by Kevin Goldsmith


October 18, 2005

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the DIY movement and its current nickname, “The Long Tail.” The long tail describes a movement where through electronic publishing and distribution small scale content creators can find customers and support themselves. Wired had a nice article about this last year.

As it relates to this venue, I’ve been wondering what Adobe can do to help independent content producers (or artists in non-marketing speak) monetize their work. I think that it is pretty safe to say that our tools are behind a lot of the digital content that independants are creating. I’m not talking about creating a marketplace or something like that. I’m talking about hooking the photoshop wiz up with the on-demand t-shirt printing, selling and mailing company. I’m talking about hooking up the video artist with the on-demand DVD burning, selling and mailing company.

Some of this stuff would be very simple to do. How hard would it be for Zazzle or Cafe Press to write a Photoshop or InDesign plug-in so you could output straight to their sites and preview on a t-shirt?

I’m being a bit deliberately vaugue on this because I’m interested in hearing what our customers think about this. Are you doing something like this and is there something that we could do to help out?


  • By Adam Pratt - 6:40 PM on October 18, 2005  

    I hope you don’t mind a comment from a fellow Adobe employee…I really wish there was an easy and affordable way to get tshirts made from designs I create in Photoshop and Illustrator. I don’t wait to deal with the home ink-jet kits but I also don’t want to be forced to order a minimum of 500. Zazzle is cool, but not quite what I want. A “Package for Vendor” feature would be really interesting!

  • By mike smick - 7:26 PM on October 18, 2005  

    I don’t think a quick output to an upload site is really worth the time. It’s already pretty easy to upload to these sites. I think the independents going through, the cafepress are concerned about getting color correct. That said, you could do some cool things like license fonts for use on products through these companies. Such as when I write a book to publish on cafepress, Adobe let’s me use their font for a discounted price this one time.Also, some of these sites already mention the Adobe PDF online as a way to get PDF files from word processors to send to the vendors. What other ways could make it possible to encourage these kinds of services? What about an online color check, that would search the PDF or image and test consistency with the service provider.Now my desire is to have a thin client that I could design on, perhaps written in Java that I can build pages and that would save to these vendors as xml semi frequently (not constantly), as I build the page. As I make updates, I’m not resending a proof, my page is updated live, every minute or so, with the periodic saves happening in the background.

  • By Justin McCarthy - 11:24 AM on October 21, 2005  

    Kevin,Integration with Adobe’s design suite is always high on our list of ways to lower barriers to creativity.”Print to CafePress” could make many of our successful customers more productive.One problem I’d like to hear your thoughts on:Success in a long tail *marketplace* comes from a healthy balance of product quality/selection and online marketing savvy — if designs aren’t accurately or described or marketed, they’ll be lost in the daily flood of new material.How would you envision a seamless hand-off of production graphics to a vendor-specific UI (which will prompt for all those extra goodies we need to increase the signal to noise ratio).Come for lunch, next time you’re in the Bay area.To Mike’s point, has Adobe considered expanding Adobe Online (services such as for large corporate clients? I’m sure we’d be interested to hear about a PDF-aware temporary storage “drop zone” that could preflight and homogenize document dialects for us./Justin

  • By thinman - 11:00 AM on February 10, 2006  

    Yeah, what he said. How bout some awesome webservices exposed so that you can map configs, style definitions, color codes, etc., through the adobe server products where vendor req’s and designer req’s are standardized.. or something. On the adobe client software side, illustrator, ps, indesign, etc could go out and let the user cherry pick what online service bureau he wants to map to? Or maybe not. heh. Sorry, too much coffee and not enuff branes!

  • By Megan Cunningham - 9:27 AM on May 7, 2006  

    I think the real opportunity for Adobe to help their customers/prospective customers monetize their creative assets is in video. If you look at the amount of audio/video content that’s being published on the web today vs. 2 years ago, it’s reflective of this desire. It is reminiscent of the explosion in desktop publishing that made Adobe the company it is today: they took over ownership of the platform by creating tools that helped companies –and eventually, individual consumers– make good-looking documents. Today the same opportunity exists with the Adobe Production Studio and Flash.Building an easy-to-implement DRM solution that your average independent video producer could use when exporting Flash Video from Premiere Pro or AE would change the game overnight –for big media, and smaller long-tail publishers. Flash could become the PDF of the media industry, if Adobe plays its cards right.