PDF's of All D&D Books?
Getting back to the story: Hands-on with Dungeons & Dragons Next - Charlie Hall writes on Ars Technica:
The most impressive part of WoTC’s presentation, to me, was the admission that they were somewhat behind the times in not offering digital copies of their properties, both past and present. They promised that, in the coming years, they would finally release searchable PDF copies of books from every system, all the way back to the original 1970s classic. Gamers will, as the keynote’s moderator Kevin Kulp politely put it politely, finally be able to play D&D from their tablets like they can with competing properties from Paizo and countless independent RPG makers.
The article is just a review/preview of D&D Next. However it contained the tidbit above regarding PDF's. This is the first I've heard the word "PDF" used in regards to WotC releasing their content digitally. It makes the most sense to use the almost universal open PDF format as it can be consumed on every digital device there is. But WotC has been fairly cagey in the past about what format would be used.
My question is, did Charlie just assume it was going to be in PDF format? What he writes is not a direct quote from anyone at WotC. I hope WotC doesn't fall back to scared lawyer tactics and decide they need to create their own special WotC document format to "protect their IP". That will be the surest way to never sell any digital materials to people who already have them in PDF's.
If they want to sell us PDF's they need to be inexpensive. They need to be awesome PDF's with links, indexes, ways to notate etc... They need to not be DRM'd. They will be cracked anyways. WotC please just spend your DRM money on artwork or editing instead. They need to be easy to get and download/sync to devices.
In fact, I'd say to publish in multiple formats. Publish for PDF downloads direct from WotC. Publish them as Amazon ebooks. Publish them as Apple ebooks. Publish them as Google Play ebooks. Make them as easy and pervasive as possible. Put them everywhere. The easier it is to put into the hands of people the better.
Start doing other amazing digital things that can key into the ebooks. Have you thought about what kinds of sounds monsters make? Why not publish sounds and animations that you can link to? How about videos of example game play? How about links to exportable XML stats for things? Check out Brian Brushwood's Scam School. Its a great book made even better because its a digital book that can leverage things like YouTube videos.
Don't waste your digital opportunity. Sure we'll be happy with just the basics, but it could be so much more. Don't worry about making it perfect at first. Just get the stuff out of the door. But update these things and make the 5e releases the best thing ever made for digital consumption.