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Torn Between Subscriptions and Supporting my FLGS


Paizo Publishing General Discussion

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Osirion

Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

The title basically says it all.

I really want to support my game store. I feel guilty that I don't, especially since it is providing us a place to organize and play our society games.

I remember discussions off and on over the last couple years about investigating ways to provide subscriptions through retailers. Has any progress been made on this front?

It would be worth it to me to pay a little more to get a pdf on cd with each item.

The cost is not what keeps me torn between the two options though. I would readily pay full retail for the books.

It's the pdfs. I use the pdfs so much. I extract maps and images to scale and print battle mats, handouts, and images to show my players in both my home game and my society games. I use them when I travel, which I do often enough that not having them would be a burden.

What do I do? Please tell me we are getting near to having some kind of alternative that includes local game stores in the process and profits.

It is hard to actually quantify the value of local game stores when it comes to supporting and encouraging the health and growth of our hobby. I very well might have gotten four new players into PF just this evening because of the audience my game store gives me access to.

I really hope that our only options don't continue to only be two that come with their own significant disadvantages.

Tam

Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I know some company and I they are on the tip of my tongue. But I forget their name is experimenting with giving their PDF's away for free to those that buy their books in the store. I am not sure how they are going to do it, but I imagine if they pull it off other companies will check into it.

Osirion

Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
Dark_Mistress wrote:
I know some company and I they are on the tip of my tongue. But I forget their name is experimenting with giving their PDF's away for free to those that buy their books in the store. I am not sure how they are going to do it, but I imagine if they pull it off other companies will check into it.

I really hope this is the case. I really want Pathfinder to continue to grow. It was neck and neck with 4E this year for sales, great. Let's take a lead this year. One way to do that would be to get the game store owners behind it. It is amazing how much influence they have over what products are sold in their store.

How much would a game store owner love Paizo if 20, 30, or 50 subscribing Pathfinder customers could now get their products through him. My game store got in 5 copies of the Bestiary II today. I want to live in a world where it was 35.

Tam


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules Subscriber

If cost really isn't the issue to you, do what I do. I subscribe to the APs and modules but that's it. Core books and additional content I buy the PDFs as and when I want stuff, then I buy books from the FLGS. I've bought four copies of the Core book, two Bestiaries, and a few other supporting material. I'm doing the same with Psionics Unleashed.

It's the best compromise I've been able to come up with. Yes, I end up paying more, but to me it's worth it to diversify the profits.

Andoran

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I agree that this is a big issue. The stores in our area go out of their way to support PFS and Pathfinder in general and in return, they cannot compete with the deals that Paizo gives out directly. A free PDF with a discount makes it difficult. As print continues to fade away in favor of electronic copies (See Kindle and other e-readers), unless the stores can supply an electronic version, it will just keep getting worse.

My solution - I purchase all of my maps and extra gaming supplies from my local store. I also purchase all of my extra books and gaming gifts from them, along with mini's, paints, and accesories. I like the PDF's too so I subscribe to get those from Paizo.

I would love to see some PDF options for the shops!

Taldor

Oh, to even have FLGS...

Stupud England :(


Get your subscription, then get addicted to either wargaming or a CCG...that's where a lot of the game stores make bank.


I tend to get the fluff books (companion et al) from Paizo and all else from my FLGS. This way I support both, but I also hate running games from a PDF.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules Subscriber
Grokken wrote:
I tend to get the fluff books (companion et al) from Paizo and all else from my FLGS. This way I support both, but I also hate running games from a PDF.

Just to expand on this a moment, I don't run games from PDFs either but I find great value in having one. It's immensely useful to copy & paste pictures or handouts and print those for players. Maps too. Then there's statblocks. If I want to take an NPC and add a level or two of some PC class, I can just copy & paste the statblock, then add transforms. Yes, I could re-type everything. Yes, I could use my flatbed scanner. But the PDF edition is just a really handy resource.

Same thing goes for core rulebooks. To copy & paste class features onto a character sheet is darned handy. Odd spells from the APG? Copy and paste them onto your sorcerer's sheet. Do enough of that and suddenly you almost never need to actually hit the books at the table. Hard-to-remember feats, abilities, spells, and magic items... all on the character sheet. Note: I encourage my players to do this as well when I DM, often adding these things myself when I review their character sheets.

Just some input in case you've never thought of these uses for the PDFs.


Since what you want is the .pdfs -- cancel your maps subscription since you don't get anything digital with that, and then order those through your FLGS instead. Same goes for anything you don't use .pdfs for, or would be willing to buy the .pdfs separately.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

My FLGS is also my comic store, so Paizo products are part of my "pull" file; I basically told them to give me one of everything put out for Pathfinder. Although I haven't made extensive use of .pdfs before, this year I plan to use them to greater effect. So I will now go back to the Paizo website and get the files for everything I own in hard cover.

Having said that, if Paizo included a .pdf cd with every book, or even a confirmation code in each book that I could enter in the Paizo store to get my .pdf, I would be willing to pay a bit more for that.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Northron wrote:

My FLGS is also my comic store, so Paizo products are part of my "pull" file; I basically told them to give me one of everything put out for Pathfinder. Although I haven't made extensive use of .pdfs before, this year I plan to use them to greater effect. So I will now go back to the Paizo website and get the files for everything I own in hard cover.

Having said that, if Paizo included a .pdf cd with every book, or even a confirmation code in each book that I could enter in the Paizo store to get my .pdf, I would be willing to pay a bit more for that.

Don't think the confirmation code in the book would work too well. What would there be to stop someone from going through a book and copying down the codes and redeaming them.

I wonder how much additional cost a CD would add to the book.
Perhaps they could put the code on the CD and when you load it into the PC it goes to the Paizo web site to download and personalize the PDF thus invalidating the code for anyone else. That way if you look at the back of the book and the CD is gone then you have a pretty good idea that the code has been used. Not sure if this would work or not.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Dark_Mistress wrote:
I know some company and I they are on the tip of my tongue. But I forget their name is experimenting with giving their PDF's away for free to those that buy their books in the store. I am not sure how they are going to do it, but I imagine if they pull it off other companies will check into it.

The Bits and Mortar Coalition:

Bits and Mortar Coalition.

There's a bunch of participants including ones like Cubicle 7, Evil Hat, and Engine Publishing (authors of the fantastic and supremely recommended Eureka 501 Adventure Plots)


StanC wrote:

Don't think the confirmation code in the book would work too well. What would there be to stop someone from going through a book and copying down the codes and redeaming them.

Pretty much the same thing that keeps people from shoplifting vinyl records in 2011: if you really want to be dishonest, there are easier ways to do it.*

Beyond that, there are any number of technical solutions to the problem; it's just a matter of what strikes a wise balance between convienience for the consumer and cost to implement.

*Not an endorsement of dishonesty.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
VagrantWhisper wrote:
Dark_Mistress wrote:
I know some company and I they are on the tip of my tongue. But I forget their name is experimenting with giving their PDF's away for free to those that buy their books in the store. I am not sure how they are going to do it, but I imagine if they pull it off other companies will check into it.

The Bits and Mortar Coalition:

Bits and Mortar Coalition.

There's a bunch of participants including ones like Cubicle 7, Evil Hat, and Engine Publishing (authors of the fantastic and supremely recommended Eureka 501 Adventure Plots)

Yeah Cubicle 7 was the one I was thinking of.


Seems a simple proposition: subscribe to Paizo's stuff through the online store, support your FLGS by buying snacks, miniatures, dice, etc.

Maybe look into one of those CCG's if it's your bent. I play L5R and it's a fine game, and not terribly painful on the wallet(as CCG's go) as my cards are good for at least 2 years on the tournament scene and power rares top out at $50 on the secondary market (and that's for super rare promo staples. Even chase rares only top at $35).

This way every 3-4 months or so I can drop some cash on the new set and support my FLGS.

Andoran

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

I had to face this very same problem, too. I even tried to go all FLGS, but the delay in getting my books (game store distributors are not the most reliable things in the world sometimes) and the lack of PDFs really hurt.

What I ended up doing is subscribing to all the books here, but I buy all my miniatures, maps, cards, dice, etc from the store. Those items usually make shipping costs go up on your subscriptions, anyway, and delay the shipments.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I subscribe to the RPG and the AP's via Paizo. The discount and PDF's are simply too valuable to me.

I buy map packs, cards and the occasional companion book from my LGS. I also run a monthly Pathfinder Game there and while I dont buy Paizo books there my players DO. In fact after seeing my copy of the APG on the day of one of our games, two of my players bought 2 copies from the store. One of whom cancelled their Amazon order to do so. My players buy mini's and dice from the store usually on the day of our games.

So while I dont buy I like to think that the fact that my players are prone to impulse buys, brings some business to the store.

Taldor

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

I ran into this programming a website for another company a few years ago.

They sold a product through gift stores, local Hallmark stores and the like. They wanted to move purchases online, but they didn't want to hurt their relationships with their retail stores by "stealing" business from them.

What they came up with was every buyer was forced to choose a "home store" from their list of brick and mortar stores. The customers' online purchases were credited to the associated brick and mortar store.

Paizo's store already exists as a separate entity, and I'm sure it doesn't make sense for them to force all existing companies to "pick a store". As they work through distributors instead of directly with retail stores as the company in my case did, this makes even less sense. But maybe this other company's practice can suggest a course of action for Paizo to take, if they wish to.

Edit: As for our game we play at a FLGS, I don't buy my AP or Core books from them (as I also want the pdf files), but I make sure to always buy my snacks / soda from them if such are available, make all the gaming purchases I can from them instead of other stores in the area. And yes, I know some of the other players do buy their products from the store. I also make sure we don't leave a mess for them to clean up, we are always polite to customers that come in to watch, and we are always aware that part of our duty is to help the store increase it's loyal customer base - or at least not turn customers off from the store with bad / rude behavior.

A "Thank you!" seems to be well appreciated too!


Had I the option back in the day, I would have definitely gone with subscription.

The "FLGS" that I have frequented for years used to have this guy who stank so bad that it was a DC 20 FORT Save to enter and another to stay for more than five minutes. One day, I lost it while perusing new 3.5 material because the stench was in rare form and blended with steaming Chinese food. Overwhelmed by the unearthly nastiness, I ~LITERALY~ vomited in my mouth (which only made things worse).

The guy is gone (thankfully) and his smell is gone too, but on certain days when I return to the store and an event is going on, the dismal funk of poor hygiene and cheap take-out cause the bile in my gut to churn fiercely in protest.

Thank goodness for PDFs!


I'm facing the same sort of thing - in theory, but not for much longer, I am guessing. And really only briefly...to explain:

I've played RPGs since the early 1980s, but never at the FLGS. I played at home, or at my friend's home, or on campus at the student center, etc. Not at a shop. That is, until this year when I am set to be in a PF game at my local shop, starting in a couple weeks. OK, so I thought I should support the shop by buying a book, dice, and a miniature. I also bought some board games and a card game as gifts. I know I got soaked on most of these purchases. Now I don't feel I need to pay "rent" anymore, no matter how long I play, which may be not very long, as the GM is moving away. And I'm a little grumpy, besides.

OK, rant aside, I guess the value of the LGS is a) being able to peruse the books before buying (if they are not wrapped), and b) a game site, in the case where none of the players can/is willing to offer his or her home. Maybe the game site reason is a lot more common for other folks?

EDIT: Oh, and c) a way to network with local gamers. Less important now than before, with social networking and sites like nearbygamers.com.

Andoran

My favorite FLGS in Houston closed down recently, and the biggest reason (according to the owner) was on-line sales. He couldn't compete with Amazon and other on line retailers.

It's sad, too, since he was the first FLGS owner to put Pathfinder stuff in a more prominent position, display-wise, than 4e stuff, from the very beginning, not after Pathfinder gained traction with the gaming community.


Tambryn wrote:

The title basically says it all.

I really want to support my game store. I feel guilty that I don't, especially since it is providing us a place to organize and play our society games.

I remember discussions off and on over the last couple years about investigating ways to provide subscriptions through retailers. Has any progress been made on this front?

It would be worth it to me to pay a little more to get a pdf on cd with each item.

The cost is not what keeps me torn between the two options though. I would readily pay full retail for the books.

It's the pdfs. I use the pdfs so much. I extract maps and images to scale and print battle mats, handouts, and images to show my players in both my home game and my society games. I use them when I travel, which I do often enough that not having them would be a burden.

What do I do? Please tell me we are getting near to having some kind of alternative that includes local game stores in the process and profits.

It is hard to actually quantify the value of local game stores when it comes to supporting and encouraging the health and growth of our hobby. I very well might have gotten four new players into PF just this evening because of the audience my game store gives me access to.

I really hope that our only options don't continue to only be two that come with their own significant disadvantages.

Tam

For all intensive purposes, I support the FLGS's. The folks that want a brick and mortar stores to fold aren't Paizo or any other gaming company out here. Actually I don't know of ANYONE who wants to see a store in America close. It hurts the local economy too much when a den of gamers closes its doors.

I buy ribs from the local rib joint, or go to the local Lindy's in Washington (a half-block from the Game Room) to grab provisions for a few hours entertainment.

The pdf model is great. Go Rite Publishing and others that are offering their products in a easy to ship format. I love the creativity of it, as long as it is only available as pdf. It doesn't do any harm to the local groups to buy stuff from the awesome companies that are up and coming like those 'lil champs.

But around the tables here, we try to get a book to be logistically available to the shelves here because it really does impact the local environment. I like being centrally located to folks in the area and most gamers around my adopted hometown are wanting to have print games in the shop to support the pen and paper community.

With that said, the most money in these places is done with large releases like the Bestiary 2 or some great softcovers. If that isn't the big release for the week, it is a guaranteed week the FedEx box will have miniatures for some wargame. And that is almost as nice.

Taldor

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber
houstonderek wrote:

My favorite FLGS in Houston closed down recently, and the biggest reason (according to the owner) was on-line sales. He couldn't compete with Amazon and other on line retailers.

It's sad, too, since he was the first FLGS owner to put Pathfinder stuff in a more prominent position, display-wise, than 4e stuff, from the very beginning, not after Pathfinder gained traction with the gaming community.

what store was that?

Andoran

Jess Door wrote:
houstonderek wrote:

My favorite FLGS in Houston closed down recently, and the biggest reason (according to the owner) was on-line sales. He couldn't compete with Amazon and other on line retailers.

It's sad, too, since he was the first FLGS owner to put Pathfinder stuff in a more prominent position, display-wise, than 4e stuff, from the very beginning, not after Pathfinder gained traction with the gaming community.

what store was that?

Midnight Comics and Games. I drove all the way to the west side to see if I could unload a few books and they were gone.

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm just jealous other folks are lucky enough to have an FLGS. Arkansas is the pits...


Perhaps one of the issues at hand is that Paizo essentially is a game store. In this case our FIGS becomes the publisher as well as the end retailer. So I would imagine that the idea of giving some profit sharing model to competitors becomes a bit of a muddy issue. However, I personally don't subscribe to the Pathfinder lines because I prefer to purchase items from my FLGS since Paizo makes money on that transaction anyway. I then pay full price for my pdf's like a happy little sucker and everyone gets to hang me upside down and beat me like a cash pinata.


I remember when I first bought the Core Rules at GenCon, I was offered a pdf copy for like $5 extra or so. Now, this was a couple years back, but I don't see why they couldn't set something similar up for the retailers.

I would like to see the pdfs sold at retailers too, to be honest. I envision something similar to what Microsoft (and I'm not a fan of MS on the whole, but the model works) does with Xbox Live subscription and points cards. For those that don't know, they are just cards that have a scratch-off film with a redemption code beneath it.

Say, Paizo sells these "pdf cards" to retailers at a couple bucks less than their store price for the pdf; Paizo still makes a tidy profit on pdfs, because they cost almost nil to maintain after initial production, but retailers then have the option to sell a card with any book purchase at a discount. The retailers may eat a $5 loss or so on discounting the pdf, but that is within the profit margin of all of the large books easily. Paizo still makes a profit, while the retailers do to. Maybe the retailers make a little less than if they sold it all at full price, but that is still a lot more than the big fat bagel they will wind up making a lot of the time when someone buys direct due to discount or pdf-loving.

I also generally agree with the previous poster that pointed out that there are far easier ways to grift a pdf than to copy down and steal it from a code within a book. My suggestion would generally prevent that behavior, but I also don't think it is terribly necessary. Anyone computer savvy enough to seriously value the pdfs is probably capable of internet piracy, though hopefully most lovers of our game are unwilling to do so. I like the model I suggest mostly because it would give a great way to incorporate FLGS into Paizo's excellent pdf model.

Qadira

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I subscribe to the things I want a PDF for, the rest I buy from my FLGS. I also buy all my accessories from my FLGS, like dice, mini's, other fantasy/sci-fi novels, etc. I also buy all my comics and board games from my FLGS. They carry a very large variety of board games, ones that even my non-gaming wife loves to play. Recently I picked up Settlers of Catan and the family loves it. I have already placed an order for the expansion for 5-6 players. I mostly play PFS so all those purchases are pdf only, but I have picked up the module "The Godsmouth Heresy" as a pdf from Paizo, but will buy the hard copy from my FLGS. And probably do the same for future module purchases.

I think you have to pick and choose what works best for you. For me, since my FLGS is over an hours drive away and I don't get to it more often then once every two or three months, I purchase my core stuff through subscription. The rest I'll pick up as needed from my FLGS. Of course it doesn't hurt that my FLGS gives a 20% discount on all RPG purchases. Including accessories. (Which, sorry Paizo, is better than the AP discount, and I don't have to pay shipping.) They are also the local used book store, hobby store and sell exotic fish, so they get business from more than just gamers. But none of those customers get the 20% discount. :-p

I do wish there was some way that you could at least get a discount, say 75% or 50% off the pdf when you purchase a hard copy from your FLGS. I'm not in sales or computer software, so I don't know how to make this work. But it would definitely get me to purchase more of the non-core products.

Osirion

Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
archmagi1 wrote:
I'm just jealous other folks are lucky enough to have an FLGS. Arkansas is the pits...

Where are you in Arkansas? I am actually talking about a game store in the Little Rock area. I am running near weekly PFS games there.

Tam

Osirion

Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
Shieldknight wrote:

I subscribe to the things I want a PDF for, the rest I buy from my FLGS. I also buy all my accessories from my FLGS, like dice, mini's, other fantasy/sci-fi novels, etc. I also buy all my comics and board games from my FLGS. They carry a very large variety of board games, ones that even my non-gaming wife loves to play. Recently I picked up Settlers of Catan and the family loves it. I have already placed an order for the expansion for 5-6 players. I mostly play PFS so all those purchases are pdf only, but I have picked up the module "The Godsmouth Heresy" as a pdf from Paizo, but will buy the hard copy from my FLGS. And probably do the same for future module purchases.

I think you have to pick and choose what works best for you. For me, since my FLGS is over an hours drive away and I don't get to it more often then once every two or three months, I purchase my core stuff through subscription. The rest I'll pick up as needed from my FLGS. Of course it doesn't hurt that my FLGS gives a 20% discount on all RPG purchases. Including accessories. (Which, sorry Paizo, is better than the AP discount, and I don't have to pay shipping.) They are also the local used book store, hobby store and sell exotic fish, so they get business from more than just gamers. But none of those customers get the 20% discount. :-p

I do wish there was some way that you could at least get a discount, say 75% or 50% off the pdf when you purchase a hard copy from your FLGS. I'm not in sales or computer software, so I don't know how to make this work. But it would definitely get me to purchase more of the non-core products.

Physical copies could have a download coupon code in them that gave you a discount when purchasing the PDF from Paizo.com. This would also guarantee that all downloads continue to be watermarked. Or maybe the download coupon is separate and the store owner/operator gives it out with the book. This would ensure that unscrupulous people didn't just write the codes down for a free discount.

This is an outstanding idea. I love it.

Tambryn


I have been wondering if there is a business model change that needs to happen with FLGSs. The convenience of buying stuffs online is really hard to beat, but what the online retailers don't have is a physical location to meet people and play games.

Perhaps FLGSs should look at shifting to a gym membership style, where people who subscribe to them get to use nifty toys, flipmats, projector screens, interlocking models with awesome minis, sound systems, etc aaaaaand be able to purchase books in the merchandise area. It would certainly take some organizing, but they could then have a somewhat stead flow in income in addition to brick and mortar book sales.

Andoran

Anburaid wrote:


Perhaps FLGSs should look at shifting to a gym membership style, where people who subscribe to them get to use nifty toys, flipmats, projector screens, interlocking models with awesome minis, sound systems, etc aaaaaand be able to purchase books in the merchandise area. It would certainly take some organizing, but they could then have a somewhat stead flow in income in addition to brick and mortar book sales.

My lgs does something along those lines. You can turn in $100 worth of receipts for $5 in store credit. If you do this 10 times (he keeps track, no time limit) then you get a Preferred Customer card (15% off pretty well everything in the store) for a year. Being preferred has other benefits, too. You can reserve a gaming room generally unavailable to those who arent PCs. They have some board games that PCs can rent (for like $5), and several shelves of terrain for Warhammer type stuff that you can use. Holidays bonuses and the like as well.

While I appreciate that kind of service very much (been one 3xs myself, working on the 4th), he has made it clear that since Paizo doesnt allow him to sell/offer pdfs with the purchase of the physical book, then players wont be allowed to being in JUST a pdf for Society play. If you have a book and a pdf, thats fine, but it cuts into his business, blah blah blah.

Kinda dickish of him, imo, but whatcha gonna do when its the only place in the area?


Anburaid wrote:

I have been wondering if there is a business model change that needs to happen with FLGSs. The convenience of buying stuffs online is really hard to beat, but what the online retailers don't have is a physical location to meet people and play games.

Perhaps FLGSs should look at shifting to a gym membership style, where people who subscribe to them get to use nifty toys, flipmats, projector screens, interlocking models with awesome minis, sound systems, etc aaaaaand be able to purchase books in the merchandise area. It would certainly take some organizing, but they could then have a somewhat stead flow in income in addition to brick and mortar book sales.

The problem is people that do not have time to come every weekend with college or other things they are busy with would stop going there if they were not members and it stops cheap people from going there. I do not like subscriptions I like buying books. Every dollar I spend on a subscription is a dollar I do not spend on books. How many books will that cost me over 2 years? Yes I know I am cheap.

My LGS does not carry that many pathfinder books but I get discounts for ordering things in the store that they do not carry like 10 percent and I can choose when to get books.

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Tambryn wrote:
archmagi1 wrote:
I'm just jealous other folks are lucky enough to have an FLGS. Arkansas is the pits...

Where are you in Arkansas? I am actually talking about a game store in the Little Rock area. I am running near weekly PFS games there.

Tam

Conway. Its a good hour for me to get all the way over to Imagine (which I figure is where you're talking about), though I haven't tried to get there via 107 and Gravel Ridge. You'd think in a town our size, though there would be one.


doctor_wu wrote:
Anburaid wrote:

I have been wondering if there is a business model change that needs to happen with FLGSs. The convenience of buying stuffs online is really hard to beat, but what the online retailers don't have is a physical location to meet people and play games.

Perhaps FLGSs should look at shifting to a gym membership style, where people who subscribe to them get to use nifty toys, flipmats, projector screens, interlocking models with awesome minis, sound systems, etc aaaaaand be able to purchase books in the merchandise area. It would certainly take some organizing, but they could then have a somewhat stead flow in income in addition to brick and mortar book sales.

The problem is people that do not have time to come every weekend with college or other things they are busy with would stop going there if they were not members and it stops cheap people from going there. I do not like subscriptions I like buying books. Every dollar I spend on a subscription is a dollar I do not spend on books. How many books will that cost me over 2 years? Yes I know I am cheap.

My LGS does not carry that many pathfinder books but I get discounts for ordering things in the store that they do not carry like 10 percent and I can choose when to get books.

Well, I think the key is to charge for facilitating play, not for play in of itself. People can and have been organizing games for decades in their homes, etc. What the FLGS can offer is a better, more impressive game experience, comfortable accomidations, nifty toys, easy access to munchies, etc. Once you get people playing at your store, you can start to offer ways to make their game better. Think of it like service industry rather than strict retail. It works on the same principles that govern having coffee shops linked to book stores. Also, not being a dink to customers helps also. Putting up road blocks to play is not cool.

Osirion

Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
archmagi1 wrote:
Tambryn wrote:
archmagi1 wrote:
I'm just jealous other folks are lucky enough to have an FLGS. Arkansas is the pits...

Where are you in Arkansas? I am actually talking about a game store in the Little Rock area. I am running near weekly PFS games there.

Tam

Conway. Its a good hour for me to get all the way over to Imagine (which I figure is where you're talking about), though I haven't tried to get there via 107 and Gravel Ridge. You'd think in a town our size, though there would be one.

That's weird, I have actually heard really good things about Conway's gaming community. I was just told the other day that Conway had a game store. I will ask around and get back to you.

Tam

Osirion

Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

Well, I have come to a conclusion.

I used to game fine without PDFs. I can again.

The PDFs that I use the most are PFS Scenarios. They are not even available anywhere but online, so no big deal.

Pathfinder would probably survive the death of the local game store, but it and all our local game communities would suffer. Of that I am certain.

Supporting my FLGS seems the most responsible move if I want to see my hobby continue to thrive and grow.

Now I am off to make the customer service post I hoped I would never have to.

Does this mean I won't get next year's Christmas card? I hope not.

Tam

Grand Lodge

I have moved to using PDFs almost exclusively. ANd this has become an issue for me as well. I want to support my FLGS, but I prefer the PDFs over dead tree versions.

I buy very little in the way of extras though, such as maps, dice and minis. When I do I always buy them at the FLGS.

Personally I think I would like to see a system for PDF subscriptions but I think I would like it available THROUGH the FLGS. For example, I would want to subscribe to Core Rules, the Adventure Paths and Modules. To do so I set up an account with my FLGS and the FLGS gets a special discount and acts as middle man with Paizo. The FLGS emails me my PDF when it is available. This way the FLGS makes some cash on the transaction, Paizo still benefits, and I get the PDFs I want.

The way I see it, the PDF subscription service would only be available to brick and mortar stores. The watermarks include the store name and the customer name. All Paizo has to do is make them available to the store and let the store do the rest.

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Tambryn wrote:

That's weird, I have actually heard really good things about Conway's gaming community. I was just told the other day that Conway had a game store. I will ask around and get back to you.

Tam

Well there is Conway Gaming Center, but their website doesn't seem to be promoting much pen and paper gaming at all (they're primarily a LAN site, though they do have a d20 on their logo, right next to the xbox), and they're an 'it costs money to be inside the building' location, so dropping by and hangout is something I have ventured to do yet.

Osirion

Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
archmagi1 wrote:
Tambryn wrote:

That's weird, I have actually heard really good things about Conway's gaming community. I was just told the other day that Conway had a game store. I will ask around and get back to you.

Tam

Well there is Conway Gaming Center, but their website doesn't seem to be promoting much pen and paper gaming at all (they're primarily a LAN site, though they do have a d20 on their logo, right next to the xbox), and they're an 'it costs money to be inside the building' location, so dropping by and hangout is something I have ventured to do yet.

That's probably it. I have also heard that they move a lot of warhammer stuff. Where there is warhammer stuff rpgs are sure to be lurking nearby.

Tam

Taldor

My FLGS has been around for 25 years. They have gone through several iterations of D&D, dozens (perhaps hundreds) of failed CCGs and the collectible miniatures fad.

On top of that, they offer friendly, personal service, free gaming space and a sense of community for the local gamers. They help out the grognard, board gamer, and Magic player alike. For all these reasons, I will buy all my products from them rather than the manufacturer.

10 years from now, Paizo might not be around, by The Griffon in downtown Sotuh Bend, IN most likely will be.

Qadira

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Krome wrote:

Personally I think I would like to see a system for PDF subscriptions but I think I would like it available THROUGH the FLGS. For example, I would want to subscribe to Core Rules, the Adventure Paths and Modules. To do so I set up an account with my FLGS and the FLGS gets a special discount and acts as middle man with Paizo. The FLGS emails me my PDF when it is available. This way the FLGS makes some cash on the transaction, Paizo still benefits, and I get the PDFs I want.

The way I see it, the PDF subscription service would only be available to brick and mortar stores. The watermarks include the store name and the customer name. All Paizo has to do is make them available to the store and let the store do the rest.

Personally, I really think would be the best way to run it. It would work for Paizo almost 100% like their normal subscription method, except that both the product and PDF email would be shipped to the store owner. When the Store owner receives the email he can distribute the email to his own "subscribers."

All Paizo would need to do is create an interface in the website here for a store owner to log in and "manage" his subscriptions. I.E. he could log into his store (similar to logging into the Pathfinder society or account area or something like that) and manage how many of each subscriptions he's going to get. Heck, he could even set it to ship once per month, with AP, by product, etc. just like a normal subscription.

Since the PDF code is only active once the email is sent out by Paizo (and hence, paid for) there's no chance that random codes will "slip away." Also since the watermark would have both the person's name and the store's name Paizo would know specifically who to go to if illegal downloading becomes a problem.

This actually sounds like a wonderful idea, and might even kick start more subscriptions from people who are wavering and would rather get it through their FLGS (and then don't buy every product from the line).


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Alizor wrote:
Personally, I really think would be the best way to run it. It would work for Paizo almost 100% like their normal subscription method, except that both the product and PDF email would be shipped to the store owner. When the Store owner receives the email he can distribute the email to his own "subscribers."

Then you bypass the distributors, who probably won't like that.

Grand Lodge

Brian E. Harris wrote:
Alizor wrote:
Personally, I really think would be the best way to run it. It would work for Paizo almost 100% like their normal subscription method, except that both the product and PDF email would be shipped to the store owner. When the Store owner receives the email he can distribute the email to his own "subscribers."
Then you bypass the distributors, who probably won't like that.

Actually you don't bypass the distributors at all. This is for PDF only products, which the distributors do not carry anyway. For the printed versions the distributor is already carrying it.

So in essence the printed copies go through regular channels. For PDFs there is an added mechanic to distribute via stores. This would be an all new approach, and one that does not affect the printed distribution chain at all.

Now, I would expect there to be some kind of agreement between the stores and Paizo that the stores NOT buy one copy and give away multiple copies to customers or even print copies and sell them. THAT is the only hiccup I can see in the system.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

29 people marked this as a favorite.

Why don't we sell PDFs through game stores?

Here's the real problem: the economics of subscriptions through retail just don't make sense, for us or for them.

Before I explain that, let me go through some other issues.

Every PDF that we distribute goes through our watermarker; that's not negotiable. First, security of our electronic products is very important to us, and second, it allows us to ensure that people who buy things from us will be able to redownload them at their leisure if they need to—even if their FLGS has gone out of business. It also allows us to notify purchasers if those files are ever updated, or of any other perks that might come with buying a particular PDF. We will not distribute PDFs via unsecured media (like CD-ROMs), or through middlemen, because they can't provide the same level of security *or* service.

What this means is that any potential retail sale of one of our PDFs would have to go through our system. The customer would need to have an account with us, and we'd communicate directly with them when downloads became available. (That right there will be a problem for some retailers—some view us as their competition, and wouldn't dream of sending their customers to our site, for any reason, ever.) But this actually solves a lot of problems—among other things, it helps ensure that subscriptions have *actual* subscribers (as opposed to the retailers giving out PDFs whether there's a subscription or not). And it allows us to provide "Subscriber" tags for those customers on our messageboards.

The retailer would also have to have an account with us, and we'd have to verify that they're a real retailer. We'd need to design a new a system for letting them purchase subscriptions and tie them to people who may or may not already exist in our system (which also means we have to deal with potential customer privacy issues). None of these are simple things—each is way more complicated than most of you would ever suspect... but for the purposes of continuing this discussion, let's say it's all handled.

Ok, so now it comes time to ship a new subscription product. In some order, the following things have to happen: the product is paid for by the customer; the product is picked up from the retailer by the customer; the PDF is made available to the customer. There are a couple of ways to handle this, but I suspect that most retail subscribers would want to have access to the PDF at pretty much the same time as paizo.com subscribers, and that generally happens about two weeks before the retailer even has the book. That means that the first of those actions to happen would be issuing the PDF.

But wait! What if the customer never buys the book? We've already given him a free PDF. Worse yet, what if he hasn't bought a book in months, and the retailer hasn't told us? Maybe we've given him *lots* of free PDFs. Well, the way to prevent this is to ensure that payment is collected before the PDF is issued. And, due to the previously mentioned timing issue, that means that Paizo has to collect the payment—otherwise, you're waiting until someone notifies you that you need to pay the retailer, and then you have to pay, and then we have to find out that you paid, and then we can give you the PDF. (And you'll still have to visit the retailer in couple of weeks when your book shows up.) So, fine—payment will be through Paizo.

But that means that we need to pay the retailer some portion of the amount we collected. (We also have to verify that the retailer actually ordered at least one copy of the book for every subscription he has sold, which is a whole other complicated issue that we'll also assume is handled for the purposes of this discussion.) So, let's look at what a retailer typically expects, based on a normal Pathfinder Adventure Path volume (because that's the line that would probably do best for retail subscriptions).

A given AP volume has a cover price of $19.99; let's call it an even $20 for simple math. We sell to distribution at 60% off cover price, or $8. Retailers normally buy from their distributor at about 50% off cover price, so they generally pay the distributor $10, and make $10 when they sell that copy. To sum up: for a normal retail sale of an AP volume, Paizo gets $8, the distributor gets $2, and the store gets $10.

Now, paizo.com subscribers pay $13.99 (let's call it $14) for an AP volume. How shall we split that up? Remember that we make $8 on a normal retail sale, and the retailer makes $10.

If we let the retailer take the cut he's used to, that leaves us $4—half of what we would normally make for a retail sale, and that doesn't even factor in the credit card processing fee that was added to the equation. We're probably not even covering our cost-of-goods with the remaining $3-and-change.

If we instead take the $8 we normally make on retail sales—which is still $4 less than we make on a regular subscription sale—that only leaves $4 for the retailer, and that might not cover *his* expenses. And even it it does, how many retailers would think taking $4 instead of $10 is a good tradeoff?

(The answer is the ones who believe that if they don't, you'll buy from us instead, so they're really making $4 instead of $0—but those retailers probably are going to feel a bit held hostage, and so they may not be especially happy to see you every month, and they also won't be terribly happy about "having to" participate with us.)

But even if that split *were* enough to entice a few retailers into participating, does it make sense for us to do it? We've said before that subscriptions are our bread-and-butter—they ensure that month-to-month, worst case, we're still covering our operating expenses. And they do that *because* they make us a higher profit margin per sale than the same product through retailers. Basically, everybody who cancels their subscription to buy at retail reduces that margin, and we can afford for that to happen a little bit—but if it were to happen a lot, or worse yet, be *encouraged* through a retailer subscription plan, we'd be losing our safety net.

But even if we could work out the economics, the problems don't even end there.

What if the retailer for whatever reason can't provide the level of service that you should be getting? What if he doesn't even have a book for you? You paid us, so we're ultimately responsible for that—yet we have no control over it.

And this isn't even a worst-case scenario, because there's an entire part of the process I haven't even touched on yet, and it lies completely out of our control: delivery of the printed product. You've got your PDF, and a couple of weeks later, the retailer gets your copy of the book. Now, he has to let you know the book is in. (We don't have access to their inventories or their shipment manifests, so we can't tell you.) Some retailers may be organized enough to handle that flawlessly, every time. Others will not be, and it *will* generate calls to our customer service line that we can't really help with much—at least not until we're pretty sure that the retailer for whatever reason can't or won't help you, and then we'll have to solve your problem at our cost, and only after you've endured more frustration than any of us would like. By this point, everybody has lost.

And what if a particular retailer has a *lot* of problems, and it becomes clear that he just can't *handle* subscriptions, and we have to cut him off? Then we have to go to his subscribers and tell them that if they want to keep their subs, they'll need to do it completely with us, and pay for shipping, and so on... and that won't be a fun day for anyone. (Especially if said retailer then starts telling people how Paizo stole his customers.)

The bottom line is that the notion of supporting the local retailer is great, but I just don't think retail subscriptions are the way to do it—I think that there's no winning scenario that makes sense to everyone there. We want our interactions with retailers to involve higher rewards and less risk of problems—things that will be more clearly "win-wins." Things like Pathfinder Society, and Free RPG Day promotions, and other retailer-oriented projects in the works that we're not talking about just yet. That's where we need to focus our efforts for now.

Andoran

17 people marked this as a favorite.

The thing I like about Paizo? dude took that much time out of his day to explain their reason, and didn't just say "because we said so" like 99% of any kind of company would do.

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