The King is Dead

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Two Columns or Not Two Columns? That's a Good Question.

from Ignite Living

So...  We all "know" the majority of small-publisher RPG material is sold in PDF format for use on computers and e-readers and the like.  We also "know" that the majority of RPG books are formatted in 2-column layout because it looks more professional (and because that's the way Uncle Gary did it).  Two-column format and electronic books don't actually get along that well, but I've been laying out The King is Dead's playtest in that format because it's what I'm used to seeing and because it makes me feel like I'm writing an honest-to-goodness professional-level book.

With all that said, what do you think is the best format?  Please vote in the accompanying poll. 

11 comments:

  1. I'll be blunt, I prefer single column and once I start releasing digital copies I will be releasing both a PDF and an EBook to make using the product with readers at the table easier.

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  2. I couldn't agree more +David Scott. Two Savage Worlds licensee products spring to mind: Agents of Oblivion and Streets of Bedlam. Both are excellent for electronic and published books with a single column black and white layout.

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  3. I voted for two columns because while I read PDFs plenty of times on my tablet or laptop (and I HATE two column layouts on them!), I do like to print books as well. And I hate the single-column-look on a printed book.

    Can't you just do both?!??!?! :-)

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  4. Yeah, if it's possible to do "screen" and "print" versions of the layout, that would be ideal. But if I had to go one or the other, I think single-column, particularly if the published book is going to be digest format.

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  5. I am entirely ready to see the end of the double column. I know it looks good in print in the larger formatted books, but as book sizes get smaller, the single column remains easier to read, and all the more so on a computer screen.

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  6. Single column for ebooks, but two column for print.

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  7. I prefer two columns for PDFs. Not only does it look better for printing and take up fewer pages, it's also easier to read on my Nexus 7, because I can zoom in 200% and scroll down each column. If it's a full-sized PDF with one column I still have to zoom in to read it, but then I have to keep scrolling left and right to read each sentence, which is extremely annoying. Smaller PDFs with one column would be fine for reading on my Nexus 7, but when I'm actually gaming I use a laptop, and then I'd much prefer a full-sized PDF (otherwise the text is huge and there's not much information on each page).

    So if you're only planning to release one version of the PDF, I'd prefer two columns. But if you're going to release a second version anyway, I'd actually prefer an ebook format rather than a smaller PDF.

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  8. Option C.) Layout for RPG books is an art no one has yet mastered. Trying something new and experimental might be the way to go.

    Otherwise, two-column format is the safe route.

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  9. Start formatting books in landscape format, then 2 columns works well on both screen and print

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  10. Every RPG product I've ever seen all suffered from what I (subjectively) considered a lack of white space and a total insistence on running every section of every chapter right up against the preceding sections. There's something to be said for moving things to the tops of new pages, even if it leaves a gap at the bottom of the preceding page. It makes for easier riffling through the book to quickly find something. I guess I'm in the minority with this opinion, though.
    See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horror_vacui
    As far as columns, to my eye, letter-size needs two columns, but small sized pages can get away with one.

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