Popular RPG books of 2011 (as per LibraryThing)

prosfilaes

Adventurer
LibraryThing.com is a website where you can catalog your books. They have a feature that shows how popular a book is over all, and how popular a book has been in a year (based copies entered that year over all books in the system) for the top 100,000 books that year. I looked at every RPG book I could find that had enough copies in the system to possibly be rated (doublechecking Pathfinder and 4E), and pulled out the books that had been ranked in 2011.

Since this is people entering their libraries, there are a lot of older books in the list. So to start, the books that were doing better popularity-wise in 2011 then overall, in alphabetical order.

Adventurer's Vault (4E)
Arcane Power (4E)
Dungeons and Dragons Core Rulebook Gift Set (4E)
Forgotten Realms Player's Guide (4E)
MM 4E
Monster Manual 2 (4E)
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Ultimate Combat
PHB 3 (4E)
PHB II (4E)
The Complete Masks of Nyarlathotep
The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game, Volume One: Your Story

Overall, there were 65 roleplaying books that were entered enough times in 2011 to reach the top 100,000. I think the cut-off point was 16 copies added, and there's many-way ties near the bottom.

In order of numbers of copies added:
PHB 3.5
PHB (2E)
MM 1E
PHB (1E)
PHB 4
DMG 3
Call Of Cthulhu (all editions combined)
DMG 2E
DMG 1E
PHB 3.0
MM 3.0
DMG 4
MM 4E
MM 3.5
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook
DMG 3.5
Tome of Magic (2E)
Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (3E)
Deities and Demigods (1E)
Monstrous Manual (2E)
PHB II (4E)
Unearthed Arcana (1E)
World of Darkness Core Rulebook
GURPS Basic Set (Third Edition)
V:tM 3rd Edition
Monster Manual II (1E)
Fiend Folio (1E)
The Complete Wizard's Handbook (2E)
MM II (3.0)
The Complete Fighter's Handbook (2E)
Vampire: The Requiem
Manual of the Planes (3.0)
Book of Nod
Mage the Awakening
The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game, Volume One: Your Story
(Rank 78404 = 20 copies?)
Deities and Demigods (3.0)
GURPS Basic Set: Characters (Fourth Edition)
GURPS Basic Set: Campaigns (Fourth Edition)
Exalted (1st Edition)
Dungeons and Dragons Core Rulebook Gift Set (4E)
Adventurer's Vault (4E)
(Rank 82876 = 19 copies?)
Werewolf: The Apocalypse (1st and 2nd edition)
Mage: The Ascension (2nd Edition)
Unearthed Arcana (3.5)
DMG II (3.5)
Darksword Adventures
Arcane Power (4E)
(Rank 88019 = 18 copies?)
Sword and Fist (3.0)
Psionics Handbook (3.0)
The Complete Thief's Handbook (2E)
PHB 3 (4E)
(Rank 93537 = 17 copies?)
Serenity Role Playing Game
Book of Vile Darkness (3.5)
V:tM 2nd Edition
The Draconomicon (3.5)
GURPS Discworld (3E)
The Complete Masks of Nyarlathotep
Forgotten Realms Player's Guide (4E)
Monster Manual 2 (4E)
(Rank 99793 = 16 copies?)
Epic Level Handbook (3.0)
Complete Divine
The Complete Psionics Handbook (2E)
The Complete Priest's Handbook (2E)
Arms & Equipment Guide (2E)
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Ultimate Combat

It's clear there's a bunch of copies of the old editions floating around, including a bunch of 2E books I'm surprised anyone was admitting to having in these days. (Some of it was good; the Complete X handbook, generally not.) Looking at these numbers has made me a lot more skeptical of Pathfinder matching 4E in sales. (There could be a bias in the set of users, but I don't know why there would be.)
 

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prosfilaes

Adventurer
Proud 2E fan here and very pleased about my collection of old second edition material :)

Even blogged about: In defense of 2E

As I said, there were some good books. But on this list is the main books, Arms and Equipment Guide (never seen it) and the Complete Books, and it was to the last that I directed my question about who was admitting to have them. They weren't particularly good in 2E and useless if you don't run 2E. (Though the fact they're on this list makes clear why WotC targeted players so much in 3E, since none of the acclaimed setting material is on the list.)
 

As I said, there were some good books. But on this list is the main books, Arms and Equipment Guide (never seen it) and the Complete Books, and it was to the last that I directed my question about who was admitting to have them. They weren't particularly good in 2E and useless if you don't run 2E. (Though the fact they're on this list makes clear why WotC targeted players so much in 3E, since none of the acclaimed setting material is on the list.)

I loved the complete books. Far better in my opinion than the complete books for 3e (kits are a much better solution than prestige classes). These were strong on flavor and had just the right amount of mechanics. Arms and equipment was also great (as was all the blue book series). Enjoyed the core books too.

I suspect this list isn't giving you a clear oberview of actual book ownership. Never heard of it myself. I doubt many have, or that many use it. Personally i own lots of the setting books and know a number of gamers who also have them.
 

delericho

Legend
It's clear there's a bunch of copies of the old editions floating around, including a bunch of 2E books I'm surprised anyone was admitting to having in these days. (Some of it was good; the Complete X handbook, generally not.)

I have loads of 2nd Edition books, including all of the Complete books and the complementary blue cover DM books. I just wish I'd picked up the green cover historical series at the same time; the three of those I have are all excellent.

There was a lot of good stuff produced for 2nd Edition. Despite its flaws, I had an absurd amount of fun while playing it - far more than any edition other than 3.5e.

Far better in my opinion than the complete books for 3e (kits are a much better solution than prestige classes).

Neither kits nor prestige classes are particularly good, IMO. Character customisation should be through selectable feats and powers, with 'themes', 'kits', 'prestige classes', 'Paragon paths' and the like merely examples of how these things can be put together.
 

I have loads of 2nd Edition books, including all of the Complete books and the complementary blue cover DM books. I just wish I'd picked up the green cover historical series at the same time; the three of those I have are all excellent.

I used to have all the green books back in the 90s. Great material and useful for any system.

Neither kits nor prestige classes are particularly good, IMO. Character customisation should be through selectable feats and powers, with 'themes', 'kits', 'prestige classes', 'Paragon paths' and the like merely examples of how these things can be put together.

This is all preference I suppose. But for me, i really dont like feats and powers. Felt kits did it well with a light mechanical touch and lots of flavor.
 

prosfilaes

Adventurer
I suspect this list isn't giving you a clear oberview of actual book ownership.

This list is not actual book ownership; it's books added this year.

In the overall numbers, in the list of AD&D 2 books, many of the Complete Books and the Player's Option books are more popular than the top setting book, Forgotten Realms Adventures. This link* shows the Complete Wizards has 176 copies in the system, where as FRA only has 87.

Never heard of it myself. I doubt many have, or that many use it.

The fact that you've never heard of it means your doubt doesn't have much weight. There's been 1.5 million accounts opened, both free and paid, 70 million books cataloged, 1.6 million reviews added, 200 people on the forums right now. As for roleplaying material, there's 979 copies of PHB 3.5 listed, and quite a few accounts with significant amounts of roleplaying material that don't have a PHB 3.5 listed. I'd love more data, but I'm more worried about systematic effects then sample-size issues.

* rpglibrary's books | LibraryThing
 


Complete Wizard and Complete Thief both have a lot of good supplementary material about running those classes in games. I kept both of those long after I chucked my other 2E material. I was always surprised the 3E Complete books never featured useful stuff like more familiars or details on thieves guilds.
 

prosfilaes

Adventurer
I am still skeptical of this. There are alot more reliable numbers on actual sales out there.

I don't recall if you've been in the discussions of who has the best sales before, but there's really not. Amazon numbers are pretty good, though they get quite a bit of abuse, and are from just one retailer. Paizo doesn't release any details about sales from their websites, none of the surveys from FLGS seem real solid, etc.

This is not necessarily numbers on actual sales, but has a huge advantage that it includes sales from all sources and nobody really has any motivation to skew the numbers.
 

I don't recall if you've been in the discussions of who has the best sales before, but there's really not. Amazon numbers are pretty good, though they get quite a bit of abuse, and are from just one retailer. Paizo doesn't release any details about sales from their websites, none of the surveys from FLGS seem real solid, etc.

This is not necessarily numbers on actual sales, but has a huge advantage that it includes sales from all sources and nobody really has any motivation to skew the numbers.

I have been and dont care to enter that discussion again. Suffice to say I disagree with your conclusion here and believe there is ample reaosn to conclude that pathfinder is outselling 4E or at the very least taking a huge chunk of the market from Wotc. This library thing strikes me as not very reliable.
 



prosfilaes

Adventurer
I feel like you opened this thread looking for an argument rather than honest feedback.

I opened this thread because I had a bunch of data and I thought I'd share it. There's a lot of questions about this data, and I'm not saying it's the end-all and be-all of anything.

But "This library thing strikes me as not very reliable" isn't useful feedback. What about it is unreliable? After you tell me "you're wrong, I'm right, and I'm not going to discuss it", I don't see why you should expect a warm response to dismissal of the data.
 

I opened this thread because I had a bunch of data and I thought I'd share it. There's a lot of questions about this data, and I'm not saying it's the end-all and be-all of anything.

But "This library thing strikes me as not very reliable" isn't useful feedback. What about it is unreliable? After you tell me "you're wrong, I'm right, and I'm not going to discuss it", I don't see why you should expect a warm response to dismissal of the data.

I am not saying you are wrong. I said I disagree with your conclusion. And I dont think there is much use rehashing the flamewars of pathfinder vs 4e sales. That is why I didn't want to discuss it. If I came off as dismissive that wasn't my intention. It is just that I am have no interest in that debate. My interest in this thread arose from the 2e mention. And on that front my reason for being skeptical is I know a lot of 2e fans and most have plenty of th setting material (but the complete books have always been popular as well). I myself have all the ravenloft books.
 

prosfilaes

Adventurer
I know a lot of 2e fans and most have plenty of th setting material (but the complete books have always been popular as well). I myself have all the ravenloft books.

I have most of the Spelljammer stuff. But I have very little of the Ravenloft stuff. Wasn't that the problem 2E had, that they had so many settings and everyone bought only their own setting?
 

I have most of the Spelljammer stuff. But I have very little of the Ravenloft stuff. Wasn't that the problem 2E had, that they had so many settings and everyone bought only their own setting?

Some people say that was the issue, but i dont think so. I still gamed in all my friends campaigns, be they dragonlance, fg, spelljammer, etc. I think this was based on a faulty assumption on how people were using campaign settings. They drove sales of core material in my opinion, and created more gms as well (everyone in my group ran game sessions). But this is just my opinion. They failed because they overprinted books, stopped listening to customers, and aggressively sued people for IP violations(remember T$R?). I really eer sensed the split people talk about with 2E.

Ravenloft is still very popular. That it survived into d20 helped, but i see people all the time who like the 2e ravenloft. Last year I ran a 2E ravenloft campaign and plan to do so again this year. People are very responsive.
 

Crothian

First Post
This is not necessarily numbers on actual sales, but has a huge advantage that it includes sales from all sources and nobody really has any motivation to skew the numbers.

We have no idea what this list means. You have some books at 20 copies which would kill a company if that was their yearly sales numbers. But this list is about ownership so we don't know if the book was bought, or had been owned for 20 years and was just put on that person's list in 2011.
 

prosfilaes

Adventurer
We have no idea what this list means.

Ach so.

You have some books at 20 copies which would kill a company if that was their yearly sales numbers.

20 copies is the number of copies added to LibraryThing in 2011. Basically the point was to make it clear (a) that, e.g., Deities and Demigods (3.0) was tied with Adventurer's Vault (4E), and (b) that the difference between Deities and Demigods (3.0) and something at the bottom of the list is a matter of four copies, and thus is probably not statistically significant.

But this list is about ownership so we don't know if the book was bought, or had been owned for 20 years and was just put on that person's list in 2011.

True. This is not sales data. But neither the 4E PHB nor the Pathfinder Core Book have been out that long, so those aren't about 20 years. And if there is an uptick versus the long-term average, like for the first list I gave, it's logical to think this is from new purchases, not long-term ownership. (I think everything on the first list was in print; the Complete Masks had a big reprint in Sept. 2010.)

Even for the old stuff on the second list, it means that enough people have kept it around and continued cataloging it.

I'll be happy to explain it, but yeah, it was data I spent some time accumulating, poked at a couple times, waited a few days, then figured I might as well post it if I spent the time accumulating it.
 

Jhaelen

First Post
There are alot more reliable numbers on actual sales out there.
If there are, I've never seen them. The irrelevance and interpretability of Amazon's data has already been mentioned.

I've never heard of LibraryThing, either, though, so I have no idea if the data's indicative of anything at all. It's still interesting to look at the kinds of books people entered.
 
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