Saturday, January 18, 2014

POD Review: Sense of the Slight of Hand Man and Kinkos

I backed The Sense of the Slight-of-Hand Man because it was a Call of Cthulhu campaign and was written by Dennis Detwiller - a combination that is always a sure thing. I only backed it at the PDF level, but was very excited when it was released.

I am not a fan of reading PDFs so I started looking for a POD service to print out my PDF for me. I once again chose Fed Ex Kinkos to see how well they would compare to my last experience, which had been good.

The Sense of the Slight-of-Hand Man is in 8.5x11 format, has a color cover with B&W interior, and is around 298 pages. Remember, this is a review of the quality of the POD and not the content. However, I will say there is a lot of white space in the interior, which I have to believe could have been avoided to make the page count smaller.

I had the PDF printed as double-sided, black & white interior with a color cover, on 30% recycled white paper. It was also given a clear vinyl cover, black vinyl back, and spiral bound. The total cost was $38.42. In comparison, you can buy a hard-cover from DriveThruRPG for $49.99, or a soft-cover from Arc Dream publishing for $39.99.

Once again, I was very happy with the quality of the printed materials. The text is very clear and crisp with no bleeding, and the details can be clearly seen in all the images. Most pages contain a faded watermark, and it can be seen clearly without interfering with text or images.

The coil binding is not the sturdiest in the world, likely due to the large size of the book. I suspect that if used a lot, the coil may become unwound or slip out of some of the other punches.

That being said, I love the coil binding on this. Since this is a campaign, the Keeper will be flipping through the book constantly, referring to tables, stats, and the index. The use of the coil binding works well and allows the pages to be folded with ease - something that could not be done with a soft- or hard-cover format.

After I printed off the PDF, I was lucky enough to win a copy of the soft cover version from the Miskatonic University Podcast. (Thanks guys!) I believe this is a printed copy from the Kickstarter, not from DTRPG.

This gives me a unique opportunity to compare the POD and the printed version together. Unfortunately, my camera has disappeared so I am unable to show side by side shots.

The printed version is of much better quality than the POD, which is to be expected. The biggest different between the two is that the large amount of whitespace I have in the edges of the POD version are actually watermarks and designs. These show up in the printed version quite well, but not the POD version. 

However, the two stack up nicely to each other. The text and images are clearer in the soft cover (again this is expected), but the POD holds its own. I don't believe that anyone who printed this PDF with Kinkos would be disappointed.

Is it worth it? Its hard to say. If the soft cover from DTRPG is of the same quality as the soft cover I have, then probably not. For only a few dollars more you can get the "official" copy, although I have not been able to compare that specific version yet (I think). However, I still keep going back to the coil binding on the POD version. For long campaigns and books, its a must have.

In the end, the quality of the POD version is great, and I will definitely be using Kinkos in the future.