Retailer's Stance on PDF Deals


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  1. #1
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    Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)

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    Retailer's Stance on PDF Deals

    In response to Wizards, a lot publishers have offered PDF deals.

    Here's one retailer's response:

    ICv2 - Marcus King of Titan Games & Music on RPG PDFs

    Dear Industry Friends:

    In response to the White Wolf announcement that their Exalted 2nd Edition book will be free on PDFs -- I want to know, can they please send my store four free copies of the actual printed book? I mean, if the PDF is free, why would anyone ever need the printed book? And although I have several copies on hand, in stock at both my stores, evidently I am just a schmuck for stocking this title! Golly, thanks White Wolf!

    To my dear and close friend Lisa Stevens of Paizo, a person I care about, and a company I support, I want to say that in response to the 35% off Pathfinder books, "Lisa, will you please extend an additional 35% discount to your distribution and retail partners, who carry and support your companies products?"

    To my friends at Green Ronin, including Chris Pramas, would you also like to drop the MSRP of your True20 core book to $9.99 -- so that your distribution and retail partners can continue to support that title, and your line?

    Maybe it's just me. I'm a retailer, I just opened our second location of Titan Games & Music (in Kalamazoo, Michigan, if anyone cares), but when I see the companies, whose products I support and proudly tout to my customers, giving special pricing/treatment to a different tier or supply channel than the ones my company is in I find it incredibly insulting.

    Now, let me be clear. I will still be ordering White Wolfĺs Exalted, True20 and Pathfinder. I am not boycotting anyone's products, or dismissing their efforts. All of those companies, and those products, do well in my store(s). But, I am insulted that my friends, my business "partners" or "publishing suppliers" value another sales channel so much that they would make a special effort to support that channel over the one I have worked in for 20+ years, and hope to work in for another 20.

    Like I said, maybe it's just me.
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  • #2
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    I guess my response to the retailer would be something along the lines of "If you sell PDFs in your shop, then yes, I agree. You're getting shafted".

    Otherwise.... the business is changing and the retail sector is changing. Old models and manners of doing business aren't going to work as well anymore. PDFs are (almost certainly) here to stay, Amazon is here to stay and independents are going to have a harder time of it. The only way they are going to make it is to offer an experience that can't be obtained by buying PDFs/from Amazon. To address this particular issue (and to keep with the outrage of the day) the retailer should/could be far more concerned with the easy availabilty of pirated PDFs. Those are an even better price* than the sale prices offered!

    From Paizo / White Wolf's point of view, this is an opportunity to reach potential customers. If these potential customers can be persuaded to try a product that they wouldn't have before, this will help retailers in the end, as the sales on the PDFs won't last forever and they'll soon return to their regular prices. Hardcopy will always have a place at the game table and that's where retailers will make their money. Without knowing industry specifics, I would hazard a guess that the PDF market is magnitudes smaller than the hardcopy market is. I would also guess that those who are buying PDFs tend to be voracious fans, the kind that would pick up a PDF and if they liked the product be willing to spend more money in a game store on future purchases. I also think that this group of consumers is more likely to continue buying online if confronted with a less than satisfactory shopping experience in a brick and mortar store.

    In the end, I think retailers need to look at this as an opportunity to gain new customers.

    *Obviously I'm not condoning piracy, but I think the point stands. Almost all of the books a hobby shop sells are available online for free if one knows where to look. How does that affect sales?
    Nyarlathotep

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    Posted on paizo's forums now. Good find.
    All role playing advice is given without knowledge of you and your group. Only you and your group knows what is fun for you. What you are doing is not badwrongfun. My advice is offered based on what I think might be fun for you to try.

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    ° Ignore Wulf Ratbane
    Quote Originally Posted by Filcher View Post
    In response to Wizards, a lot publishers have offered PDF deals.

    Here's one retailer's response:

    ICv2 - Marcus King of Titan Games & Music on RPG PDFs
    Consider me shocked, shocked that a brick-and-mortar store owner shares WotC's backward paranoia about PDFs.

    I don't know if I can handle any more shocking revelations this week.

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    I find it extremely...ironic that on one hand you have people claiming that hardly anyone uses/buys PDF's, but then on the other hand you have a RPG retailer claiming that PDF sales are sooooo huge that it destroys their business profits.

    Don't worry Titan Games, its not PDF's that are killing your retail stores, its Amazon, because I imagine most gamers are like me, they own both print and PDF copies. In fact I own far more print than I do PDF.

    So when I look at that Amazon discount, and I look at my RPG budget for the month, Amazon kicks your retail butt every time.
    It is the spirit of the game, not the letter of the rules, which is important. NEVER hold to the letter written, nor allow some barracks room lawyer to force quotations from the rule book upon you, IF it goes against the obvious intent of the game. As you hew the line with respect to conformity to major systems and uniformity of play in general, also be certain the game is mastered by you and not by your players. Within the broad parameters give in the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Volumes, YOU are creator and final arbiter. By ordering things as they should be, the game as a WHOLE first, your CAMPAIGN next, and your participants thereafter, you will be playing Advanced Dungeons and Dragons as it was meant to be. May you find as much pleasure in so doing as the rest of us do.

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    ° Ignore Bigassgeek
    Quote Originally Posted by Wulf Ratbane View Post
    Consider me shocked, shocked that a brick-and-mortar store owner shares WotC's backward paranoia about PDFs.
    He's not paranoid. He's insulted.

  • #7
    Title for Rent COPPER SUBSCRIBER
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    Yeah, what I buy in PDF doesn't have too much effect on what I buy in print (except there are certain things -- most adventures, for example -- that I tend to prefer in PDF format).

    In fact, there are PDFs I've bought that have led to my buying the print version -- PDFs (the ones I buy, anyways) are cheaper than print books, so I'll occasionally buy a PDF of a game I doubt I'll get to run or play locally, find out I really like it, and then go buy a print copy to pass around to folks in my group. (And if the whole group likes the game, there might be several print copies sold -- I think I'm the only person in my current groups that regularly buys PDFs.)

    Ideally, for major books (core rules, big supplements, etc.), I like having both paper and PDF -- PDF is easier to lug to games & use for reference when I'm writing campaign notes at a computer, while print is easier to browse through & read.

    I keep hoping OBS, e23, or someone will team up with retailers, and offer some kind of program where my FLGS can sell me a physical copy of a book plus a PDF copy (from OBS/e23/etc.) for a few dollars (e.g., $5-10) more. I don't know why they haven't figured out a way to do that yet.
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  • #8
    Problem is many Brick and mortar stores are still supporting middlemen such as Diamond Distributors and Alliance Games who are the actual folks who make a profit off gaming stores. At one time those were needed, but in this digital age I really wonder how needed they are.

  • #9
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    ° Ignore Remathilis
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    Quote Originally Posted by Treebore View Post
    I find it extremely...ironic that on one hand you have people claiming that hardly anyone uses/buys PDF's, but then on the other hand you have a RPG retailer claiming that PDF sales are sooooo huge that it destroys their business profits.

    Don't worry Titan Games, its not PDF's that are killing your retail stores, its Amazon, because I imagine most gamers are like me, they own both print and PDF copies. In fact I own far more print than I do PDF.

    So when I look at that Amazon discount, and I look at my RPG budget for the month, Amazon kicks your retail butt every time.
    And the answer to that is...

    I try to support my BnM store (Pandemonium Games in Garden City, MI) by buying minis (large selection of reaper and until recently a good selection of DDM) dice, dungeons tiles, etc. I even bought my 4e core-books there because they were offering 25% off if you played in WWD&DD. But I know they can't afford to discount there RPG lines (D&D, WW, Paizo, etc) to the level Amazon does. Even making money off Warhammer, M:TG and other CCG singles, they couldn't support a routine 25-30% undersell.

    Still, you can't argue with a guy who stocks all these companies titles to complain about lost revenue in such an economy. I couldn't really fault WotC for pulling its 4e books (I do hold them to task on their back catalog though).
    Quote Originally Posted by Arkhandus
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  • #10
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    ° Ignore Wulf Ratbane
    Quote Originally Posted by Bigassgeek View Post
    He's not paranoid. He's insulted.
    "Why would anybody buy the hardcopy version if they can get the PDF for free?" = paranoid.

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