Most people reading this are probably already familiar with Pathfinder or at least role playing games in general but, for those who are not, Pathfinder is what I call a Big Box, Big World, or simply Big RPG. This type of game requires anything more than two rule books to play past a basic game, one for the Game Master and one for the player(s). More complex games require more books, such as adventure modules or specific monster manuals. These books themselves are often a serious obstacle to playing the game. The books can be expensive and take up a fair bit of space to store and transport. Paizo, the makers of Pathfinder, have addressed both of these issues with the release of their new Pocket Editions. These beautifully constructed books have 100% of the same information, at 75% of the size and 50% of the price. The paper quality is the same as the original hardcover versions, and the soft cover is still sufficiently heavy to stand up to typical gamer abuse.
One of the nice things about the new editions is that the page count and layout are identical to their full sized counterparts. If a Cleric wants to drop a Chaos Hammer on someone, the details are going to be on page 254, regardless of which edition the different players in the group are using. As well, being a softcover, it is actually easier to quickly flip through the pages to find things.
As usual, the positives are not without corresponding negatives. In order to keep the layout and page count the same, Paizo has simply shrunk the whole book to 75% of the original scale. That includes the font size. It is akin to reading the PDF on a full sized tablet, but without the ability to zoom in. This will not be a problem for most people, but the small print may be an issue for those who play in only moderately lit spaces or who have existing problems with their eyesight. The other issue is that while a hardcover book tends to lay fairly flat when open, the smaller size and lighter weight cover make the pocket editions more likely to close or flip pages on their own. Not a major issue, but still warrants a mention (and maybe a bookmark or clip).
Generally speaking, if the print size is not a concern, this is a great product. It is an affordable option, both for initial purchases by new players and for replacement books for those whose hardcover versions are getting just a little too worn.
Currently, the Pathfinder Core Rulebook and Bestiary supplement are available in Pocket Editions. Hopefully Paizo will continue to build the product line and make other expansion volumes available in this format soon.
Overall, the Pathfinder Pocket Editions get a solid 4 out of 5. Good things do come in small(er) packages.