A SMALLER HAMMER

Newsletters and brochures with PagePlusJoy’s club was looking for someone to take over their online newsletter. And the person had to be expert in QuarkXpress or Adobe’s InDesign, they said. Why? Because that’s what the last newsletter editor used!

This is a classic case of overkill. A newsletter is a simple thing to create and edit; there’s even a template for it in Microsoft Word. So what the last editor did – or perhaps the editor before her — was use an $800 program (QuarkXpress) or $700 for the other one,  to kill a fly.

Okay, it wasn’t a fly, it was a newsletter, but the point is simply it was big-time overkill. If you want or need a lot of features, a program like PagePlus, which just came out in a new version, sells for $99. It also does ebooks, traditional printed books, brochures, etc. There are at least half a dozen other programs, like WordPerfect for Windows and MS Word itself, that do most of what any normal usage would require.

So what happened here at the club newsletter is actually very common. Take photo editing, for example. We talked to a clerk at one of those giant office supply stores. He had just sold a customer Adobe PhotoShop for $700, because the person wanted to edit some photos. Now there are a ton of programs that let you edit digital photos and quite a few are free. Picasa is a huge photo editing program, completely free. But the customer didn’t want anything like that, he wanted the very best – no matter how much it cost!

Good luck, Joe. You buy the best because you can afford it, and you think that’s the way to go. But the dollar cost of a big program is just the beginning. It takes weeks and sometimes months to learn how to use the tools of a major program. Almost certainly, only graphics professionals want all those tools.

We tried PagePlus for $99 and it was a snap. It even accepted the old newsletter created with the expensive programs and let Joy edit it as if it were new. PagePlus came with lots of onboard tutorials but she didn’t need to bother with any of them. The only thing we couldn’t do, that we could do in Quark Express, was make smart phone apps. But that wasn’t on our list of must-haves. There’s a free trial of the PagePlus at Serif.com. The starter edition is free.

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