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Thanos007
post Aug 15 2012, 02:55 PM
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Iíve always been gun shy about buying PDFs. So to make an informed decision about whether to start picking up PDFs as opposed to actual books I come to you.

1) Can I have multiple copies? Like one for my PC and one for my lap top?
2) If I can have only one without paying for extra copies and my hard drive crashes can I get another copy without paying for it? How would that work?
3) All I see are PDFs. If I have an e-book reader do they have e-book versions? If not what is (in your opinion) the best (cheap/free) conversion tool?
4) Are the PDFs printer friendly?
5) What are the proís and conís of getting PDFs?
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Raiden
post Aug 15 2012, 03:07 PM
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Raiden
post Aug 15 2012, 03:08 PM
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PS, you didnt hear this from me, *fades into the shadows*
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Bigity
post Aug 15 2012, 03:34 PM
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I don't think that kind of post is kosher around here.
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Bigity
post Aug 15 2012, 03:38 PM
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QUOTE (Thanos007 @ Aug 15 2012, 08:55 AM) *
Iíve always been gun shy about buying PDFs. So to make an informed decision about whether to start picking up PDFs as opposed to actual books I come to you.

1) Can I have multiple copies? Like one for my PC and one for my lap top?
2) If I can have only one without paying for extra copies and my hard drive crashes can I get another copy without paying for it? How would that work?
3) All I see are PDFs. If I have an e-book reader do they have e-book versions? If not what is (in your opinion) the best (cheap/free) conversion tool?
4) Are the PDFs printer friendly?
5) What are the proís and conís of getting PDFs?


1) Yes, as long as YOU have the copies. You aren't supposed to pass them around like a hardcopy book. Not sure how companies really can enforce you giving a copy to your gamers at your 'table'.

2) You get a set number of downloads from the site. I think DriveThruRPG lets you download a title like 5 times? So don't lose all your copies more than 4 times (IMG:style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif)

3) As far as I know, no e-reader formats exist. I'm not aware of any actually working converter, but I have not really looked outside of a few Googles when I first got my Kindle. With my iPad2, I just use GoodReader or iAnnotate and stick with the PDF formats.

4) Depends on the publisher who created them.

5) Handy, portable, hard to get stolen or lost.
They aren't hardcopy, harder to pass around the game table on game nights. Don't have that used game book smell
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Speed Wraith
post Aug 15 2012, 03:47 PM
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Mostly, what Bigity said.

You could pirate the books, but I prefer to be at least mostly legit with these things. The gaming community isn't some all-powerful juggernaut like the RIAA, so you don't really feel very Robin Hood-y when you do it to them.

Often .pdfs are marked with a watermark of the buyer's name/account ID, but they don't put much more copy protection than that. I keep copies of my ebooks on my laptop, a hard drive I use to back up all my critical files, and even a RW DVD. Which isn't much different from what I have going on with my music files actually.

I don't know much about e-readers since I find the format literally impossible to use (I'm really not a Luddite, but I can't read those things without a lot of struggle). I do know they work with iPads, as that's what my best friend uses.

The biggest pro for these books, other than the obvious ease of transporting just your laptop or iPad around with all your books, is that updates are free.

The biggest con, and this is a personal hang-up, is that they're more difficult to flip through.
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_Pax._
post Aug 15 2012, 03:50 PM
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QUOTE (Thanos007 @ Aug 15 2012, 09:55 AM) *
I’ve always been gun shy about buying PDFs. So to make an informed decision about whether to start picking up PDFs as opposed to actual books I come to you.

1) Can I have multiple copies? Like one for my PC and one for my lap top?
2) If I can have only one without paying for extra copies and my hard drive crashes can I get another copy without paying for it? How would that work?
3) All I see are PDFs. If I have an e-book reader do they have e-book versions? If not what is (in your opinion) the best (cheap/free) conversion tool?
4) Are the PDFs printer friendly?
5) What are the pro’s and con’s of getting PDFs?


(1) I bought each PDF once. I have one copy on my desktop, one copy burned to DVD (as a backup), one copy on my NookColor tablet, and one copy on my Laptop (that I use for GMing). Note, I only downloaded each PDF once ... then simply shuttled them around via USB memory stick.

(2) you can have more than one copy, but even then - if you buy directly from Catalyst, via the BattleShop ... they've been very nice about letting me re-download files when asked (my HDD crashed, and I couldn't find my backup disk).

(3) No, they don't have specific eBook versions. If your eReader can handle color PDFs, and does scrolling/zooming well, then it can do the game PDFs in useable fashion. However, I will say that it's not as convenient or as comfortable using my NookColor's 7.5" screen. To read the text, I have to zoom way in, and only wind up seeing ~25% of each page at once.

(4) As far as I can tell, yes. I had three of them print-and-bound by Kinko's a few years back, and all the pages came out fine .... in B&W, 'cause I didn't want to pay for full-color printing throughout.

(5)
--> PRO: I don't know about buying them from DriveThru, but all the ones I've bought through Battleshop? Whenever they update the book, I get a re-download link for it. Which means I don't have to worry so much about discrepancies between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd printing creeping in: I always have the latest version.
--> PRO: Control+F SEARCHABLE game books? How in the heck did I survive before that??
--> PRO: Instead of a ninety-pound milk-crate full of Shadowrun books, if I want to go to a convention to play some Missions goodness, I can instead bring my seven-pounds (including mouse, power cord, etc) laptop. Or, my maybe-twelve-ounce NookColor. Since I'm forty-one now, and not fourteen? This one's a BIG plus!! (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif) Heck, now I can carry both, and use the Nook to "lend" books at the table - and still be carrying over eighty pounds less! (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)
--> CON: I still miss the olfactory and tactile pleasures of cracking open brand-new Dead Tree Edition copies.
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Thanos007
post Aug 15 2012, 04:02 PM
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I find the lack of flippability an issue as well. Maybe using search is the answer?

you said updates are free? What kind of updates are we talking about?
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Kagetenshi
post Aug 15 2012, 04:03 PM
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To expand on what Bigity said:

QUOTE (Thanos007 @ Aug 15 2012, 10:55 AM) *
1) Can I have multiple copies? Like one for my PC and one for my lap top?

You can (from a technical standpoint) have as many copies as you want on as many devices as you want; there's no DRM on them. They are watermarked (from DriveThru at least, IIRC other sources exist that don't watermark) and encrypted. The watermark is just a little bit of text with your account name and the order number on the bottom left of each page; to give you an idea of how unobtrusive this generally is, I was about to say that it's only on the first page until I went and checked. The encryption prevents editing the PDFs, but in addition to this not really being something you'd usually want to do it also relies on the client to respect the encryption, so if you really, really need to correct the misinformation about diesel engines in Rigger 3, you can.

QUOTE
2) If I can have only one without paying for extra copies and my hard drive crashes can I get another copy without paying for it? How would that work?

Redownload policies are entirely up to the vendor. IIRC DriveThru's policy is 5 downloads, reset whenever the PDF is updated, but I think there was a note somewhere about being able to contact them to obtain more downloads if you need to. Besides, you should be backing up your files anyway (presumably there's something of value on your computer that you didn't get from somewhere else).

QUOTE
3) All I see are PDFs. If I have an e-book reader do they have e-book versions? If not what is (in your opinion) the best (cheap/free) conversion tool?

I'm under the impression that PDF support is ubiquitous or near-ubiquitous in e-book readers. Check the features list, manual, or help for your reader to confirm.

QUOTE
4) Are the PDFs printer friendly?

It also depends on what you mean by "friendly". They're formatted and ornamented (as far as I can tell) precisely the same way as the print editions, so to print you'd need to be prepared to use a bunch of extra ink on fancy page headers; woe betide anyone who prints out a copy of the SR4 core book on a home printer, especially if they don't force grayscale.

QUOTE
5) What are the proís and conís of getting PDFs?

Cons: no physical book, not all books available as PDF.
Pros: no physical book, text-searchable, more available (can have them on stuff you're carrying anywayógone are the days when I used to pack up two to three big tote bags full of kilos and kilos of books).

~J
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Thanos007
post Aug 15 2012, 04:05 PM
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Old book smell is the best.
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Raiden
post Aug 15 2012, 04:09 PM
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QUOTE (Raiden @ Aug 15 2012, 11:07 AM) *
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Oh, I bought the corebook hardcover, If you pressed for money there is this way, its no worse then getting someone in a group to let you borrow there books honestly.
also i got lucky and got a free Runners companion from a friend:3
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Raiden
post Aug 15 2012, 04:12 PM
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also, another con that an old GM said about PDFs was. "I cant smack the rule bending power-gamers, or the rule lawyers with PDF files"
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_Pax._
post Aug 15 2012, 04:24 PM
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QUOTE (Thanos007 @ Aug 15 2012, 11:02 AM) *
you said updates are free? What kind of updates are we talking about?

One example ... Runners' Companion, alternate character creation: "Karma Gen". Originally, it was printed with an x3 price for improving attributes. That was an error, it should have been an x5 price.

My PDF copy of Runner's Companion says "x5", because Battleshop gave me a new download link. Now, as it so happens, I have a copy of the pre-update version as well. Here's a side-by-side comparison of the KarmaGen table, from page 41 of that book:

http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c313/GMP...Ccomparison.jpg

[ Spoiler ]


It's a small thing, but ... I don't have to remember myself, that X or Y little detail on page Z of such-and-such a book has changed. Nor do I have to constantly refer to Errata files (which, given Catalysts' pathological aversion to publishing Errata at all, is a doubly-good thing).
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_Pax._
post Aug 15 2012, 04:26 PM
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QUOTE (Raiden @ Aug 15 2012, 11:12 AM) *
also, another con that an old GM said about PDFs was. "I cant smack the rule bending power-gamers, or the rule lawyers with PDF files"

LOL. That's what my "cane" is for. ^_^
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KCKitsune
post Aug 15 2012, 04:26 PM
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QUOTE (Raiden @ Aug 15 2012, 11:12 AM) *
also, another con that an old GM said about PDFs was. "I cant smack the rule bending power-gamers, or the rule lawyers with PDF files"

Punishing Power gamers in 3 Easy Steps:
1) Get a Games Workshop metal space marine dreadnought,
2) Put said mini into a sock
3) Whack power gamer until he (or she) learns their lesson!

Pro: cheaper than a SR 4A edition book
Con: getting blood stains out of the sock... (IMG:style_emoticons/default/eek.gif)

Anyways, back to the topic at hand: PDFs are much nicer because you can search them, and they don't fall apart. You can also print up only what you need... like the character sheet.
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Bigity
post Aug 15 2012, 04:32 PM
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That is a very expensive way to punish power gamers.

I find a short length of garden hose is a inexpensive, yet durable tool. You can leave the cap on for additional punishment if necessary.
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Raiden
post Aug 15 2012, 04:36 PM
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QUOTE (KCKitsune @ Aug 15 2012, 12:26 PM) *
Punishing Power gamers in 3 Easy Steps:
1) Get a Games Workshop metal space marine dreadnought,
2) Put said mini into a sock
3) Whack power gamer until he (or she) learns their lesson!

Pro: cheaper than a SR 4A edition book
Con: getting blood stains out of the sock... (IMG:style_emoticons/default/eek.gif)

Anyways, back to the topic at hand: PDFs are much nicer because you can search them, and they don't fall apart. You can also print up only what you need... like the character sheet.


5 stars for you, I literally laughed out loud when i read the first step lol
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Speed Wraith
post Aug 15 2012, 05:25 PM
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QUOTE (Thanos007 @ Aug 15 2012, 12:02 PM) *
I find the lack of flippability an issue as well. Maybe using search is the answer?

you said updates are free? What kind of updates are we talking about?


Search helps, but when you know a hard copy book well, it is often easier and faster to simply pick up the book and flip to the section you need. Plus you don't end up with partial-word results or being sent to the index or worse, fiction, three times in a row.

Adventures can be a notorious pain in the behind that way also. Yes, Adobe will let you split the screen and have two sections up at once, but that doesn't really help if the stats start on one page and conclude on another, or if the stats you're looking for are scattered among multiple pages. The easy answer for adventures/modules is to copy from the .pdf to a Word/Google Docs/Open Office document.
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Kagetenshi
post Aug 15 2012, 05:47 PM
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QUOTE (Speed Wraith @ Aug 15 2012, 01:25 PM) *
Search helps, but when you know a hard copy book well, it is often easier and faster to simply pick up the book and flip to the section you need.

Certainly. It should be noted, though, that the real strength of searchability comes when you've built up a PDF library and can search across multiple books, which both relieves you of the burden of needing to remember or guess which book something is in and helps ensure that you aren't missing some special case or rule hidden away somewhere.

I spent years building an encyclopedic knowledge of the SR3 rules, and that still comes in very handy, but searchable PDFs and a few months of work (since you still need to know what the right search terms will be) can probably get you well over halfway there.

~J
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Sengir
post Aug 15 2012, 07:47 PM
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QUOTE (Kagetenshi @ Aug 15 2012, 05:03 PM) *
The encryption prevents editing the PDFs, but in addition to this not really being something you'd usually want to do it also relies on the client to respect the encryption, so if you really, really need to correct the misinformation about diesel engines in Rigger 3, you can.

Or change the bookmarks, merge the tables from various books into one document, create a text-only version that does not kill your phone battery as fast...

qpdf thankfully takes care of this minor inconvenience (IMG:style_emoticons/default/wink.gif)


My personal routine is to buy English PDFs, and the major books again in German as hardcopy. Then again, I've also got a printout of the UEFI spec (>2000 pages) and similarly-sized documents at work.
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Sid Nitzerglobin
post Aug 15 2012, 08:05 PM
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My biggest issue w/ the .pdfs is how expensive it is to print the large color ones (unless you've got no charge access to a color laserjet).

If you're bringing a laptop to the game table anyway it might not be as big of an issue. Even then it is nice to have a physical copy sometimes, IMO, but I guess I'm old school like that.
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darthmord
post Aug 17 2012, 02:01 AM
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My problem with the PDFs is more with the readers. I've yet to find fast reader software that doesn't make going through the PDF a slog.
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KnightAries
post Aug 17 2012, 03:25 AM
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QUOTE (darthmord @ Aug 16 2012, 06:01 PM) *
My problem with the PDFs is more with the readers. I've yet to find fast reader software that doesn't make going through the PDF a slog.


Though I'll get disagreement on this I've actually found the best pdf reader on android is adobe. I use it on my phone with very few problems.
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_Pax._
post Aug 17 2012, 03:27 AM
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The Nook is Android based ... but I found Adobe to be sub-par for Catalyst's especially-poorly-optimised PDFs. I found a free alternative, "ezPDF" I think it's called, which does a much better job.
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KnightAries
post Aug 17 2012, 03:30 AM
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QUOTE (_Pax._ @ Aug 16 2012, 07:27 PM) *
The Nook is Android based ... but I found Adobe to be sub-par for Catalyst's especially-poorly-optimised PDFs. I found a free alternative, "ezPDF" I think it's called, which does a much better job.


I'm always willing to test/try new things...
I'll give my humble opinion in a bit.

EDIT: Aahhh... Explains why it might be better. Payed for app. I just use the free one for my PDF Reader.
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