Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dear PDF Publishers: Please DON'T Do This...

So when I download a freebie or purchase a D&D/OSR/RPG PDF, I generally take it to my friendly local small independant print shop where the absolute dear of an owner uses an Acrobat plug-in to output the PDF in booklet format (although lately I've been handling the mouse-clicks) which is than printed, folded, and stapled into assembled booklet form by the absolute behemoth of a printer in the back.

However, whenever I've tried that with a purchased or free watermarked PDF, the plug-in is denied permission to output in booklet format. Which kind of defeats the purpose of exporting the file into an easy to read, store and use format (with the amount of reality TV that The Warden watches on MY computer, referencing the file on the computer is not a practical option, nevermind that I HATE using a computer while DMing).

So yeah, watermarking PDFs, please don't waste my time with that jive...and I seriously doubt it is going to help you make a living with your hobby publishing venture. Considering that EDIT 95%+ of purchased PDFs I own don't have watermarks, it really makes you look like a worried dork.

My Watermark is integrity and dedication to supporting the publishers that produce material that I use, there's no way that I'm going to be part of cash-blocking any of the awesome dudes out there in OSR publishing land!

18 comments:

  1. 99%+of PDF publisher's dont watermark?

    The vast majority of PDF publishers use OneBookShelf.

    The vast majority of PDFs at OneBookShelf are watermarked.

    Not saying I like watermarks, but you number is way off.

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  2. Alas, I doubt watermarks are going away. If it's an OSR pub., maybe they would be willing to forward a clean copy?

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  3. I've gotten watermarked and non-watermarked stuff via OBS. I think that it might be the publisher's decision.

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  4. i believe at OBS watermarks are the default... publishers can turn that feature off if they want

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  5. Maaaaan, I can't even get the printshop to print ANY of my pdfs, freebie or paid-for. What's your secret?

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  6. I must admit when reading a pdf I have printed it's annoying to see my name at the bottom of EVERY bloody page.

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  7. Tenkar, you are correct and I thank you for the science :)

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  8. I hereby vow not to watermark. I really had no idea people did that. OSR is both a small community and a mature community with a few bucks to spare, I don't think piracy is a big issue.

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  9. Austrodavicus: So change your footers and headers.

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  10. I'm not sure if it would help or not, but what if you use PDFCreator or CutePDF (basically, a print driver that outputs a .pdf file) to print your watermarked .pdf files to a new .pdf file and then try to output that as a booklet?

    Also, I know that some print drivers offer output in booklet format, and generally allow saving the output to a file. If you output in booklet format to Postscript you could then run that through Acrobat and create a new .pdf, that might work.

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  11. So, wait...watermarked PDFs can't be printed?

    I left the option on at OBS, but only because I really didn't think it made a difference. If that prevents printing, then sure, I'll turn it off forthwith.

    Sorry for my ignorance on the subject. Truly.

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  12. watermarking itself isn't the problem, the cheap plugin Balir's favorite print shop uses is the problem.
    I've got dozens of watermarked pdfs printed out in several different styles with no problem at all. A plugin isn't even needed by acrobat to do booklet printing is it?

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  13. So change your footers and headers.

    @faoladh - I didn't know it was possible to do that when printing a pdf. I'll have to look into it.

    watermarked PDFs can't be printed?

    @Erin - yep they can.

    While I understand some publishers use watermarks to tackle piracy, it seems like a waste of time in my book. There's a whole subculture of our scene that is determined to scan and file-share every RPG item out there, often within days of a product's release.

    I don't doubt there's pdf editing software which would have a function allowing the deletion of the watermark. It's also possible to print the pdf and then scan it, minus the watermark which sits at the bottom of the page. My point being that physical product or pdf, whatever measures publishers take to protect their products from piracy, there's a way to beat it and someone who will do so.

    I think there are other, far more effective ways of tackling piracy, which let's face it, will never be beaten. Encourage brand loyalty, get a reputation for good customer service, have a mix of both free and for sale items, put up decent preview pdfs so customers can try before they buy, and I'm sure there's many others.

    Publishers will never win the war against piracy by tackling it head on with things like watermarks which punish the customer yet do nothing to stop piracy, but they can take steps to greatly lessen its impact by winning the hearts and minds of the community. Corny stuff I know.

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  14. austrodavicus: My mistake. It's probably not possible without modifying the pdf document. Not sure what I was thinking.

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  15. @austrodavicus: Not corny at all. I hear you on tackling pirates. I'm all for thwarting dickheads, but not at the expense of loyal fans. And, truly, if a watermark frustrates just 1% of legit fans while stopping 0% of pirates, it's clearly not worth it.

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  16. I'm pretty sure I have printed watermarked pdfs. Using the Adobe PDF reader it should work, or am I totally out of my depth? It sounds like I'm not totally alone with that experience.

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