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PDF or hard copy?


p_clapham

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Which format do you prefer for your gaming collection? I like physical books, but at the same time I like how electronic copies take up less space, and that I can read them on my computer, kindle, or phone. I find if I really like the book at some point I will acquire a physical copy as well.

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Ideally I want both.

If I'm going to run a game I want a hard copy at the table... and a PDF on my iPad.

If I'm just mining it for ideas then PDF is fine... I buy lots of cheap PDFs just out of curiousity.

If I really like something... even just the art in it... I'll want it in hard copy eventually.

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Its great having pdfs, I never cared much for them on the desktop (although they were handy at times), but having an entire rpg collrction in one tablet is a grand concept thats hard not to like.

 

However, rpg rulebooks & resources, like all reference books, are quite nice to have physical copies of, and I love my physical library. I wish more rpg books were in hard cover format, it trumps pdfs and I love seeing them in the bookcase.

 

I can see paperback novels going the way of the dinosaur, but nothing beats a good hard cover tome

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" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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I like hard copy rulebooks for games I actually play, but pdfs are good for exploring new concepts or games. In some cases I've bought pdfs to read and liked them so much I've bought the hard copy too. I don't find pdfs ideal for the gaming table, but they have their place. For searchability and speed I'd prefer it if more gaming companies released epubs rather than pdfs.

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Generally I prefer hardcopy for core rules or rules players would reference (new skills, magic systems, etc.), and PDFs for the rest (adventures, variant rules, spot rules, etc.).

Frank

"Welcome to the hottest and fastest-growing hobby of, er, 1977." -- The Laundry RPG
 
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I usually get both if they are available. I prefer reading the hardcopy at home, but when I go somewhere else to game, if I can get a PDF copy as well, then I can access it from a laptop or tablet and not have to lug the hardcopy around with me!

Skunk - 285/420 BRP book

You wanna be alright you gotta walk tall

Long Beach Dub Allstars & Black Eyed Peas

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One thing I forgot to mention was that I wish more publishers would publish their work in ePub format in addition to PDF. I would be easier to read on a small, cheap e-book reader that I happen to own, that doesn't do PDF very well, i.e. does not re-flow the text from two colums to be more readable on a small, narrow e-ink screen. PDF as a format is mostly designed for print, after all.

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While I value the access PDF gives me to quality gaming materials, I find I can't actually use and run a role-playing product in that format much longer than 10 pages.  Even a 30-page booklet is too much.  So, hard copy.  As with pulpcitizen, brief PDF adventures are fine.

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Although I have a bookcase full of RPG books, I only buy PDFs nowadays.

 

For portability, ease of use and convenience, they win hands down.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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The problem with ePUB format is it doesn't do anything but plain text novels very well so it's generally crap for reference books which is what an RPG book tends to become when you use it in play.

Well, I converted the into ePub for reading on the e-reader and it worked fine. The only problem was having to zoom out to fit some larger tables on the small screen. Sure, the device isn't very handy for referencing the book, but for reading its much better than a regular computer screen.

 

But yes, maybe there is little added value for publishers in making an ePub-version. For me this problem would also be solved if PDFs had text flow information, like columns in a way that conversion would be possible. Since this is seldom the case, I have even less incentive to buy electronic books.

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I also like PDFs if they're created as text and not images. That way, I can grab portions of the text to use in my own documents. For instance, I've written up a character creation document for my fantasy BRP game and I used the BGB as the basis for my document. Also allowed me to grab certain sections without having to re-type them!

Skunk - 285/420 BRP book

You wanna be alright you gotta walk tall

Long Beach Dub Allstars & Black Eyed Peas

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Well, I converted the into ePub for reading on the e-reader and it worked fine. The only problem was having to zoom out to fit some larger tables on the small screen. Sure, the device isn't very handy for referencing the book, but for reading its much better than a regular computer screen.

 

But yes, maybe there is little added value for publishers in making an ePub-version. For me this problem would also be solved if PDFs had text flow information, like columns in a way that conversion would be possible. Since this is seldom the case, I have even less incentive to buy electronic books.

It's fine for reading but how often do you read an RPG if you are running a game, zero. You reference bits of the rules and searching ePUB's isn't easy because the page is different on each device that's differently sized for example. It may be page 5 on your 10" tablet, page 7 on your 7" tablet and page 11 on the phone.

 

There is no added value for a publisher, one or two have tried it, and the result was poor at best. The additional cost of dealing with a different format (and it's not just outputting from the Indesign package) are way more than any additional sales will generate in the format. I'd be a big fan of ePUB if people followed the latest standard and didn't keep deploying their own personal variant to lock people in to their proprietary platform (Amazon I'm looking at you). Most material is output in formats that aren't the latest standard just variants of old versions with proprietary DRM on top.

Nigel

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It's fine for reading but how often do you read an RPG if you are running a game, zero. You reference bits of the rules and searching ePUB's isn't easy because the page is different on each device that's differently sized for example. It may be page 5 on your 10" tablet, page 7 on your 7" tablet and page 11 on the phone.

 

ePUBs can have hyperlinks and a master index. If you use format styles for headings some programs generate the index automatically. Readers now have a button to access the index anytime. But you still have the layout issues when using tables, and also big differences between one reader and others with font sizes or some font attributes.

Check my Lobo Blanco - Elric RPG (now in english!)

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ePUBs can have hyperlinks and a master index. If you use format styles for headings some programs generate the index automatically. Readers now have a button to access the index anytime. But you still have the layout issues when using tables, and also big differences between one reader and others with font sizes or some font attributes.

That the problem raising`its head again. If the layout person has to do a different set of instructions for an ePUB version that is roughly six pages an hour at about USD60 per hour to do any alterations and the sales have to justify that. How many people will buy the ePUB version over a PDF compared to a hard copy. How many gamers even know the difference between an ePUB version and a PDF when it renders in a very similar way on their tablet. What proportion of the RPG buying public have an eReader rather than a tablet?

Nigel

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That the problem raising`its head again. If the layout person has to do a different set of instructions for an ePUB version that is roughly six pages an hour at about USD60 per hour to do any alterations and the sales have to justify that. How many people will buy the ePUB version over a PDF compared to a hard copy. How many gamers even know the difference between an ePUB version and a PDF when it renders in a very similar way on their tablet. What proportion of the RPG buying public have an eReader rather than a tablet?

 

If they have moved to InDesign CS6 or CC I think that distinction is gone and should minimize cost associated with creating an additional format. The program will automatically reformat. And, honestly, in ePub there is minimal layout. It is designed to free flow depending on the size of screen and choice of font. If the industry ever embraces ePub3, other issues should resolve too, such as better support for tables and anchored graphics and other media elements.

 

I think the biggest barrier to adoption is the fact that the electronic book world is still fragmented. Do I produce for Kindle, or do I produce an ePub? 

 

SDLeary

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The problem with ePUB format is it doesn't do anything but plain text novels very well so it's generally crap for reference books which is what an RPG book tends to become when you use it in play.

ePUB version 3 does a lot of things better than epub 2.

It requires a different set of skills to pdf design to get an epub looking good .

However, I think they are better for fast rendering and indexing than pdfs, and they work in slim and cheap e-readers.

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ePUB3 is not widely used  as far as I can tell. Every picture or table in an ePUB2 book moves to fit the format of the device so it's hard to design a publication that can be used as a reference which is what an RPG book is in play.

 

SDLeary has it summed up with his comment about the fragmented world of eReaders. With Amazon trying to use the Kindle format to keep people in it's own 'walled garden' and many other companies using some form of DRM to lock people in a prevent them using their purchase on multiple devices. Amazon's system of being in a position to remove things you've purchased from your library in particularly egregious. 

Nigel

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