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Thread: PDFs vs. Dead Trees

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    PDFs vs. Dead Trees

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    [MODERATOR'S NOTE: Split off from the "Making my own RPG" thread.]


    Funny that the dead tree version would be less expensive than the pdf ! Usually it's the other way around.
    Last edited by fmitchell; 11-14-2008 at 04:42 PM.
    Au gibet noir, manchot aimable, dansent, dansent les paladins
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    Quote Originally Posted by boulet View Post
    Funny that the dead tree version would be less expensive than the pdf ! Usually it's the other way around.
    WotC sells PDFs of 3.x and 4e at the retail dead tree price. (Scans of older D&D are $5, but sometimes are barely legible.) White Wolf and Mongoose, among others, are usually 25% or 33% less than the dead tree versions, which you can sometimes beat on Amazon or in the used book market. Generally only indie publishers make their PDFs half-price or less.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

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    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    Generally only indie publishers make their PDFs half-price or less.
    Sometimes they offer the pdf when you buy the dead tree version.

    Sometimes (I think House of the Blooded) the pdf price is so low that it's a tactical choice like a bait for the dead tree : if you like the pdf text it's assumed you'll purchase the book in order to play the game for real. I like this way of thinking
    Au gibet noir, manchot aimable, dansent, dansent les paladins
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    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    WotC sells PDFs of 3.x and 4e at the retail dead tree price. (Scans of older D&D are $5, but sometimes are barely legible.) White Wolf and Mongoose, among others, are usually 25% or 33% less than the dead tree versions, which you can sometimes beat on Amazon or in the used book market. Generally only indie publishers make their PDFs half-price or less.
    You can get dead trees dirt cheap on the Amazon market place. It all depends on the condition you are willing to accept. Lizards doesn't want to sell PDF, that is why the steep price. (Not that their current books have any physical quality.)

    I don't like them myself. I get dead tree of any book I plan to use. I've never seen PDF as anything but a try before you buy option. Or a suitable format for printouts like dungeon tiles and foldups.

    For that kind of thing RPGnow is a great source.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tesral View Post
    I get dead tree of any book I plan to use. I've never seen PDF as anything but a try before you buy option. Or a suitable format for printouts like dungeon tiles and foldups.
    For me, it's more of a "what's it worth to me" decision. If it's a game I think I'll play, they I'll usually splurge for the book. If it's more for ideas or optional rules, which I probably won't use at the table, I'll get the PDF ... especially if it's short (which is where PDF shines as a format).

    Recently I bought RuneQuest Slaine for $9 plus shipping ... and found it was yet another example of crappy Mongoose binding. I'm not sure if I actually got deal. My "copy" of RuneQuest Aldryami is a PDF, but at least I don't have to fight with the virtual pages to keep them open.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

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    Quote Originally Posted by tesral View Post
    You can get dead trees dirt cheap on the Amazon market place. It all depends on the condition you are willing to accept. Lizards doesn't want to sell PDF, that is why the steep price. (Not that their current books have any physical quality.)

    I don't like them myself. I get dead tree of any book I plan to use. I've never seen PDF as anything but a try before you buy option. Or a suitable format for printouts like dungeon tiles and foldups...
    I am very thankful that so many publishers offer their books in PDF format along side hardcopies. I always have to have a hard copy of any "core" book or book that I would need to reference regularly at the game table because we don't use computers during our game, but for most other things, I spring for PDFs if they are cheaper. However, if the PDF costs the same as dead-tree edition, I will get the dead-tree instead.

    Here are the reasons why I have become so happy for PDF books:

    1) They are often cheaper than print.

    2) They are easy to store and transfer, making them easily accessible (I can keep a copy on my desktop, the laptop, my computer at work, on a flash drive for quick access, etc.)

    3) They keep my game table and book shelves uncluttered by books that I won't need to reference every game. This is especially true for "setting" books. The same way I don't need to drag around an entire encyclopedia when I travel, I don't need to drag around a "setting" book to every game session when it's likely I won't use it. If I feel that I will need a particular section or page of the book, I can easily print it out and stick it in my gaming binder...which brings me to my next point...

    4) Great multimedia resource. If I need a particular image, stat block, map or table out of the book to hand out to my players, Acrobat will allow me to copy, paste and rearrange from the book to create my own useful reference sheets, handouts and other materials so that I can give the players (and myself) exactly what I need to set a scene or deliver information without flipping through books or having to bring along a particular book just because it has one picture in it that I want the players to see. I'm a very visual person and I want to communicate a lot of information to my players visually. PDFs give me more freedom to customize those visual cues for maximum effect. For dead-tree books, it involves a pocket full of quarters, a Xerox machine, scotch tape and scissors. I know...that's how I used to do it back in the "old days". It worked, but PDFs are so much easier to manipulate.

    5) Secrecy. When you pull out the Psionics Handbook in the middle of a game, all the players go "uh oh...looks like we'll be facing something psionic soon". But if you pull out a sheet with the needed information on it, you don't tip your hand to the players and can keep your players guessing. It also increases the efficiency of running special scenarios or rules when you have just what you need in front of you and don't have to wade through pages of unnecessary material. By keeping unneeded books off your table, you also decrease wandering player attention spans as they mindlessly scoop up books and browse during the game...always a plus.

    For that reason, I tend to bring an A.S.S. with me when running a game (Archived Storyteller Support). That way, when my players give me odd looks and ask "Where the heck did that come from?", I just reply "Oh, I just pulled it out of my A.S.S.".
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    Thanks for the suggestions Webhead ! I like the idea of "print relevant informations out of a pdf instead of perusing 200 pages of book makes game fluid".
    Au gibet noir, manchot aimable, dansent, dansent les paladins
    Les maigres paladins du diable les squelettes de Saladins.

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    Give me paper over pdf any day!

    I don't use a laptop at my gaming table. I don't want my players using laptops at my gaming table. I find the laptop to be more of a distraction than a tool.

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    Quote Originally Posted by boulet View Post
    Thanks for the suggestions Webhead ! I like the idea of "print relevant informations out of a pdf instead of perusing 200 pages of book makes game fluid".
    It's something I have done forever. When I sit down to DM, the books almost never come out, pdf or dte (dead tree edition.) My key has the relevant facts printed in it.

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    when used wisely, laptops rule at the table. some prep work is needed to make it happen though. the advantages of being able to reference EVERYTHING i own and only having to lug 5lbs of computer and flash drives to some game, instead of the 50lbs+ of books, are very worthwhile. with my computer i can keep realtime logs of what's going on when it's not my turn, i can even map our routes, use the spell reference proggy i have to pull up any spell from the srd by keyword, the list goes on.

    i usually try to sit where the gm can see my screen, so that they can rest assured i'm "in-game". i'm not one of those who does other things like surf the web or play games... that's just rude. but since there are those who do, i make sure the gm not only knows, but can see for themselves. =D

    despite all that, i want to own the book. i'm a die-hard honmushi. [hoe'-nn'-moo'-shee] (bookworm) and you can tell too, when i'm building something complex, i'll have a ring of books around me open to various spots, with things for bookmarks stuck in various other pages, plus my computer sitting in one of the book spots, displaying extra related information. ^^

    for me, the computer is just another book. a little more versatile, but nonetheless, just a fancy book.
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    I like PDFs for Adventures, Monsterbooks, and a few other GM things (like maps) where I'm going to want to print some and put them in my notes. Otherwise dead tree wins.
    Playing: Pathfinder
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    Arch Lich Thoth-Amon is offline Cursed by the Gods
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    Truth be know, i'm old-school, and therefore will always be partial to the dead-tree editions. I'm also a techie and therefore will... and i realize this about myself, eventually be running all my docs from my laptop--no doubt before this decade is up. Good, bad, or indifferent? I dont know.
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    I play with a group of people whohaveto see things in a book for themselves forthemto believe it. It is easier to hand a dead tree across the table than my laptop,especially when its plugged in.
    "Drink like a f***ing dwarf"

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    Though I'll download a PDF if necessary I'm not a fan. It's the idea of spending that much time reading small print on a screen. My eyes are bad enough. So it's used dead trees for me.

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    I just used a PDF for what it was meant for Guild of Blades Retail group, a really neat game shop and Print on Demand service in Madison Ht., Mi. I took Bureau 13 for the d20 System up there and had them bind me up a copy. Mind you the book cannot be had in dead tree. Well I now have a dead tree.

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