Too many stories! Too many ads! Too many pages!

Flexibility. That’s what all this comes down to.

When our student team initially took to publishing at Issuu.com this year, it was because our newspaper had lost its printing budget. Issuu provided a means of publishing when there wasn’t money for paper and ink.

In April our team used Issuu to publish a two-page tribute to a student who died this year. We remarked over and over again how nice it was to have the option to publish a mini-issue of two pages rather than the typical minimum of four required in print shops.

But in May we found that Issuu helped students solve an entirely different problem. It wasn’t that we didn’t have money for printing, or that we had too few pages to print a full issue. This time was that the students had about 22 pages of content to lay out (that’s right — 22 pages of their ideas and hard work). AND they had raised enough money through ad sales to cover the cost of printing as many as 16 pages.(Our ad sales were almost nil before the budget was cut — necessity truly is the mother of invention, and that should be a blog post in itself.)

So now the puzzle was figuring out how many pages to print (8, 12, or 16?), which pages would be published on paper and which ones would be online-only. There was also the wonderful challenge of juggling page layouts in order to accommodate last-minute ad sales. Can I just say it? These are the BEST PROBLEMS a student newspaper could ever have.

The students handled these challenges deftly, using Issuu as a cornerstone for most of their solutions. (I promise, no one is paying me to say this.) Because it gives them an online publishing option that essentially has the same production process as their print pages, and because Issuu publications aren’t bound by page quantity, students can easily shift the order of their page layouts. If a story needs more time to come together, it can be bumped to the online edition with a longer production timeline. If a page is suddenly dominated by a large new ad, students can add a new online page for the content that gets bumped by the ad.

Once again, it’s all come down to flexibility.

Our final publication of the school year will be released May 31. In the meantime, here’s a link to the newspaper’s previous editions, which have garnered more than 2,000 page views since our online launch in March.

My only complaints about Issuu at this point are that it’s difficult for viewers to post comments, and some readers find the full-screen view hard to navigate. It seems easiest to navigate with a laptop mouse, but a little awkward with a traditional mouse.

If you’re using Issuu for classroom projects or other presentations, let me know how it’s working for you, or if there are other free publishing sites you recommend.

Here’s to having wonderful problems to solve!

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