Book Sizes and PDFs

Started by Cynthia Celeste Miller, February 22, 2009, 06:48:05 AM

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Cynthia Celeste Miller

I'm currently considering going with a digest-sized book for my upcoming RPG, Slasher Flick. However, I'm also planning to release it in PDF format. And therein lies the problem. Most PDF customers can't just print out digest-sized pages on their home printers, at least not without having to trim them up. And even then, it's not possible to easily place them in page protectors, binders, etc.

I'm at a loss for how to handle it. I could completely reformat the book to be letter-sized for PDF purposes, all the while making the print version available as a digest-sized product. Still, this solution has complications all its own. For example, in FAQs and such, I couldn't list one page number for answers and have it apply to both versions, as the pages will be different.

Any help in this problem would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
Cynthia Celeste Miller
President, Spectrum Games

Eero Tuovinen

Well, this is just me, but I don't understand the point of selling a pdf book for the purpose of printing it out on the home printer. Reason would have it that the customer would get a better and cheaper print version by buying it from you. Thus I wouldn't be too worried about the printability of the PDF version as long as individual pages are simple enough to print for reference.

If printing the pages is a must, the customer could always resize the pages so they'd be closer to printer sheet size. Perhaps two pages per sheet or something like that. You could even do this for them: instead of re-doing the layout, just resize it,
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There is an add-on from Adobe for booklet making if you wish to purchase it. If not, I know when I worked at Kinkos we had the software on our computers (employee only) and could make booklets from them. For a minor fee they can make a booklet pdf and put it on a usb drive or burn a cd for you.

One comment from my experience, I did a half page vertical book that was set up to be stapled in the middle. I didn't get any response to it so I'll let you draw your conclusions from there. You may wish to set up for both letter size and A4 for customers. Then only use the booklet for conventions or hardcopy sales.

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David Artman

I would concentrate on making a PDF computer-usable, not home-printable: landscape orientation, Bookmarks and Page preview tabs available, all cross-references are hyperlinks, maybe even active (type-in) forms for all character sheet and other game forms.

As others have said above, any printer printing PDF can just "Center and Resize" pages to fill the chosen output page size. And many printer drivers have Booklet options (HP comes to mind) that will make a booklet out of the pages... though it is often really fiddly to get right (e.g. the pages will be small, because the driver tries to impose them as if they were Letter, not Digest).

Or you could offer two PDFs: screen-use and home-print, and do the page imposition in the home-print version for them (manually, or as a Print to File using the Booklet setting of some PPD that supports it, which you then PDF with Distiller or some other PS -> PDF tool).

In the end, though, your print version price point should beat someone's average 8¢-per-page home-print price (plus your PDF charge). Maybe offer a bundle of Print+PDF, and shave your margin still further, to mollify the cheapskates who want to get only PDF and then, say, print out for free on their employer's dime.
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Gregor Hutton

Cynthia, my experience has been that people do want to print PDFs out (I have seen my games and other digest sized PDFs printed out at conventions) and not just view them on screen.

I find that 6x9 or 5.5x8.5 actually prints pretty well using the two-up format (two pages per page) and I haven't had any complaints from people about my 5.5x8.5 (or even 8.5x5.5 landscape PDFs).

Joe Prince made PDFs that were already in booklet and two-up formats for people to buy.

One useful thing is that Contested Ground make extra PDF versions with art and background images removed to save you on ink usage when printing the book out and that has been well received from speaking to Paul and Malcolm.

My other experience is that making a new snazzy layout specifically for a PDF, and hyperlinking it with all that jazz, got me very little return for a lot of effort. As long as my book was readable and easily printed out no one seemed to care about the hyperlinking and bookmarking that I did. So for my most recent book I haven't done any of that, and I have heard not a word of complaint on it (from over 500 PDF sales).

Cynthia Celeste Miller

Thatnks for the advice, guys. I really appreciate it. I'm actually relieved to hear that the smaller sized books print okay using two-up formatting.
Cynthia Celeste Miller
President, Spectrum Games