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

schneeland

Explorer
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.

Just curious: what app are you using for this purpose?
 

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MarkB

Legend
I'm not keen on PDF books - I find that they tend to often be poorly laid out for screen reading, and even with decent index-links they're a pain to scroll through.

However, I've found books on D&D Beyond a lot friendlier. It's easier to find things, the pages are formatted to fit a screen, and you can easily split off to a new tab if you want to cross-reference. I'm at the point where I'm foregoing printed versions of books that are available on D&D Beyond.
 

dbm

Explorer
Just curious: what app are you using for this purpose?
GoodReader. I’ve used it since the very first iPad and found it excellent. Other people swear by PDFExpert, which is also good but has different strengths.

Here’s a link:
 

John Dallman

Explorer
A lot of the material I use is PDF-only, so I had to learn how to use it best. That ended up, for me, as a low-end Windows laptop, with Libre Office (because it's free), Sumatra PDF (free, much faster and less fussy than Adobe Reader), and Agent Ransack (not free, but cheap, and a very powerful PDF search tool). Plus a printer: I find fussing with electronics in-session is slow and error-prone, because of the time pressure.

With that, my GMing prep usually ends up as one or two sides of paper for a session. I have the core books in hardcopy for in-session reference when needed, but that isn't common: I often go through a session without needing them.

When I'm a player, I have a character sheet, maybe a cribsheet or two that I've written, and a page or eight of notes about what's going on in the campaign that we need to deal with.
 





jaycrockett

Explorer
Yes I have a 10 inch Kindle fire that I got for 100 bucks on prime day, and it's great for reading pdfs and comic books.
I also agree with the D&D beyond compliments. I find I can have a character sheet in one browser tab and the players handbook in another, and it runs great.
 

I am not really a player but a collector, and I miss opening the book and smell the paper, but for publishers selling PDFs is better. It isn't only TTRPG industry, but also music, media or videogames. Selling a file by internet is cheaper and faster than producing a physical product.

Today the book is like selling the videogame collector edition with art pictures and miniatures.
 

SpellJammer16

Apprentice of the Seventh Circle of Mystery
I agree in not having a huge fondness for reading pdf's, or e-books either (just back from checking a book out from the library in fact). Nevertheless, here is my pub gaming gear:

View attachment 114350

A porfolio with a fire, etc.; this means no greasy fingerprints on my game books from '81, very compact, plus it reduces people's urge to flip through the book looking for a rule, so we just wing it. Nothing in that picture is a heartbreaking irreplaceable loss either, if I lose it, or if it gets stolen. Those are the benefits; however, I still prefer having a printed book to read and grok the rules, to the point I'll pay $70 for Swedish game book, such as I did with M-Space.

Reminded me of when alot of my books got stolen in the mid 80s. We were playing at the Library.
I got up to go to the bathroom and when I came back all my hardcovers gone.. (I was the DM)
The group hid them in the shelves with regular books so I couldn't find them.
I guess they were finally sick of Count Strahd and his Castle turning up everywhere.
Luckily I put my initials in them and the low int thieves brought them into school so I was able to get them back.
I could of used a PDF then... and a portable TV for my Commodore 64.
 

uzirath

Adventurer
I have mixed feelings about PDFs. Like everybody else, I love the ability to search and to easily copy out bits of text or graphics. Plus portability.

But I think game books are often particularly hard to read on a screen because I like to keep flipping around. It's easy, with a book, to remember page numbers or keep a finger on a page, or just quickly riffle to the right page. PDFs are such a pain in this regard. For heavily used ones, I often end up extracting pages into separate files so I can easily open the equipment table in one tab, the sample character on another tab, etc. I also find that on a screen I am much more likely to skim over the fluff and just focus on the crunch. With physical game books, I'm happy to immerse myself.

I read regular books on e-readers all the time, but I don't yet have a large-screen e-reader.

Ultimately, I end up buying both PDF and physical copies of my core gaming books. I'll buy PDFs of books I use less often so that I don't have to keep adding bookcases.
 

Warpiglet

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...

As it turns out every one (save one) of your pet peeves are shared by me. I don't hate all paladins...but gnomes, rapiers, dex builds and bards are fairly repugnant to me. And as to pdf format...

I will never get used to them when reading rpg material. They are a useful adjunct, but that's it.

A book is much less effort to use (for me). I learn where things are and can almost turn the right page due to muscle memory.

With that said I can't always carry a book with me and have read books on my phablet (my big ass iPhone). But at the table or on the couch it's book all the way.

It's easier on my eyes, I can relax more, can vary the angle....he'll I don't know why I prefer it but do.

I am not looking for reasons to change my opinion either
 



Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
For goofing around on forums, looking at a PDF to snag a rule is just fine. If I'm going to use a PDF routinely during a campaign, I just print it out, 3 hole punch it, and use those 2 prong thingies to make it into a kinda sorta book. It can use up a bunch of ink, but it sure avoids most of the irritation that comes from trying to use a PDF on a tablet.
 

So, let us be clear - we are talking about pieces of hardware that generally run at $500 and up.
Typically around USD $1000 - $1200 for the 12-13" diagonal measure screens

7" (which is unsuitable for many PDFs of letter sized works.) is available for under $300.

Let's take that $1200 figure...

Let's also note the usual rate for PDF-only is 50% that of dead tree, and a typical Book is around $60 these days. So, that's US $30 per book; that means roughly 35 books to break even.

Note that some eInk devices from off brands made in china are under $400 for 12" devices... but they are likely to inform the chinese government of everything you read.... ;)

If you prefer color emissive light displays, the inexpensive ones are half that price, with the major name brands (Microsoft, Samsung, Acer) being about
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.
That depends on just how many books one is going to read on them.

Now, the numbers for large devices on non-gaming books...
A typical hardcover novel is $25 to $30. A typical ebook is $5 for the same title, and $1 or $2 on markdown... If you read one hardcover a month, the $20 per month you'd save requires 3 years regular reading to break even. It really is NOT that unaffordable.

Combine a few RPG books, and some novels, and potentially some other readables, and for reading alone, a name brand large screen (sony, books) is worth it as is. A cheap chinese one pays off in a year. Major names in 2-4... and most will last that long with even a little care.

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.

Yep - if you go with a color display. E-ink, one cannot do that.

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

But I don't have much use for them beyond that. Currently anyway.
That's another good use.
 


Li Shenron

Legend
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...

I always used to say that I hate PDFs, but in time I am starting to understand better that I hate PDFs for material that requires to be studied or used as a reference.

I do various studies both for my own interests and some teaching activities, and I need printed books for that. I just can't study on a screen, and for me that's because to study implies not just to read, but to constantly go back and forth between pages, and to physically interact with such pages (e.g. underline key sentences, draw sketches or write notes on the border, add arrows etc.). It just doesn't work nearly as well on a screen, and it doesn't matter if it's a PC screen or a touch screen.

Similarly, RPG rulebooks are not simply read. You need to go back and forth to "connect the dots" of the rules, even more importantly when you're reading an adventure. I never buy RPG books in PDF format.

OTOH I don't have much problem reading a straightforward book of fiction on a PDF, and that's because you normally just read it forward, start to finish, with no need to "interact" with it much. A tablet is the best device because it's large enough to be clearly readable (unlike a mobile phone for instance, where you would need to zoom), but portable so that you can hold it and read it in bed or on a bus (even a laptop is not comfortable enough, and also has the unfortunate horizontal screen that doesn't work well for books).

I suppose that something which might help you, is to get a very good PDF reader app (rather than an expensive iPAD, which I don't think it really makes a difference compared to a cheap tablet) which allows you to:

  • browse pages naturally with a flick of the finger
  • move quickly around the document (no loading times even if you jump a hundred pages -> this is the only thing which might actually depend on the tablet's quality i.e. RAM)
  • immediately go back to where you were previously with a click
  • add and save annotations that you can handwrite with a touch pen
  • support hyperlinks

I still wouldn't use it for studying material, but perhaps it would make it possible to enjoy RPG PDFs better.
 

dbm

Explorer
I suppose that something which might help you, is to get a very good PDF reader app (rather than an expensive iPAD, which I don't think it really makes a difference compared to a cheap tablet)
Have you tried using a top end device for an extended period of time (as opposed to a few minutes in the Apple Store)?
 

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