So, I hate pdfs. Any advice on hating them less?

schneeland

Explorer
To the contrary, I found that with the right device, I now prefer reading RPG-related books digitally. Admittedly part of that is also because I use the notes app to create a list of things I want to mention in reviews about these books later, but there's also definitely some enjoyment. I works a lot better with books of somewhat smaller formats (B5 works best, A5 is also okay) - A4/letter-size books, particularly those with fine print, are rather painful to read.
You may (rightfully) argue that an iPad Pro (10.5") is the most overprized way to read digital books (and comics), but it really was a game changer for my RPG reading habits. So if money is not your primary concern, I can really recommend this.

That being said:
  • I still prefer using physical books at the table for actual game sessions
  • Sometimes I still buy books because they are simply beautiful
 
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Count_Zero

Explorer
The problem I've had with PDFs is finding the right reader for a tablet - one that lets me browse my PDF library while also allowing me to work with a PDFs table of contents so I can more easily skim through information (like going from the map of a dungeon to the write-up of a particular room). I've used readers that will handle one or the other, but not both.
 

Fanaelialae

Adventurer
I also prefer having a physical book to a PDF. I simply don't find the search function to be typically as useful for cross referencing as having a few fingers stuck between the pages of a book.

I'll usually get both print and PDF if it's available. Otherwise I'll simply peruse the PDF, but I rarely read them cover to cover. If I do find it worth reading, the best solution I've found is to print it out, hole punch it, and stick it in a good binder. It isn't as good as an actual book, but it is passable, with the added advantage of being able to reorganize and pull out pages if need be.

With regard to the cost of printing, get yourself a laser printer. They're not terribly expensive nowadays, and you can get thousands of pages from a $50 or so cartridge. The downside being, no color, but you could always print out any pictures you like on a color printer, if you're of a mind to.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
I love PDFs for reference, but I dislike them a lot for reading. When I read an ebook, I control the font, the background/forground colors, the size, the spacing - everything to make it comfortable. On a PDF the layout person did all that, likely for letter sized (or A4) paper - which is just wrong. I can't read multi-column comfortably on my tablet, and I don't want to sit reading on my lap/desktop monitor.

For reference they are great. Pelgrane Press gives you the 13th Age ones when you by hardcover, and being able to cut-n-paste stat blocks when prepping is wonderful. Lots good there.

But not for ingesting in the first place. I wish they were in an ebook format so I could have control over them.
 

Xenonnonex

Adventurer
This latest thread was prompted by this post-


That humblebundle is a GREAT DEAL! Really. I mean, that's some good OSR product. I'd like me some of that!

But here's the problem. I hate .pdfs. This isn't the type of pure and lovely hate I have for things that truly deserve it (Paladins, Rapiers, Bards, Gnomes, Dex-builds, People that refuse to acknowledge the John Wick trilogy as the greatest cinematic masterpiece of all time). Instead, it's more of a, "Why isn't this a book?"

So, quick note. I use electronic documents all the time. Seriously, it's almost like it's my job, or something. So it's not an aversion to reading on a screen.

And I get that it can be useful- searching for a particular piece of text is oh-so-easy with an electronic document.

And I'm constantly on a phone, or tablet, or computer reading websites or reading things, so it's not an instinctive Luddite reaction.

Instead, it's something particular to books, and by extension, I think, to RPG books. I just don't seem to enjoy long periods of reading a single thing on a screen. It's not the same as curling up with a book.

Nor is it the same when you have to bring a tablet (or what have you) to the gaming table.

But man, that's a great bundle of stuff!

So I'm throwing this out there for discussion and tips- has anyone else overcome this antipathy of pdfs? Any particular tips or tricks that you used? A particular tablet? Playing Lionel Ritchie in the background?*

Inquiring minds want to know.


*This may, in fact, be the root of the aversion. Hmmm...
Have you also tried hating books?
 
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aramis erak

Explorer
My best tip for enjoying reading PDFs is to get a big tablet. A full size ipad is good, but an e-reader brand works best like a kobo or kindle. Also, amp up your contrast if you can - I find that helps especially when reading lots of black text on white screens.

Good luck!
Seconded. If possible, one of the 12" tablets.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Seconded. If possible, one of the 12" tablets.
So, let us be clear - we are talking about pieces of hardware that generally run at $500 and up.

Unless you also have a lot of other stuff you are planning to do with that hardware, I wouldn't call this an economically sound solution to the problem.
 

darjr

I crit!
My back man! My poor back. It’s been worth it for that alone. But I do play games on it and watch YouTube. In fact I’ve barely tuned on the tv since I got it.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
I like the big tablets for running interactive character sheets too.

But I don't have much use for them beyond that. Currently anyway.
 
My suggestion would be to try going full immersion. Get whatever pfds you'd need for the games that you actually play, and temporarily forgo using real books altogether, see if you can't overcome your dislike through just the sheer momentum of, "this is what I've got to work with."
 

macd21

Explorer
I hate using pdfs for actually getting to know a new system or setting, but find them a great reference tool at the table. I like games that give you a free pdf with purchase of a physical copy (best of both worlds), but I would never buy a pdf without an actual book - that’s a game that’ll never be played.
 

dbm

Explorer
Seconded. If possible, one of the 12" tablets.
So, let us be clear - we are talking about pieces of hardware that generally run at $500 and up.

Unless you also have a lot of other stuff you are planning to do with that hardware, I wouldn't call this an economically sound solution to the problem.
Yes, but it is a fantastic solution...

Here is my 12.9 iPad Pro showing the PDF of GURPS Characters, next to the book itself:
177DD486-A416-4A02-BB22-2AB5E1326660.jpeg


It is a fantastic tool for the job and allows me to carry literally thousands of books with me all the time.

A good device, well set up, makes the whole thing much more pleasant. Notice that I have tried to match the brightness of the screen to mimic the page under natural light; that helps minimise eye strain.

You also need to learn new strategies for navigating the books. Get a good app which allows you to add your own bookmarks. The ability to pull out to a thumbnail view of multiple pages is also great. And, of course, the search function can make niche rules easier to look up.

PDF is my preference over physical books these days.
 

Zhaleskra

Explorer
Physical books don't crash. You can spill a drink on your physical book, and it usually still works, unless it's super soaked or something. Page flipping is faster than page number finding.

PDFs cannot be damaged or stained with drink, dropped in various places, or have their spines break.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
You don't pay $50 for a pdf and have it fall apart, as I have heard about with some new books, however, my ancient AD&D books have had their covers worn away and replaced with tape, but the pages have all stayed in place. PDF's can zoom which is easy on the old eyes, I wear bifocals too. Nevertheless I do still prefer books.
 

darjr

I crit!
Yea, I can speed flip through a PDF on my iPad. And the “page acceleration” is the same ratio for pages so I can quickly judge about how “far apart” each section is. Not the same as a book but very useful. I don’t think beyond can do that though.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Yes, but it is a fantastic solution...
In a technical sense. But the price point is excessive for this one use case.

It is a fantastic tool for the job and allows me to carry literally thousands of books with me all the time.
Which, of course is way more than you'd need in your entire life, so, who cares? We don't need it to carry thousands, We need it to carry maybe a couple dozen at any given time. Function in excess of need is not a rational selling point. It is like trying to sell me a Lamborghini when 90% of my driving is to go to the grocery store 3 miles from my house.

A big tablet is a fie piece of hardware, with many technical capabilities. But if all you're going to do is look at a few RPG pdfs, it is turning a cheap hobby into an expensive hobby.

If you need a device that you're going to use every day, for several things, then paying $500 to $1500 on a huge tablet may be a rational solution. Or, if you are simply wealthy, so that dropping $500+ on a thing you'll pick up only once in a while isn't an issue for you. But, I suspect most of us are pretty middle class folks, for whom that's not chump change.

Upthread, I mentioned that I do most of my fiction reading on an e-reader these days. Note that this e-reader was a gift, and runs under a hundred bucks, and I use it pretty much every day. That's great cost for use. A 12" tablet just for game pdfs? Unlikely to have the same payoff.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
My point is to show the art of the possible. Many people think PDFs are clunky and cumbersome. But that is because they have only used cheap or outdated hardware.
Yep. And my point is to note that expensive, up to date hardware... is expensive. It is great if you have cash to burn, and kind of not if you don't.
 

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