Hasbro’s Wizards of the Coast is finally relenting after years of selling their D&D player manuals as print-only.
Polygon reports that they're releasing an ebook app called D&D Reader.
No, it’s not the officially licensed PDFs that fans have wanted for decades. But, if it’s implemented correctly, it could be about as good as die-hard fans are likely to get.
The D&D Reader is being built by Dialect, the same content marketing and digital design company that drives the digital D&D magazine called Dragon+. Reader will be available for iOS and Android devices, and feature all the core books you need to run your own campaign, including the 5th edition Player’s Handbook and the Dungeon Master’s Guide. The app allows you to buy them in part or in whole. As an added benefit, there are even free modules for a subset of races and classes.
Yes, there’s a search function. But in the beta version that we were shown, it wasn’t tremendously effective. A search for “magic missile,” for instance, simply returns all of the available modules that include the term. It’s up to users to hunt down the information they need within each module. There are hyperlinks throughout that key off of spell names and the like, but in the version we were shown, most of them were buggy.
Let's hope they work the bugs out before the official release.
The D&D player manuals are the type of reference books that would actually work better as an app than as print books. Readers frequently have to look up a particular detail rather than simply read from cover to cover, and that type of activity could work well with an app - if the app is developed properly.
At this point, though, it's not clear whether Wizards of the Coast is more interested in getting paid or in creating a useful tool. Polygon noted that there didn't appear to be a way to get a free ebook if you already owned the print book. Instead, readers will have to buy the content all over again inside the app. "And, while purchasing the entire book is a viable solution, buying each individual module — a package of five to 10 pages of content, perhaps — for $2.99 a pop feels exploitative."