News

9/11 Report 'best seller' lacks PDF navigation

July 28, 2004

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Since it was released to the public late last week, the bipartisan "9/11 Commission Report" investigating the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States has become the hottest government-produced tome since the 1998 "Starr Report" that detailed sexual encounters of a presidential kind. Printed versions of the 585-page 9/11 report have apparently been selling briskly (for $10) at various commercial bookstores, and the authorized publisher has already ordered a second printing of 200,000 copies -- on top of the first run of 600,000.

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States committee spent 19 months exploring intelligence failures and other related factors, and compiled its set of suggestions to help remedy the shortcomings. The findings, according to the committee chairman, were intended not only for the president and Congress, but also "for the American people."

"We want the public to read the commission's findings, evaluate its recommendations and engage in a dialogue on how to improve our nation's security," he said.

If so, it's unfortunate someone involved in the PDF-generation phase didn't spend a little more time making the free PDF version of the lengthy document -- which includes more than 100 pages of detailed footnotes -- more suitable for online browsing and reading. On the Commission Web site, the full report is available as a 7.3 MB PDF file; an equally hefty, 31-page Executive Summary version (5.9 MB) is also posted. The document must be intended only for printing, as none of Acrobat's navigational features were utilized in the government's version -- no bookmarks, no interactive Table of Contents or links to illustrations. It'd have been especially helpful if the PDF had been properly optimized to reduce the file size to better facilitate the expected rush of downloads.

911 Commission Report

As a public service, we've tweaked the official government-produced edition, and are pleased to offer downloads of our enhanced version -- an easier-to-navigate and trimmed-down PDF (now a mere 2.5 MB).

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