Friday, June 12, 2009

Kindle DX rule book

I returned home yesterday to find that I received my new Kindle DX from I had been looking forward to getting my hands on a large-sized PDF reading device ever since I first heard about the Plastic Logic Reader. That particular brand won't be on the market for another year. Meanwhile, we have the Kindle DX.

The Kindle DX is not to be confused with the Kindle, which has a much smaller screen. The DX has a large screen that is suitable for double columns and charts.

The display technology is remarkable. It is not a bright LED screen that you can't read in sunlight. It's like a giant digital watch screen that needs an outside light to be read. Unfortunately, "turning pages" seems slow in comparison to doing the same thing with Adobe Reader on your computer. However, I imagine that this issue will be addressed in future versions of the Kindle.

It displays in greyscale only. But that's fine since most rule books are in black-and-white. The words are more important than the pretty pictures.

You can easily hook your DX up to a computer with a USB cable. Your computer treats it like a removable external hard drive. You can load it up with PDF files (4 GB capacity, I believe) and you're good to go. Switching out PDF files is a breeze.

This is the future of game rule books. PDF files are nice but it is awkward to use a desktop or laptop computer at the game table. This device is no larger than a typical hardback game rule book. As a matter of fact, it's thinner than many rule books. Best of all, you can load it with thousands of pages.

All game publishers should publish Kindle versions of their rule books. The caveat is that they must put more effort into it than just simply saving the rule book in PDF format. Anything less is unacceptable and defeats the purpose of putting it in electronic format. The document should be filled with links to particular pages on the table of contents. Not only that, the document should be filled with cross-reference links. Instead of having "(see Chapter 4, EQUIPMENT, for more information)," place an actual link to that page.

This new medium for text information is fantastic. But those who write material for it must do it in a manner that takes advantage of its power. Simply scanning book pages directly to PDF format would only result in a marginally useful document on a Kindle. But if rule books are assembled in PDF format with links, it makes all the difference in the world.

I only got my Kindle DX yesterday. In the next week I will experiment with creating cross-referenced PDF documents in Adobe InDesign CS4. This will eventually lead to development of my own house rule book for my current 0e/1e D&D game.


I just found out that it is not possible to do anything useful with PDF files on the Kindle DX. Hyperlinking for cross-referencing is not possible. PDF table of contents doesn't work. It only reads the PDF and nothing more. This thing is USELESS to me. I will try to return it or sell it on eBay.