Inside the Publishing Revolution: The Adobe Story
Book Review

Inside the Publishing Revolution: The Adobe Story
Peachpit Press

ISBN 0-321-11564-3
256 Pages
50.00 US

Whither poor Xerox, from an all time high stock price of sixty bucks to the recent six dollar a share closing price, the future is not very bright. It’s tempting (though overly simplistic) to blame the avalanche like slide of the stock price on the missed opportunity of the original GUI (graphical user interface). As most computer users know the GUI was invented by hard working denizens of Xerox and then ignored by the Xerox brass (we all know what happened once Steve Jobs got a glimpse). Why is that explanation overly simplistic? Because it’s not the only thing that Xerox took a pass on, they also took a pass on the technology that sparked the company known as Adobe.

Where did I learn this useful tidbit of Xerox shame? From the new book by Pamela Pfiffner entitled Inside the Publishing Revolution: The Adobe Story. In between the tastefully wrapped hard covers you’ll find a more than adequate history of Adobe along with interspersions of art created with a variety of Adobe products. I don’t know if I should call Inside the Publishing Revolution: The Adobe Story a coffee table book or just oversized. While it certainly contains the requisite number of breathtaking images printed on heavier than usual stock it’s not quite big or glossy enough to fully assume the description that is the coffee table book.

Coffee table material or not, there is a lot of information expertly placed in Pamela Pfiffner’s creation. You have the aforementioned history and mini art portfolio, but you also get a nifty timeline at the beginning of every chapter that relates things you remember (i.e. introduction of the laserwriter) to Adobe’s corporate timeline and a sidebar panel that outlines Adobe’s growth and revenues (called Bizstats) as the years pass. It’s a beautiful book just to flip through even if you never read a word. Inside the Publishing Revolution: The Adobe Story is laid out in a stellar manner with just the right balance between full color illustration and the black and white text.

The text is the only thing I had a problem with. Pamela Pfiffner really likes Adobe and as such the book reads like a bit of a love letter. I wondered if the closing chapter was going to come with the standard disclaimer found at the end of every PR release (this book contains certain forward looking statements….). Don’t let Pamela Pfiffner’s love for Adobe dissuade you from parting with the fifty bucks for ownership of this tome. While obviously very pro Adobe the facts are correct and the timelines are dead on accurate.

That accuracy plays into a very interesting read (if you can get past the pleasantly distracting images). Adobe starts out as two bearded scientists, employed yet ignored by Xerox, start their own company. Typical rags to riches fare I suppose but this tale doesn’t stop at the riches. We are entertained by the spats with Apple and the still fuming feud with Microsoft. The winding road that leads to the market domination of Adobe is entertaining and informative with more ups and down than an e-ticket ride at Disney World.

If your you’re interested in the history of Adobe or if you just like visually a pleasing well laid out tome this book is for you. Trust me when I say you’ll have a hard time finding a more eye pleasing history of anything and the illustrations serve to document the technological leaps Adobe has made (or more precisely bought up, Photoshop was originally created by a grad student). Inside the Publishing Revolution: The Adobe Story is a solid and revealing effort, you won’t miss the scratch you spend to own the two hundred and sixty five pages.

MacMice Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Chris Seibold

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