Friday, August 5, 2011

PDFs on Tablets - How Do They Look To You?

I do most of my PDF reading on tablets these days - both my gen1 iPad and my 7" Samsung Galaxy Tab. I've yet to experience an issue with either. The PDFs look vibrant and the ability to zoom in on parts of the page is priceless.

I bring this up because I've noticed that some e-publishers of roleplaying material are also putting their stuff out in epub format. One reason I've seen them use is that PDFs don't present well on tablets. In my experience, PDFs present extremely well on tablets, and piss poor at best on most dedicated e-readers. E-readers generally don't display PDFs in their native format but use "reflow", which is fine for fiction but plays havoc with RPGs that have charts and stat blocks.

Maybe they don't know the right terminology to differentiate between a tablet (which is basically a small PC) and an e-book reader (a device dedicated to presenting the different digital publishing formats). I don't know.

I do know I'd rather have a PDF displayed on my iPad for RPG reading then the same presented in epub or .azw or whatnot.

Eh, this was annoying me throughout the nite. I feel better now ;)


  1. I totally agree with you. I love my iPad2 and GoodReader for using all my gaming pdfs. It's really the reason I bought it. I have both the old TSR ones (that WotC eventually pulled), and newer ones. Can you beat bookmarking, highlighting, and searchability??

  2. PDF's are hard to read on tablets. Sure, you can zoom in and see perfectly well. I prefer to see the words at a reasonable size without zooming in though.

    I find it challenging once zoomed in to reading size to keep track of where I am at, and I am always touching the damn screen to find what I want. PDF's are awesome on my monitor because I can see, read, and take in the whole page without all the manipulation required by a tablet.

    Enter White Haired Man and our carefully considered ePub format. We approached the ePub as a new way of information delivery, as opposed to trying to forcing our PDF and Fantasy Grounds Modules to conform. In essence we tried to find ways to make the ePub usable at the game table. My play tests show that with an ePub adventure loaded on the iPad I don't need any supporting material. Rules-check, dice-check, adventure-check, initiative tool-check, drawing app to show what players see-check. With applications and our adventure you can run an entire game session with nothing but the iPad in hand.

    Don't take my word for it. Download The Hideout ePub for free (http://www.whitehairedman.com/free-the-hideout-epub).

    Tell us what you think about it. What worked well, what could use improvement, etc. Is there a future for ePub adventures?

  3. Tenkar, which do you like better for displaying the PDFs the iPad for the Galaxy Tab?

  4. I have an iPad1 and I do nearly ALL my RPG reading on it. I typically use GoodReader for all PDFs and I mainly use Kindle or Stanza for an eReader sort of thing.
    Which do I prefer?
    By far the GoodReader PDF for my gaming books. It is full color, text is laid out as the author intended, images are rendered in their full ability, tables are done right, and all in all, it is the closest thing you can get when you cannot have a physical book. eReaders are cool, but most of the things I just mentioned get all screwy in a ePub format that I have seen.
    I would by a far margin rather have a PDF than an ePub format RPG book.


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