Thursday, January 22, 2009

Little Books

Here's another point of purely accidental praise for OD&D, in its "3 little books" presentation format. I don't think I've seen anyone else point this out, but here it is -- The "3 little books" format is absolutely perfect for presentation in digital publishing on the Internet.

For example, most current PDF publishers have to go through some awkward gymnastics in order to make their product usable on a computer screen. The standard 8.5x11 page format is, of course, exactly opposite the layout of your computer screen, requiring scrolling within a single page (twice as much if it's in 2-column format, both down and back up and down again), or possibly zooming-out, rendering the text teeny-tiny-unreadable. Many publishers feel it necessary to release their products in 2 formats: one, for printing (8.5x11), and the second, completely reformatted for computer-viewing (11x8.5 or something).

Compare this to the "little books" format: The whole point to them, of course, is that were originally published semi-professionally, using standard sheets of 8.5x11 paper printed landscape-wise, which could then be bound together as a booklet. Well, that's exactly what we can all do today, both with our computer monitors and personal printers!

If you open up the little books, the two facing pages appear together in 8.5x11 landscape format, which is precisely the same shape as a standard computer screen, in a convenient normal-sized font (for example, in my PDF reader, I select View > Page Display > Two-Up). If I want to print digital copies of the little books, it's just as easy to print them out in "booklet" format on standard paper at home, put staples through the center, and have exact duplicates of how they're supposed to be bound in the first place (for example, in my PDF viewer, it's: File > Print > Page Scaling: "Booklet Printing").

So, I've actually started laying out all my own D&D printouts in the same format as the "little books": It's both hands-down the easiest format for viewing on a computer screen, and lets me print out and bind my own "booklets" at home. Using Open Office, I set my page size to 5.5x8.5 (margins 0.38 L/R, 0.50 T/B, Arial 9-pt font), and then when I want I can print using File > Print > Options > Brochure (using Landscape-oriented paper).

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