #48A – Printed Volumes Of Your Online Reading

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Avid Techquila Shots reader (and commenter! hint, hint) Colin Dowling had an idea that spurred from my Personalized Printed Magazines and Catalogs idea.

(FYI – This is what I always hope for when I make these idea posts — that it spurs thought in you as a reader and you get some other new idea. Feel free to email them to me and if I like them, I’ll post them with full credit back to you. Note: Your idea may then spur another idea by someone — and the chain keeps going, spurring new thoughts and ideas by all.)

His idea:

What about a printed book/volume that was published regularly for a subscriber (monthly, quarterly, annually, etc.) that was a compilation of all the text and image web content they had consumed. What if you could install software or a widget or a browser plug-in that tracked the pages you visited and extracted the text and images and saved them. Then, at the appropriate time, it printed them like a book complete with table of contents and index and mailed it to the user.

The user could even filter which sites he/she wanted tracked. So, I could choose to track Techquila Shots, TechCrunch, and Mashable and at the end of the year, get a big phone-book sized book with all the stories I’d read online printed in it, complete with pictures/images. While bookmarking and tagging solves this online, it doesn’t do much for accessing material offline without committing hard drive space to it. Furthermore, some files get purged from servers as time passes so more and more bookmarked links would become broken or the content would disappear all together. Having a printed archive would allow someone to say, “Honey, go grab the ‘web archive’ from 2007…I need to see what Steve said about rating videos because I know it was good but I can’t remember…”

I’ve been using bookmarks (del.icio.us) for referencing anything I read online, but I’m sure there are still people that like having hard copies. Particularly to ensure they never lose that content — which could happen if any of those websites go away. I know there are offline browsers, but maybe there’s also room for a service that does copy webpages you read to your own online storage unit — basically, your browser history is saved somewhere so that you can always go back and refer to any webpage you need to. Someone could create this service using Amazon S3 storage, which users would then have their own account with and pay for their own storage/bandwidth.

Per Eric Nagel‘s comment on the last post, it sounds like this print/ship process could somehow be automated via an API with FedEx/Kinko’s. Does anyone know of any other companies that you can send a PDF to, they’ll print it, and ship it to you (using an automated API)?