Likely much like many that will read this my opinion has changed a great deal in the last few years. When the PDF first arrived on the gaming scene I hated it. It was slow to load cumbersome and just plain annoying to have a big ass laptop taking up a huge chunk of space on the game table.
Fast forward a few years and tablets become the rage and laptops go from mobile monitors to notebooks. Add to that the industry becoming savvy with PDF design and they are far more welcome. In one swift stroke gone are the days of lugging milk crates from car to table. Not only do we have all the books we need for the game session in one simple fast to access place. We likely have our whole gaming collection on that one device.
Books both softcover and hardcover are great but at some point, if you are like me or several of my fellow gamers. You have to look at your gaming wall having expanded from one too… 2, 4, 6, 8 bookshelves of games. At that point, you have to decide. With PDF’s saving you so much potential space. Maybe just maybe it is time to convert some of that collection into PDF and only keeps your most used books.
So these days I reserve my physical books to the settings I know that I am going to spend the most time on or collector books such as my Hardback Rifts books as well as my Leather bound D&D and Cypher Systems RPG books. I consume most of my RPG content digitally now.
There is a balance to be struck I think. I have not bought a paper rulebook in 20 years or more. For a lot of that time I was playing games my players and I knew and we had all the rules for. I was/am a Rolemaster player and GM and the company was dead or dying for a lot of that time so there were no new publications I was interested in.
More recently I have gone from few and far bewteen face to face gaming weekends to daily RPG snacks in the form of my PBP game. Now I am roleplaying every day I have started to examine my games and rules and I have started buying rules and games again. Now I am buying in PDF format but Ido print out pages I am going to want to refer frequently to or make quick notes on.
I also create my own PDFs. I have replaced all the useful charts on the traditional GMs screen with a single PDF of just a few pages. PDFs on a tablet are not always that quick to scan back and forth through if you cannot quite remember the correct name for the chart or rule you are looking for. A 6 page PDF I can whizz through to find what I want with a single swipe of my finger.
I think now I am firmly in the PDF camp but the deciding factor was that I can create my own PDFs and produce my own paper resources as needed.
Now that is a great piece of advice! custom PDF’s I like that. I have done something like that as well with OneNote. I will screen cap info I know I will want to look back and forth at often. And I put it in my Campaign GM notes in my OneNote Folder.