FeedJournal is a service that turns RSS feed into printable PDF documents formatted like newspapers. At present, there is a free version that converts a single RSS feed into a newspaper-like PDF file. There will soon be paid versions that will allow subscribers to create PDFs out of multiple feeds. The tool is still under active development.
I asked for a reviewers’ account of FeedJournal; Jonas Martinsson was kind enough to provide one to me. FeedJournal organizes feed items into newspaper-like pages. For a sample of how the RSS4Lib site looks (for the period from October 22-December 10, 2007), see RSS4Lib in PDF (433 KB). I also tested the multiple-feed version with four weblogs (PDF, 189KB). This RSSpaper contains four items from each webblog’s feed: RSS4Lib, Librarian.net, Library Stuff, and Information Wants to Be Free.
The newspaper format — multiple columns with articles spreading across one or more — is easy to read and highly portable. A printed PDF is even more portable than Google Reader’s “offline” version; no laptop required. I can see this being a great tool for libraries to make easily-printed handouts of RSS feeds for subject guides, current alerts from databases, and so on. It also seems this might be a good way for librarians to show busy administrators all the good stuff that’s out in the blog world.
My only quibble with FeedJournal is the organizational scheme it imposes on the feeds. It’s a bit idiosyncratic, apparently based on fitting the blog posts into the fewest pages, not by relative freshness of the items or estimated importance. For example, because I liveblogged the ASIS&T Annual Meeting, I had an uncharacteristically large number of longer posts. The result is that the first page of the RSS4Lib PDF comprises one conference session and one short item I wrote several weeks later. Page 2 is the 3rd conference post. Page 3 contains the start of the 2nd conference post (which is continued on page 9). The 4-blog version has similar oddities; each page has posts from throughout the last several weeks.
Of course, FeedJournal is a pre-release product so some oddities are to be expected. I hope, though, that a future version, if not the release, will combine freshness with some estimate of importance (using Technorati, for example, to boost the most linked-to items to the front page). Having an easy-to-print and easy-to-read document is a definite plus.