|Digest or large format? That is the question. |
And yeah, White Wolf made that one on the right for me, and only me.
OK, look. The shape of a book has always been subject to economics. The book as we know it (specifically the sort of book to which the Romans gave the name codex as opposed to the more commonly used liber, a book in scroll form) became a thing because the early Christians a) were generally working class; b) tended to have a lot of books, some of which – only some of which – got compiled into the Bible. And you know what the main thing is about a book with covers and a binding compared to a scroll on a wooden roller? You can write on both sides of the paper.
We have books with covers and spines because they were cheaper than scrolls.
This is pertinent.
|The 1977 Monster Manual|
|Late 80s softback manuals.|
|Early 90s hardback manual, softback supplement.|
|2000s hardback supplements.|
In the UK in the 80s, this was different, mainly because of the way that game books like Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf were so popular here, and because mass-market publishers like Penguin (via its young people's imprint, Puffin) and Corgi got in on the action, games like Dragon Warriors, the Fighting Fantasy RPG and Maelstrom were published as mass-market paperbacks.
|Yeah, it's tatty, but seriously, it's 32 years old.|
The point is that as the games industry waxed and waned, the large format book became normative, whether hardback or softback. Games rulebooks stayed within roughly the same price ballpark for a very long time, partly influenced in my opinion by industry leaders like White Wolf and Wizards of the Coast selling their corebooks cheaply in the early 2000s as loss leaders. It's only recently that book prices have risen in line with inflation.
I have sometimes wondered if these lovely home made digests are deliberately designed to look a little out of the reach of the usual gamer, the way that a farmer's market aims for a certain kind of clientele. They have a subdued, tasteful farmer's market sort of feel to them. They don't look out of place on shelves next to my "proper" books.
I've been thinking about this in laying out Chariot.
I was really keen to have Chariot as a 6"x9" trade paperback. I like digests. There's something about the smaller books that pleases me aesthetically. I loved the heft, quality and layout of the Dungeons & Dragons Essentials paperbacks, for instance. But, in laying it out, it became apparent to me that it was going to hit 300 pages; the print-on-demand cost of premium colour print (the cheap colour print is out of the question, it being barely better than newsprint) would have wiped my budget off the map. So, it's going to be an 8"x10" softback now, which in dimension is roughly the size of the European albums as recently reprinted in English by Humanoids, Sloth, Self-Made Hero and the like, which appeals to me because European comics are a thing I like. Having a page 51mm wider and 25mm taller... well, look (I should say that there isn't as much white space on the output file because the image output here included the bleed).
|6"x9" (click for a closer look)|
|8"x10" (click for a closer look)|