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All D&D Books To Be Available As PDFs 179

Posted by Zonk
from the yay-for-synergistic-marketing dept.
sckeener writes "DriveThruRPG has just announced that it will be selling all of WotC's 3.5 Edition D&D products in e-book format - over 90 books. Wizards has elected not to make the three core rulebooks for Dungeons & Dragons available as eBooks at this time, but almost every other current Dungeons & Dragons title will be available from DriveThruRPG. New titles are scheduled to release one each weekday on DriveThruRPG: Some of the titles to be released first include: Book of Vile Darkness, Heroes of Horror, Arms and Equipment Guide, d20 Apocalypse, Champions of Ruin, Complete Arcane, Unearthed Arcana, Masters of the Wild and Book of Challenges. The books are still full price and are DRM protected." I'd be happier about this if they were even slightly discounted, but it's a good step. Heroes of Horror is worth every penny.
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All D&D Books To Be Available As PDFs

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  • by Kranfer (620510) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:31AM (#15547787) Homepage Journal
    I love this idea. While I like having my nice tidy bookshelves full of books, being able to have my laptop right there with a PDF to search for Rules or concepts would make people who are rule whores like me be able to find the specifics quickly without spending 20 minutes looking. I would like to see the PDFs discounted though, that would be a kicker to have to pay full price for the PDFs again just to have them on my laptop and not have to have 09571340987 books to look through. It would also be nice to see the Fantasy World books put out by Wizards to be in PDF too. Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, etc.
    • by Lacota (695046) on Friday June 16, 2006 @10:58AM (#15548806) Homepage
      You don't need these. Aside from the lovely consept art, most of the D&D content can be found in the SRD (System Reference Document). Which encompasess the core rulebooks, as well as some of the fringe 3.5 content (Psionics, Divine feats, etc) You can download it in chunks or the whole thing. They are in unencumbered RTF files. Totally free too! In Wizard's own words, here is the missing content from the SRD: Q: What's missing from the SRD compared to the core D&D rulebooks? A: Mostly the "flavor" elements. There are no named gods, none of the spells have significant NPC names, there's no mention of Greyhawk, etc. You'll also note that there are no rules for character creation, for advancing characters in level, calculating experience, or anything else related to the topics forbidden by the d20 System Trademark Guide. Here is the D&D SRD: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=d20/article/s rd35 [wizards.com] Here is the D20 Modern SRD (MSRD): http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=d20/article/m srd [wizards.com]
      • You don't need these. Aside from the lovely consept art, most of the D&D content can be found in the SRD (System Reference Document).
        The SRD does not cover any of the stuff in (e.g.) The Complete Adventurer. You're correct in that you don't need these to play, but the implication that there is little or no new material in these books is false.
  • Sweet! (Score:4, Funny)

    by sunrise.kid (931504) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:32AM (#15547793)
    No all I need are some friends to play with :-(
    • i'm in the same boat. i'm trying to indoctrinate my friends, but.. they all think its a bit too nerdy. even the ones that read and collect comics! i'm all "dude, we shop at the same store, just different sides! give it a try!" but no dice.

      *sigh*
  • yeah but... (Score:4, Funny)

    by i.r.id10t (595143) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:34AM (#15547804)
    ... They won't have Larry Elmore, Clyde Caldwells, or Gary Gygax's signatures on them like my old copies!
  • Boo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by giorgiofr (887762) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:38AM (#15547822)
    There they go and take a perfectly cool idea and corrupt it. These books should be sold with a huge discount because lots of costs have been cut by distributing them online as PDFs. And don't they realize that the very value of a PDF is intrinsically lower than that of a hardbound book? I might as well just buy the real thing and be done with it.
    Besides... PDF DRM? I've been given tons of supa-dupa-drm-protected PDFs in the past and usually they gave up in under 10 seconds. As usual, determined attackers will get what they want, while people who are obviously loyal to the brand and good customers get shafted by having their book usage restricted.
    (OK, I have an axe to grind... I never really forgave them for the switch to d20... or for buying RTS at all)
    • Re:Boo (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday June 16, 2006 @09:17AM (#15548063) Journal
      "And don't they realize that the very value of a PDF is intrinsically lower than that of a hardbound book? "

      Absolutely false. The cost of production might be lower, but the value is determined by the consumer, not directly by the characteristics of the item.

      To me, the PDF would actually be MORE valuable, since I commute a long distance and would be able to read them on my laptop without lugging around some heavy tomes. Easier to tag, cross-reference, etc. How about indexing the books and being able to instantly (well, near-instantly, these are pdfs after all) call up all references to a certain spell in all the books?

      In short, value is ascribed by the perceived utility of the object, not by production and distribution costs.
      • and lost sales due to online piracy is higher, so it probably balances out, anyway.

        I don't care for D&D myself, but within five minutes of me reading this headline to a cow-orker, he found them on a bittorrent tracking site and was downloading them.
      • by MattW (97290)
        I think what the poster really means to say is that MOST people value a PDF far less than a hardbound book, and therefore if they want to maximize their sales (the sum of X*Y where X is the units sold and Y is the price, knowing that X will decline as Y goes up), they should be pricing it competitively against the book. Also, it is a great deal less costly to convert a book to PDF than it is to convert a PDF to a book. That implies that the book has intrinsic value the PDF does not have. They both contain t
        • The core books are available for free on WOTC's website, though. So, they've already done that. They just aren't being consumer-friendly with the rest of their books.
        • Sure, some people prefer (and would therefore value higher, and pay more for) bound physical copies over pdfs. My point, though, was that there is no intrinsic value in an object. My personal valuation was just used as an example of that.

          "In a sense, you could say that the less valuable product, in this case, has more utility to you."

          Not at all. I could say that the pdf is less valuable to me. Or I could say that I value the hardbound copies less than most people. I think that you're confusing 'mar
          • by MattW (97290)

            Sure, some people prefer (and would therefore value higher, and pay more for) bound physical copies over pdfs

            Not "some" - "nearly all".

            My point, though, was that there is no intrinsic value in an object. My personal valuation was just used as an example of that.

            I'm not sure what made you think that wasn't completely obvious.

            "In a sense, you could say that the less valuable product, in this case, has more utility to you."

            Not at all. I could say that the pdf is less valuable to me. Or I could say that I valu

      • That's kind of odd, most of the people I know value the ability to grab a book and flip through it at the table, rather than grab their laptop and click through a pdf.

        Your argument is sound, but your conclusion is hasty and based on a small sample. The grandparent isn't "absolutely" false- it's entirely possible that they're correct. Of course, you could be correct too. Who knows?
        • No, the OP is absolutely false. Intrinsic value does not exist when discussing microeconomics, as he was by discussing pricing.

          Whether or not the market value, that is, the value assigned by the purchasers and sellers of the good, is higher for the books than for the pdfs, the pdf and the book have no intrinsic value.
      • In short, value is ascribed by the perceived utility of the object, not by production and distribution costs.
        You forgot to add, "... according to some schools of thought". Last I checked it was not an axiom yet.
    • Do you game strictly at home, or do you ever go to a game store that provides places for gamers to game?

      If you ever go into a store, how many copies of the DnD books does the store carry?

      Have you considered how much of the store's capital is tied up in those books as a percentage of their total inventory?

      How about the square footage to display the books?

      Now how do you expect the store's owner to feel if those books were available as eBooks for one fourth of the hardcopy retail price? (Game stores generally
      • That's an excellent point, one that's often referred to as "channel conflict" in the wholesale biz. You don't to piss off your current customer base (bookstores and gaming stores) unless you're sure the new form (PDF's) will bring in more profit than you lose with the existing base.
        • Yeah, well they don't have to worry about any conflict. You have to actually sell some of the PDFs to conflict with the existing base, and at $30 each, that isn't going to happen.

          Actually I wouldn't buy the hardcover books at those prices either. I might be tempted to buy the hardcovers at $15-$20. I'd never pay more than $5-$10 for the PDFs.
    • Re:Boo (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Neo_piper (798916)
      I'm on the fence personaly... I feel that maby the best way would be to include your super-duper-drm'ed PDF on a CD WITH the paper copy book.
      The entire idea of having to lug (not to mention BUY) a Laptop and charger around to just read a book just dosn't leave me with a good taste in my mouth. I love the idea of the PDF but making me buy it seperate and additional to the book seems a bit too much.
      I just can't get over the loss of the paper in a "book".
      Oh and anybody who says to "Just Print it out" will b
  • While I do love electronic distribution, trying to read something as long as the Spell Compendium in a PDF makes me shudder. I love being able to physically flip pages, pass the book around and read without a computer. There are certianally things that are nicer about an electronic distribution, but when they try to recreate a book on a computer, it loses a lot of what makes reading on a computer better. When I can do a spin-find, resize the window and have the text rewrap, change fonts for maximum readability, etc., then I'll give it some more thought. Until then, I prefer that my books are in fact books, and that my files stay delightfully DRM-free.
  • Good Idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Thyamine (531612) <(moc.snogardfo) (ta) (enimayht)> on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:39AM (#15547833) Homepage Journal
    This is certainly a good idea since a large number of computer geeks (yes, admit it.. you are, and so am I) play, and we're the most likely to adopt e-books or books in PDF form. However I personally prefer to have a book in physical form for all things, so unless there's some motiviation to purchase the book in this format (financial or otherwise) I'm not going to be doing this.

    The one benefit that is very clear though, is the ability to purchase books and have them immediately, and not be limited by what the bookstore happens to have in stock today.
  • This is definitely a good thing, as I've known GMs who need the convenience of e-books badly enough that they either scan the whole thing themselves or (ahem) find another source of a scanned copy It's definitely one of the reasons I mainly GM from digital source material. But, why no discount? That's pretty inexcusable.
    • This is definitely a good thing, as I've known GMs who need the convenience of e-books badly enough that they either scan the whole thing themselves or (ahem) find another source of a scanned copy

      I've tried GMing with PDF versions of the 2e manuals (legally bought), but I just found that it's not as convenient as having the book in front of you. I'm back to the good old paper manuals now.

    • Actually, it's even worse than no discount. You're actually paying a premium for the electronic version, vs. the price at Amazon. Compare $26 for the Complete Warrior PDF vs. $17 at Amazon [amazon.com].
  • PDF, eh? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pla (258480) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:49AM (#15547878) Journal
    Cool, so the DRM comes pre-cracked, and these should appear online within a month or so. ;-)


    On a more seriously note - I think RPG rulebooks work better in physical form. Granted, you can't drag an entire shelf of books around with you, but the players guide, DMs guide, and whatever setting-specific guide applies to your campaign, doesn't really take that much effort - The Dew and snacks for the evening probably weigh more than the books you need.

    And as for looking up a particular rule... C'mon, admit it folks - you have the rulebooks all but memorized, and just need to check whether half-ogre gets a 15% or 20% racial modifier to damage with a double-handed flail...


    Sigh... And after writing the above, guess what captcha I get? "losers". Not so subtle hint, oh Gods of Slashdot?
    • Most of these are already online as PDFs with no DRM. I have quite a few of them. Mind you I have quite a few books in hardcover, but I also download a PDF version since so many damned players kept borrowing books and never returned them. When I play, I want a book infront of me. If a player wants a book, I email them a PDF version.

      And there is no reason why the PDF versions should be full price.
      • And the irony is, of course, that the unauthorized versions are likely to be more functional than the full-price official production.
    • these should appear online within a month or so

      They've been online for some time now. alt.binaries.e-book.rpg. 'Nuff said.
    • Sigh... And after writing the above, guess what captcha I get? "losers". Not so subtle hint, oh Gods of Slashdot?

      Why did you get a captcha? I never get that when logged in.
      • Why did you get a captcha? I never get that when logged in.

        I usually don't log in until ready to post... So, for my first post of the current browsing session, I get a captcha.
    • And as for looking up a particular rule... C'mon, admit it folks - you have the rulebooks all but memorized, and just need to check whether half-ogre gets a 15% or 20% racial modifier to damage with a double-handed flail...

      If we didn't have rule books to look up things, what would be the point in arguing over the rules?
  • by g051051 (71145)
    There's no printing, storage, or shipping costs associated with the PDF versions. I'd cheerfully start purchasing every one of the books, but no way I'm paying that much for an electronic download. I think my price point for this would be no more than $10. And what about upgrades? Errata? What's the policy on that?
    • Any errate I've seen released is often released free of charge through the publisher's website in a small PDF with a list of corrections. I can't see how that would change.
  • by MagicDude (727944) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:57AM (#15547930)
    DM - As you enter the dimly lit room, you see a creature lurking in the corner, laughing in the corner. As you approach it, things to dark for a second and then the entire room is illuminated with a bright azure light. You have encountered - A BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH!!

    Fighter - I punch the the screen with my fist.

    Rogue - I sneak around back and attempt to unplug it.

    Wizard - I cast "Bigby's Typing Hands" to press Ctrl-Alt-Del

    Cleric - I cast "curse" on Bill Gates

    Sorceress - I summon Tech Support
  • by Chainsaw76 (261937) on Friday June 16, 2006 @09:03AM (#15547974) Homepage
    "Wizards has elected not to make the three core rulebooks for Dungeons & Dragons available as eBooks at this time,"

    Perhaps the title should be reworded to say, all but the best selling ones.

    -Jason
  • I guess the good side of this is that they'll be a lot more D&D books available for pirating, and they'll be easier to find.

    D&D was the one thing I never pirated materials for but ever since this 3.5 bullshit I've wanted to do nothing but download their books.

    Its such a shame the Gygax's got so screwed from what D&D has become.

  • by Alan Shutko (5101) on Friday June 16, 2006 @09:13AM (#15548044) Homepage
    I just checked, and for Frostburn (for instance), I could save $13 by buying it in hardcover form from amazon rather than buying the PDF. Sure, a PDF is more convenient in some cases, but this is ridiculous.

    Ideally, I'd want some kind of subscription service. Let me sign up with DTRPG, authorize my credit card, and whenever a new book came out $5-$10 came off my card and I got the PDF right away. If they're worried about people pirating the PDF, a lower price would help that to... for $5 bucks I'd just give books away if I wanted to share the rules.
  • Our version of Role playing has been available in PDF format since 2000. And it is not DRMed, and it is discounted in that format, since most of the cost of the paper version was always printing costs.

    https://secure.slickwebsitedevelopment.com/bunkerh illgames.com/description.php?II=1082&UID=200606160 823464.21.222.125 [slickwebsi...opment.com]FRP Made Easy: A Real Fantasy

    A complete game system in 1 volume at 10$, what more could you ask for?
  • Saving Costs... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MrLizard (95131) on Friday June 16, 2006 @09:32AM (#15548166)
    A lot of people here seem to be sans clue about the 'costs' of physical books. Books are sold to distributors at about 25% of retail cost (and there has to be a small profit on that), so, if you just cut out the physical costs of the books, you will save about 15-20 percent. Furthermore, if PDFs are significantly cheaper than physical books, this undercuts retailers, who get angry, and stop ordering the product. If brick-and-morter stores stop buying, this cuts out the main source for new players entering the hobby. Keeping the physical distribution chain alive is key to the long-term survival of the genre.
    • Re:Saving Costs... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by evought (709897)
      I've worked alongside the publishing industry before. The big win with an electronic format is lack of risk. They already have the content and they have a marginal printing/storage cost. They do not have the risk of printing 1000 copies that sit in a warehouse or get returned by the retail chain. That is why many publishers (e.g. Baen Books, O'Reilley with some titles, AWL with some titles, many small publishers, etc.) give away the PDF or HTML versions of their books now. As other posters have said, many p
    • You are apparently unfamiliar with the gaming market. The physical distribution chain has been dead for years. It was the result of a long, lingering illness. Which is to say, it was never much of a market to begin with.
      • Re:Saving Costs... (Score:2, Insightful)

        by MrLizard (95131)
        I suppose I'm imagining the three stores I go to locally to buy my P&P books then. (And I'm stuck in semi-rural Indiana, too.) I'm clearly very deluded. I wonder what they are really? Vacant lots? Porno shops? Seedy biker bars? I may never know...

        As to my unfamiliarty with the gaming market...I've been actively writing in it for six years. I'm well aware the b&m market is dying, but it's not dead yet, and anything which can be done to revive it...or just keep it on life support for as long as possib
    • Books are sold to distributors at about 25% of retail cost (and there has to be a small profit on that), so, if you just cut out the physical costs of the books, you will save about 15-20 percent.
      But no distributor or retailer is required. So they could be selling the PDFs at 25% or less of the retail cost. You're right about them not wanting to undercut the retailers though.
  • Here's the deal. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 16, 2006 @09:33AM (#15548171)
    If they're going to load them up with DRM and make it all crippleware, I'll pay 1/10 of the price of a hardbound copy.

    If they remove the crippleware and sell them as straight PDFs, I'll pay 1/2 of the price of a hardbound copy.

    If they sell crippleware versions at the same price of the hardbound copy, then I'll wait until someone cracks the DRM and posts them on the internet, and I'll get them for free.

    That's how it works. It would be refreshing if some publishers realized that, but it's no big deal from my end.
  • by lilnobody (148653) on Friday June 16, 2006 @09:42AM (#15548223)
    This shows foresight, as WotC hasn't had to deal with piracy for as long as the music companies have. They must be aware just how freely their books are available on limewire, and as long as people want them digitally, they'll sell them instead of not even have a piece of the action. Good! I imagine we'll even be able to search the text, once the DRM is cracked--most excellent.

    What they don't get is that I download copies to supplement the physical copies I own, so I can look up something on the road from a book I don't have as I prepare the next session for my group. They are seeing it as a replacement, as it costs as much as a book.

    I'm not planning to pay as much as a book costs to get something that isn't as good as one. Back to limewire for me. But their quick acceptance of digital distribution, unlike that of most media companies, leaves me hope that they will get it before 4.0...

    nobody
  • Roll your own (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sckeener (137243) on Friday June 16, 2006 @11:19AM (#15548991)
    (I'm buzzing. I always love it when I submit something that is accepted.)

    I recently looked into rolling my own PDF copies of my gaming books. Here is the thread on Enworld [enworld.org].

    For those that don't want to click on that link, I basically talked to 3 IP lawyers about how to do it. It all comes down to the receipt. You have to have the receipt to prove purchase. A scanned receipt is fine as long as it shows your name and the product. Basically you are making your own watermarked pdfs. One IP lawyer with 20 years in the software IP field told me a horror story about how you could have the original software CD, license #, have the software registered with the vendor, and you would still need to produce the receipt to prove ownership. Without the receipt it could be stolen.....
    • Yeah..or you could just not care and do it anyway.
      Its your stuff.
      Unless you're caught distributing it, I don't think it would ever even remotely come into question.
      • I've had it happen. I sat down at a table and a player didn't want to play with me simply because I was using a laptop with legal pdfs. Gaming is a social activity. It isn't like I just want to listen to some music alone in my room. I am going to want to be able to access the data when I am surround by other people.
        • If someone is going to be that picky, don't play with them, they're probably going to be pricks the entire session. That example also doesn't contradict what I said, you had legal PDFs and if he jumps all the hoops so will he, how would that have made the outcome any different? It won't.

          I've never run into a single person who cared if what I had was in PDF form or paper form as long as they contained the same information.

          And someone getting picky at a gaming table isn't the same as getting busted for copyri
          • I didn't have a way to prove they were legal at the time at the game table. I didn't have any receipt and they weren't watermarked/drm'ed. Admittedly the same thing could be said about any book too...without a receipt as far as anyone at a gaming table knew, the book is stolen. You run into those sort of pricks all the time with online files....it is the same sort of deal as some DJs or music artists not liking anyone that has MP3s...viewing them all as crooks. I'd prefer if I sat down at a convention w
  • by Phase Shifter (70817) on Friday June 16, 2006 @11:21AM (#15549001) Homepage
    Steve Jackson Games has been doing this for a while now [sjgames.com], with their own games as well as others.

    This may be a big deal for D&D fans, but for people who play RPGs in general it's nothing new.

    • WotC has provided some D&D books as PDFs for some time, and SJG doesn't (or at least hasn't for long, its been a couple months since I was on e23, and e23's blocked where I am right now) make its whole catalog available as PDFs. There are lots of publishers that do release everything as PDFs in the RPG business, including lots of PDF-only publishers, but WotC is far and away the biggest player in the business, so this is pretty significant.
  • i think the paper books should come with a card or something for a free copy of the ebook, might lead to more ebook only purchases too.

    this whole idea seems alright to me, but personally i'd prefer a paper book to an ebook anyday. stacks of books on the table covered with snackfoods is part of the magic.

  • That is fine and all, but where are official PDFs of the old school TSR series of books and modules? I would love to get some PDFs of my old favorites like Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, Queen of the Demomweb Pits, White Plume Mountain etc. etc. I know they have just a couple up on the site, but why not republish it all?
  • by Psykechan (255694) on Friday June 16, 2006 @12:02PM (#15549312)
    OK, I see a lot of people complaining that these are DRM encumbered and that they are the same price as the hardcover copies. There is no benefit to purchasing these over the printed books. Well there are slight benefits such as serchable text but that's about it.

    I agree though, it's not worth it. The solution is to not buy it.

    I am sure that people have been demanding a PDF release for quite a while. This is pretty much the only way to do it. Release it as restricted PDF to cut down on "sharing" of the files is obvious but why make it the same price as the paper material? Simply to not piss off the small game vendors.

    Yes the local RPG outlets are usually Mom & Pop style stores owned and operated by fans. They have a few rooms in back where you can get together with other players and play a game; if you need more players or are looking for a group, they offer a bulletin board. This is where new players learn how to play.

    They have been slowly going the way of the video game arcade. The difference is that video games could easily move right into the home. RPGs, a social experience, aren't so lucky. Role-playing cannot survive in an online only world. I've tried dozens of times including currently with WoW but it isn't the same. It's like online poker; the mechanics are there but the social aspect is gone.

    Now I personally hate D&D, as well as the whole D20 system, but it does bring new blood into the hobby. (So does LARPing but that's another story) RPG based video games also do but afterwards players need a place to meet up with others. These game stores are exactly that.

    If people purchase their books and resources online exclusively, the struggling game stores lose even more money and close. Once they close, the gamers either play in their homes or leave the hobby entirely. Either way, there is no new blood infused into the hobby. No people to buy the RPG books be it printed or PDF and the game industry suffers.

    So if you like the hobby, go support your local game store. Buy your overpriced splat books there instead of online. Have a chat with the owner, he's probably there. I don't think that his story will differ much from what you've just read here.
  • The D20 system is already online, it's open source:

    http://www.d20srd.org/ [d20srd.org]

    Almost every RPG book there ever was and will be gets scanned in and put on usenet/irc (see also comics). Can't be much fun playing without a big pile of books though.
  • Goldang, slap my ass and call me Sally. This is better than a fried pickle at the fair. I won't have to carry that crap aroun in the truck no more. When Wally wants to throw one a them spells at Bobby Lee, he won't have to find all 'em books. He kin jus pull it up on the tv screen. It won't take so long to wallop poor ole Bobby Lee's little wimpy ass troll back to garage door with my cipherin double-ought spell from my old fearsome ass-kickin chicken. Course, we won't get as drunk no more cause it won't tak
  • ...but I don't know about PDFs. Direct dead-tree to electronic conversion isn't all that great an idea for any kind of reference book, especially this kind. It would be better if there were some kind of specialized interface where you could look up specific rules at a glance. Drop-down menus with subcategories to bring up any information you want.
  • by Asmor (775910)
    Here's an idea.

    Set up WotCbooks.com. Sell books on their at cover price. When you buy the book, you're given an instant PDF download, and the normal off-the-shelf version is shipped out to you.

    I defy anyone to find a flaw in that plan which doesn't exist in the current system. No, the fact that you can't double dip customers isn't a flaw.

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