The Portable Document Format, or .PDF, sometimes feels silly these days - doesn't it? Sure, they are often pretty - but they feel so static and inflexible. No more! With the new integration of contextual search tool Apture, HTML5-powered PDF viewing and sharing community Scribd now offers a radically new way to read PDFs.
Above, you can see an image of my screen while reading a PDF titled The Internet of things: Networked objects and smart devices. I highlighted the name of a company quoted in the report and with two quick clicks I was watching a YouTube video of a product demo. I highlighted an expert's name and was able to learn all about their career and find them on Twitter - without leaving the page.
"Reading has been a flat experience for thousands of years," Scribd CEO Trip Adler said about the partnership. "There has been a lot of interest in the publishing industry in integrating written content with rich media like video. This integration with Apture is one of the biggest steps that's being taken along these lines. A billion words are getting Apturized today."
Those are strong words, but really - the user experience is there and remarkable. Apture says that Scribd represents the biggest installation of the company's service to date. Other Scribd docs appear in the Apture search results when searches are performed on site.
ReadWriteWeb uses Apture as well - try it out here by highlighting any word or phrase on any page. Just this afternoon I used it to watch a YouTube video about a historical event brought up in comments here with just a few clicks. I am a big, big fan of Apture. Now that I can read PDFs with Apture in Scribd, that's where I'm most likely to be reading PDFs in the future.
Most of the time right now I read PDFs on my iPad. Scribd says it's working on a native iPad experience for its service, but that won't arrive until later this year or next year. There's not word whether the company will try to incorporate Apture there - but that sure would be great.