The question of concern is How can I preserve books, but keep them accessible?. There has been a good bit of chatter in comments about the on-topicness of the question, and I have seen the close vote count change a few times. The question is short, so I will reproduce it here:

How can I preserve my older, or more delicate, RPG books? My collection includes some older books (from the 1970s-1980s), some of which are in less than stellar condition. They may be paperbacks, have loose bindings, etc.

I would like to preserve them for future enjoyment, but also keep them accessible. My contractor is salivating at the thought of building an expensive, climate-controlled room with each book individually held in a display case. However, that would make the books inaccessible and difficult to enjoy.

I don't need a way to safeguard the entire collection, just a curated subset of the most valuable or at-risk items.

I think VLAZ raised a particularly salient point in this comment:

The expected usage of RPG books is quite different to, say, a novel. You'd be going through them a lot to reference different sections. Math books might not need be referenced that often or you could extract from them the small sections you need. For an RPG book, you might need to reference 100 pages (e.g., encompassing races, classes, combat rules) multiple times a session. Also, RPG books are usually shared around the table, so you might have one that, say, five people need to look up stuff during a play session. AFAIK, that's not how mathematicians use their books.

While this is similar to how I used some of my maths texts while doing graduate work, I think the point is well made. But, given volume of comments and the observed up and down changes in the close vote count, I would like to offer this question up for a more thorough community review here on meta.

Is this question on topic?


2 Answers 2


On Topic

I'd like to open with an oft useful distinction. A question being askable on another stack or useful to other fields is irrelevant to its topicality here. Our criterion is fairly simple (some exceptions apply, but not here): Is the question about TRPGs (or LARPs etc.)? And perhaps a more easily workable framing for this kind of question: Is the thing asked about a part of the hobby?

Owning RPG books is a part of playing RPGs. So is keeping them and preserving them. And there's even aspects which are entirely RPG specific. RPG books (and varying with time and publisher) have specific properties. So asking here immediately focuses it to that kind of book (or those kinds). Secondly, RPG books have a specific use case for which they want to be kept "accessible". Both of these would change massively if the same (or a similar) question was asked on Parenting or History, and so the answers should accordingly.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The “better/different/more specific answer” criteria from our on-topic help (in turn from campaign research questions part 2) might be useful to reference directly also. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 21:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't see the point of the first two sentences; Thomas doesn't seem to raise the argument that this is on-topic on another site and thus shouldn't be asked here. \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    Commented Mar 24, 2022 at 16:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ RE: And there's even aspects which are entirely RPG specific. RPG books (and varying with time and publisher) have specific properties. What properties are specific (read: unique) about RPG books? They are shaped, constituted, and printed the same way other illustrated books are with the same basic materials: paper and ink. \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    Commented Mar 24, 2022 at 16:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TylerH We don't need the aspects to be unique, that's why I opened like I did (and I opened so because it comes up a lot, not because it was specifically raised here. At least not by Thomas). The properties and usage may be shared with other fields, but that doesn't mean that saying they are RPG books doesn't say anything about their properties (and doubly so for usage) \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil Mod
    Commented Mar 24, 2022 at 16:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Someone_Evil My confusion was about your statement that RPGs have "specific properties"... what specific properties do they have (other than the obvious conclusion that they are about the subject of RPGs...) that other books do not? \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    Commented Mar 24, 2022 at 17:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TylerH the usage profile of an RPG book is usually harder on it than on other books. They are printed at times on the worst paper but have seen use far beyond what a school book used for a decade sees. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented Mar 29, 2022 at 15:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Trish Fair enough; I am perhaps spoiled by D&D 5E as the only hard copy books I own (PDFs or scans are all I ever had of Pathfinder or other RPGs), so maybe WoTC uses slightly higher quality printing methods/materials. \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    Commented Mar 30, 2022 at 18:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TylerH You need to look at books from the 90s, where the paper was bad when they came out already. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented Mar 30, 2022 at 22:57


Sure, I agree with my own comment there but let me offer even more of an argument: If we were to say that RPG books are not in any way special and thus not fit for this site, then I would immediately also think that dice fall into the same category.

In what way are dice more related to RPGs than books?

I would argue they are not. There are a variety of questions about dice as props on the site. How to use them, what probability curves you would get out of them, about dice rolling programs, etc. If books are not special, then neither are these topics - probabilities should go to [stats.se], for example. Questions about dice themselves should be asked on other stacks, as well.

I do not think anybody would agree to that. Neither would I. Dice are intrinsically linked with RPGs. Even if not all RPGs use them, dice do have special meaning within the hobby. So do books.

The oldest non-RPG physical book that I currently own is older than me. Comes from my father. And I have read it a lot - the cover is no longer attached to the rest of the pages, and for years now it smells of perfume after some was spilled onto it more than a decade ago. The book is readable but it has had its share of adventures.

An RPG book would laugh at this and call it a Tuesday. RPG books are regularly handed around, tossed, dropped, handled with dirty hands, have drinks spilled onto them, and generally have a rough time. Sure, not all are handled like that but it is what you can reasonably expect an RPG book to go through.

Moreover, books are integral to RPGs. They contain rules, tables, lists, even artwork that you might need to look at multiple times during a session. Books are the thing that make the session work. More than dice do, I would argue. If I were to be forced to prepare and play a session without either a book or without dice, I would go without dice. There are other ways to resolve situations in-game. There are very little other good ways to keep the entire table on the same page (some times literally).

Keep in mind what the site is about. It is about the hobby. And without the books, I would argue the hobby would not exist. It is a bit silly to make the claim that RPG books are not at all related to the hobby.


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