A look at GURPS Mysteries and its PDF version.

My print-on-demand (POD) copy of GURPS Mysteries came in the mail today; as it happens, I bought the PDF version years ago. But I also rather wanted a physical copy to go with my other GURPS books, so I picked up the POD and decided to compare the two.  If nothing else, it’s a little instructive about how the state of the art has advanced.

  • Similarities: Both versions have clean, easily-read pages.  The interior to the PDF version happened to be in black and white, so there’s no real difference in coloration.  Obviously, the text has remained virtually unchanged.
  • Differences: The pages of the POD are not glossy (the binding seems firm and stable).  The PDF version has marginally sharper text than the POD version.  Images are likewise slightly better-looking in the PDF version.  Obviously, you can search the PDF copy for text; just as obviously, the POD copy still works if the power goes out.

All in all, print-on-demand has gotten to the point where it’s capable of reproducing the look of non-glossy printed books from the last decade, which is actually pretty spiffy.  We’re talking professional binding, color covers, good art reproductions, and generally a high enough level of quality for most normal uses.  And let me be honest, here: this is the next thing to black magic, for me.  I remember the days when we were stapling everything and hardcover RPG supplements were these strange, exotic, and frightfully expensive artifacts.  Now it’s never been easier to get a good-looking POD.  It’s nice, sometimes, to live in the future.

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