I love RPGs. If I take a break at work I pull out an RPG to read. When I go on vacation, or if I am going on a business trip, I pack some RPGs to read and hopefully to play. The smaller the book the more likely I am to have it readily available or to pack it up into my luggage.
This is why I love digest size books. They can easily be carried in a jacket pocket, or thrown into a backpack without adding a lot of weight or taking up a lot of room. I cannot say for sure, but I am guessing that about four soft cover digest size RPG books are less weight and take up less room than the traditional hardcover book size used for many RPGs. Yet they are still full of all of that gaming geek goodness that your traditional size RPG book contains!
So why do you as a GM want publishers to produce more digest size books? Simple — if your favorite game is easier to transport you are more likely to have it with you when you meet someone who plays or who might be interested in playing RPGs. Having a book with you gives you a recruiting tool. You can show this prospective player the game that you play. Add some dice to your standard travel kit and something to write on (I suggest a stack of index cards) and you might even be able to run a game if appropriate.
Digest size books take up less table space, and their text tends to zero in on the essentials of the game by excluding fluff due to the smaller page size/count. But by far the biggest advantage that I have encountered with digest size books is the exposure you gain. People who see me reading an RPG ask “What is that?” or if they know of the game they say “You play X? So do I!” I have found new players thanks to these books and I have recruited new gamers as well just because I was seen reading a digest size RPG.
You can have this happen with any size RPG book, but I am less likely to be caught carrying the Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Player’s Handbook unless I am on my way to a game. With my laptop and tech gear already in my bag I want any additional items that I carry to be lightweight. Plus I think that the digest size books tend to have more interesting covers that provoke conversation.
And forget PDFs as a recruiting tool. They are great for other reasons, but the creep factor of someone reading over my shoulder to see what is on my laptop screen kills the recruiting chance that a digest size book’s cover might lead to (on the other hand, reading the book over my shoulder will also bring about the creep factor).
Portable, highly visible, and fully ready to play games with the digest size RPG is a format that I hope continues to grow in popularity. I have even found myself more likely to buy an RPG if it is available in the digest size because they tend to be slightly cheaper as well as having all of the benefits listed above. If you are a publisher please consider offering more products in this format. I suspect many of us gamers would be grateful if you did.
What do you think? Can a digest size book help you recruit players for your game? Should publishers print more of them? Leave your comments below, and remember that the gamemaster is a player too. Have fun with it!