PDF sales effect on gaming store owners


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Go to "Maybe It's Just Me".

Relevant section from that post:

"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?"


I think that there has been a pretty thoroughly argued case made for the availability of electronic media actually boosting sales of paper books, not causing a net loss. Didn't Neil Gaiman's wrangling with his publisher make all that pretty widely discussed in the industry? It seems like Paizo has taken an approach somewhat along these lines with various freebies, and I don't see how a limited sale is going to significantly hurt anybody. My move from Wizards to Paizo has actually been a part of sending me back to the LGS, after having avoided it for at least a decade.


Its not PDF sales killing retail stores like Titan Games, its Amazon. Always has been.

Its simple, I walk into a retail store, that I have to go out of my way to go to in the first place, I have to pay full retail and taxes.

Here I am, sitting at home on my computer, I can go to Amazon, find the titles I want, and usually get a nice discount, free shipping, and no taxes.

Simply put Titan Games, its Amazon that is kicking your butt, always has been and always will be. Amazon isn't going away, and I am not going to pay full retail when I don't have to, no matter how guilty you try to make me feel.

Simply put, Amazon is far more convenient and allows my RPG budget to buy me 1/3 more products, you aren't and don't. So you lose.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

While I'm obviously not any position to respond, I feel like this guy is missing the point. The industry's pdf sale is geared toward those customers who depend on pdfs in place of (or in addition to) dead-tree versions. If this store owner doesn't sell pdf's then why does it matter what the cost of the pdf is somewhere else? He obviously wasn't too perturbed by WotC's pdf pull...because it doesn't affect him. But suddenly, other company's decisions on what to do with their pdfs does?

And in case he comes on here and reads this, which he might, I can say with 100% truthfulness that I have never bought a pdf which was also in print which I didn't later get in dead-tree version. After getting my free Exalted book, I think I'm going to pick that one up at my FLGS next time I'm there. I bet there are customers in your area who will do the same.


"I mean, if the PDF is free, why would anyone ever need the printed book?"

Yeah, and Paizo's still sitting on hundreds of thousands of PDF beta books, because the PDF was free.

I think for most people, it's not an either/or. I know it's not for me. I need both a PDF and a hardcopy.

I think getting the PDF for less will mean more people will get both - and that's where stores come in.

Plus, this is all about keeping PDFs alive.


Both, also. PDF to sneak peeks at work, books for the table. Easier than passing around a laptop.

EDIT: Actually just rec'd a copy of the Magic Item Compendium via Amazon. 13.99 plus shipping. Of course neither WoTC nor a local FLGS rec'd the money, not that they would have sold it so reasonably, because it's out of print.


Treebore the Ruby Lord wrote:

Its not PDF sales killing retail stores like Titan Games, its Amazon. Always has been.

Its simple, I walk into a retail store, that I have to go out of my way to go to in the first place, I have to pay full retail and taxes.

Here I am, sitting at home on my computer, I can go to Amazon, find the titles I want, and usually get a nice discount, free shipping, and no taxes.

Simply put Titan Games, its Amazon that is kicking your butt, always has been and always will be. Amazon isn't going away, and I am not going to pay full retail when I don't have to, no matter how guilty you try to make me feel.

Simply put, Amazon is far more convenient and allows my RPG budget to buy me 1/3 more products, you aren't and don't. So you lose.

This.

Dark Archive

I agree with Treebore. Amazon, not PDFs.

I bought the entire Dark Heresy line of products off of Amazon.ca with free shipping, and a reasonable delivery time for $30 more than the price of the single core rulebook in my FLGS.

Sorry, but 6 books for the price of 1 and change. It's a no brainer.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

I am a totally late comer to the notion of PDFs. I have the books, I do not own a lap top, and the computer is not in the room we use for gaming. I can't take a laptop with me to read in a long bath, at work while the kids I'm with are doing homework, or the myriad other places I will have a book along to while away the time.

That said, I love having the PDFs for searching out that danged rule I can't remember where I read it, for printing out specific information for my players to see while not giving them things they "don't need to know", etc.

PDFs are icing on the cake for me. But books are an always will be the cake. And as my groaning gaming shelves can attest, I have always supported my local gaming store.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

Treebore the Ruby Lord wrote:

Its not PDF sales killing retail stores like Titan Games, its Amazon. Always has been.

Its simple, I walk into a retail store, that I have to go out of my way to go to in the first place, I have to pay full retail and taxes.

Here I am, sitting at home on my computer, I can go to Amazon, find the titles I want, and usually get a nice discount, free shipping, and no taxes.

Simply put Titan Games, its Amazon that is kicking your butt, always has been and always will be. Amazon isn't going away, and I am not going to pay full retail when I don't have to, no matter how guilty you try to make me feel.

Simply put, Amazon is far more convenient and allows my RPG budget to buy me 1/3 more products, you aren't and don't. So you lose.

I'd like to expand on this.

As an owner of an Exalted 2E Hardcover 1st Printing (preordered months before the release date) and a pre-orderer of the Pathfinder RPG Hardcover 1st printing, I am a viracious consumer of PDFs. Why? 2 reasons and 2 reasons only: 1) I can view them at work thanks to my thumb drive and 2) the search function. I don't take a PDF with me to read at night as I'm falling asleep. I don't take a PDF to the game table. That's what physical products are for.

Like Treebore said, your competition is Amazon. I can order from Amazon during my lunch break. Meanwhile I am lucky if I get to my FLGS once every 2-3 month. My problem with my FLGS: price. They hang onto old d20 stock from companies long since out of business that I've never heard of before and are still charging full price for. I'd consider giving it a go even if it was 10% off. I've asked and was told that I'd have to buy a large quantity to get any kind of discount. I'd rather find something that sounds interesting and search for it on ebay than pay full price for something I'm probably going to never use, but might find an interesting read. And that lost revenue keeps the FLGS from raising money to buy newer products.

So I'm sorry, but I'm sympathise with complaining about giving away a free PDF (esp when it might be a nice way to generate sales of the physical book so that way players can take it to game and read it in bed).

Liberty's Edge

Someone needs to talk to Baen's stable (primarily David Weber, David Drake, John Ringo, and Eric Flint). You can get almost everything they have published with Baen for free either from Baen's sites or from someone who has posted (with Baen's ok) the CDs they put out semi-regularly. The last CD had EVERY book David Weber had written and the Honorverse anthologies for Baen, minus the most recent novel (which was due to a production snafu and it wasn't ready when they had to press the CDs.

Even before Baen got into it in a huge way, the first Honor Harrington book had been available as a free download for a good long time as a loss leader. It drove up sales of the sequels AND made it the most popular book (in terms of sales) of Baen's back catalog.

Ebooks do not hurt hard copy sales in any meaningful way. Free ebooks actually help sales of hard copy in many cases.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Lisa tells me about a lot of things Marcus King says and does, so even though I'm not sure I could pick him out of a lineup, I have a lot of respect for him; I think he's one of this industry's smartest retailers, and I would like more retailers to take a lesson or two from him.

However, in this case, I think he's way off target.

For any given product, a gamer's buying options fall into one of four groups:

1: I'll buy the print edition.
2: I'll buy the PDF.
3: I'll buy both.
4: I'll buy neither.

Let's evaluate those in terms of a brick-and-mortar retailer:

1: This group may buy the product from him.
2: This group will never buy the product from him.
3: This group may buy the product from him.
4: This group will never buy the product from him.

Now, the only time that any promotion harms a retailer is if it causes his potential customers to move from groups 1 or 3 (potentially buying from him) into groups 2 or 4 (not buying from him). Now, it would be hard to imagine that a promotion like this would cause any of his customers to switch from any group into group 4 (not buying the product at all), so we need only focus on the potential for his customers moving from group 1 to group 2, and from group 3 to group 2.

Let's take the first question first: will this promotion cause customers who would have only purchased the print edition from Marcus to instead only purchase the PDF from us?

Many of the people who would only have purchased the print edition will never consider purchasing any PDF, at any price, so those folks aren't being swayed by any PDF-only promotion. Most of the rest are buying the book from him specifically because they want to give him their custom; that only has the potential of changing for those who are swayed by price. Now, given that PDFs are commonly sold for less than the price of the book, the customers who are the most price-sensitive have already fled to category 2—that is, they are already not his customer. Still, the promotion *will* draw customers who are *somewhat* price sensitive—but have already decided that price is not the most important factor—from category 1 to category 2, so the retailer will lose those sales. (We'll come back to this a little later.)

Now to the second question: will this promotion cause customers who would have purchased the print edition from him and the PDF from us to buy them both from us?

I think that's a clear no. Any customer who is already willing to engage in two transactions has a good reason for doing so—most likely, they're deliberately showing their support of their local game store. Given that this promotion doesn't making it any easier or cheaper to buy the print product from us, I don't see anything that would sway the behavior of this group.

So far, we've only talked about how this promotion can harm the retailer, and we've come up with one answer: customers who are *somewhat* price sensitive (but not *completely* price sensitive) may now choose the sale-priced PDF over the retail-priced book.

The next question, then, is if the promotion will possibly *benefit* the retailer—that is, can it move customers from groups 2 or 4 into groups 1 or 3. Since it's a PDF promotion, it's unlikely to move many people *into* group 1 (print-only buyers), or *out of* group 2 (PDF-only buyers), so we need only look at people moving from group 4 (non-buyers) into group 3 (buyers of both). I believe that this promotion will get some people who weren't willing to risk the non-sale price to go ahead and take the chance on buying the PDF at the sale price. For many of them, they're done; they'll stop with the PDF. But some number of them will enjoy the PDF so much that they'll go out and buy the book, giving the retailer the opportunity to capture that sale.

So now we've seen that customers who are *somewhat* price sensitive (but not *completely* price sensitive) may now choose the sale-priced PDF over the retail-priced book, but that previous non-buyers who enjoyed the PDF may now buy the book at retail.

So the only question for the retailer, then, is whether the number of somewhat price sensitive customers who flee to the PDF is higher or lower than the number of previous non-buyers who now choose to buy the book. That's hard to estimate, but I can assure you that a smart retailer like Marcus has a pretty good chance of capturing potential customers inclined in his direction.

Personally, I feel pretty confident that our products are high enough quality that many of the people being exposed to them via sale-priced PDFs will indeed go on to choose to pick up a print copy at a brick-and-mortar retailer. I feel that the number of people who are price-sensitive enough that they now choose to buy only the sale-priced PDF instead of the full-priced book is the smaller number here, and that's borne out to the extreme by the fact that we gave out a FREE PDF of our Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Beta to everyone who wanted one, yet we still sold out the entire print run in just a couple of months.

Cheap (or even free) PDFs do not trump the desire for printed books by a significant portion of the audience.

Beyond even that, though, this sale provides an opportunity for customers who haven't looked at our products to explore them in a low-risk way, and I believe that some of them will become long-term Pathfinder customers who, after the sale ends, may continue to buy Pathfinder products in PDF and print form, from us and from local game stores, for years to come.

I honestly believe that the net effect this promotion will have on retailers—the good ones, anyway—is that they will see a small *increase* in sales of Pathfinder products, and hopefully even one which will provide new long-term customers. Over time, I believe that will significantly outweigh the few sales they might lose during the promotion.


I'll provide my personal viewpoint on what I have bought.

I bought all the PDFs and the hard copies of the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path. I did so because I'm running it and I want to be able to read it whenever I have my laptop with me (just easier than carrying around 6 books).

I bought ONLY PDFs for Curse of the Crimson Throne because I don't foresee running this Adventure Path, but I wanted a lot of the good content that it contained.

At the start of Second Darkness, I got a Pathfinder subscription to Chronicles, Companion, and the Adventure Path.

When I buy any content now, I do try to obtain both the PDF and the hard copy for the reason mentioned first. However, since 99% of the gaming content I buy now is from Paizo, this is pretty easy. Before that I'd pick up hard copies ONLY when I knew I'd be playing the content a lot and PDF was my usually my default purchase for archival reasons.

Now, the content that I only have hard copies for are some old TSR stuff, WotC material, and Mutants and Masterminds (which reminds me I should really get the PDF).


I downloaded the .pdf of the Pathfinder RPG beta and also own the print copy. I tried reading the beta on the screen - no thanks. I use the print copy to read it, but I use the .pdf to search for things.

Different uses for different mediums.

The Exchange

Paizo PDFs actually got me interested in buying print books again. I've been buying PDFs exclusively for 6 years since I primarily read them and it's easier to justify the investment. (With the exception of Ptolus which was just too cool not to buy.)

When I realized I could get the print version of the APs and the PDFs for roughly the same price, I subscribed. Shortly after I got my first issue - I rediscovered how much more fun it is to have a high quality book and I went out and got the Pathfinder setting, Shackled City from my local game store.

Paizo initially grabbed me as a customer when I needed to plug some holes in my Greyhawk collection - and then quite a bit after I saw the Pathfinder Beta book. After that it was all over as I was hooked -- in any case, anything that Paizo can do to attract new customers is probably good as I had very little in interest in 4e from the beginning and I wouldn't have been buying anything new.

Contributor

My opinion of this letter is that it's a retailer jumping on the stage to cry "Me! Me too! Me too!"

I say this as a customer who patronizes my FLGS, or did until it went under and fell back to its original branch (which I can go to, but it's no longer convenient).

Myself, I like free PDFs, but have only bought a few. I like actual books more and do comparison shop for them. FLGS gets my money when they're the best deal, usually for small purchases where postage makes little sense with Amazon.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

My FLGS (well my Friendly Across Town Gaming Store, since I prefer the Guardtower over Ravenstone) accepts that I'll buy my Pathdiner stuff via Paizo, but most of my other stuff comes from there.

So they don't have an impact from me at least.

Liberty's Edge

For me a PDF will always be a second choice or purchase. My FLGS back in Alaska makes a nice bit of change off me--I buy all my GW and PP models from them, paint and supplies, comics, etc, not to mention lots of impulse that-looks-awesome-gotta-have-it purchases.

They have an entire display set aside for Paizo products, which sell quite well and get storefront visibility. I'm pretty sure that Paizo offering PDFs at a nice discount has virtually no effect on The Comic Shop's sales of physical product, including Pathfinder and GameMastery.

I'd argue that PDFs are a far cry from CDs (the digital-music-killed-CDs argument reworked as "PDFs are killing physical books," I mean to say).

As a related aside, I'm willing to bet that a lot of the legal and illegal acquisition of PDFs is made by kids, teens, and the financially-challenged. That is to say, people who probably would have a tough time buying the physical product in the first place--i.e., I doubt anyone is losing that much in sales, since you can't lose what you never had.


Gamer Girrl wrote:

I can't take a laptop with me to read in a long bath, at work while the kids I'm with are doing homework, or the myriad other places I will have a book along to while away the time.

You probably can. Once. Then it might be dead laptop or dead reader.

;)


Andrew Turner wrote:
As a related aside, I'm willing to bet that a lot of the legal and illegal acquisition of PDFs is made by kids, teens, and the financially-challenged. That is to say, people who probably would have a tough time buying the physical product in the first place--i.e., I doubt anyone is losing that much in sales, since you can't lose what you never had.

I would venture that, plus the group that acquires illegal PDFs to spite the publishing company make up the majority.

There is a small group of true thieves that take everything they can get, and an even smaller group of people that just love cracking things.

The rest are financially challenged, and/or spiting the publishers.

Liberty's Edge

I think that the RPG industry can have the best of both worlds. PDF versions of gaming material are great for portable, easy access to information if you have a laptop on the go and don't want to lug a gymbag full of reference material (campaign sourcebooks, splatbooks etc). You also have to kill fewer digital trees to publish an e-book.

Hardcopies are great for the tactile enjoyment of the book as an artefact and for reference of one or two often-used products (like a copy of Beta and the adventure you're running). Owning both the digital and hard copy of a book gives you greater flexibility with your library.

That being said, I also think you should pay for the products you use. I also believe that for any hard copy of a book purchased, no matter who the retailer is, the original purchaser the should have the opportunity to download a digital version from the publisher as part of the puchase price.

If a company such as Paizo were to enact such a practice, I could see an increase in:
1) public goodwill
2) a drop in piracy of their products
3) an increase in the number of people registered as users to their store (more information on demographics and purchasing habits is a useful marketing tool and feedback from the forums has prooven to be a powerful tool as well -Beta anyone?)
4) sales generated when customers go to the store to redeem their "free" digital version of their books (impulse buys, value added material, the next module in the series etc...)

Just IMO, but I'm probably a nut... :)
Cheers!
X
PS Putting my money where my mouth is and ordered hard and digital copies of Hungry are the Dead. Looks awesoms so far BTW!

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Vic Wertz wrote:
...

Vic, in addition to being the longest post I've ever seen from you, I think your explanation was very concise and I appreciate it.

-Skeld

Dark Archive

veector wrote:

I'll provide my personal viewpoint on what I have bought.

I bought all the PDFs and the hard copies of the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path. I did so because I'm running it and I want to be able to read it whenever I have my laptop with me (just easier than carrying around 6 books).

I bought ONLY PDFs for Curse of the Crimson Throne because I don't foresee running this Adventure Path, but I wanted a lot of the good content that it contained.

At the start of Second Darkness, I got a Pathfinder subscription to Chronicles, Companion, and the Adventure Path.

When I buy any content now, I do try to obtain both the PDF and the hard copy for the reason mentioned first. However, since 99% of the gaming content I buy now is from Paizo, this is pretty easy. Before that I'd pick up hard copies ONLY when I knew I'd be playing the content a lot and PDF was my usually my default purchase for archival reasons.

Now, the content that I only have hard copies for are some old TSR stuff, WotC material, and Mutants and Masterminds (which reminds me I should really get the PDF).

In support of this view I would just like to say that my introduction to PF written works came through browsing through some kids PF PDFs for about an hour at my local FLGS (He had a laptop with several modules on it, and I spent my time reading most of the module "Burnt Offerings" and spent a little time with a book on the gods of Golarion) while waiting for the rest of my tardy gaming group to show up. My time spent with the material prompted me to purchase the book on Gods that very day as my FLGS had it in stock (I believe it was called "Gods and Magic") and to seek out and order the entire Rise of the Runelords series from the interwebs. It also prompted me to try a few of the Game Mastery items simply out of brand recognition. So I would have to agree that exposure to a company, even through PDFs is still in fact exposure, and if a company has products that suit the viewer it can lead to physical book purchases.

But that is just my own experience.

love,

malkav

Sczarni

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber
Xuttah wrote:
That being said, I also think you should pay for the products you use. I also believe that for any hard copy of a book purchased, no matter who the retailer is, the original purchaser the should have the opportunity to download a digital version from the publisher as part of the puchase price.

This has been brought up before:

The issue with this is that you have to find a cost effective way to do it.

1. Paizo won't seal the books because the fabulous art is part of what sets them apart from other 3PP

2. They can't include one time use passwords as cards in the books, as then people could go to the FLGS and rip out the card and use the free PDF code.This could also damage the binding of the books.

3.Scratch off codes: see #2

If you can find a effective way to allow this and is also cost effective, Vic has said before that they were open to the idea.

Liberty's Edge

Cpt_kirstov wrote:


If you can find a effective way to allow this and is also cost effective, Vic has said before that they were open to the idea.

They same way I activate my phone card for my cell phone. You bring the card to cashier and they ring it through. Once it's paid for, then you get a unique PIN code on the receipt. When you register that PIN, you unlock the content for one user. This may require a degree of sophistication that involves use of the interwebs, but it's not complicated.

Sczarni

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber
Xuttah wrote:
Cpt_kirstov wrote:


If you can find a effective way to allow this and is also cost effective, Vic has said before that they were open to the idea.
They same way I activate my phone card for my cell phone. You bring the card to cashier and they ring it through. Once it's paid for, then you get a unique PIN code on the receipt. When you register that PIN, you unlock the content for one user. This may require a degree of sophistication that involves use of the interwebs, but it's not complicated.

It also requires the FLGS to have registers that are connected to phone lines/internet to receive the PIN. I've been to 10+ FLGS in the New England area, only one of these had registers capable of this(and that is because it was part of a chain), some still do everything (except credit cards) by hand! I have only been to 2 that have internet access on site at all.


There is another one from Jane Witt of The Keep in Fort Wayne, Indiana

http://www.icv2.com/articles/news/14706.html

"Strike me with a silly stick, but why as a brick & mortar business owner should I make a business decision to stock your products in my store?"

"Since you've "reacted strongly to Wizards of the Coast’s announcement that it was ceasing PDF sales of its product, reaffirming their support for PDF sales and initiating special offers to lure former WotC customers," I and possibly many others, will be forced to reassess our decision to offer your products in our stores."

Talking about ALL the people from the article offering discounts on PDFs White Wolf, SJG, and of course..... Paizo!

I think dropping all other but WotC products would be a way to make sure her business fails. I think Paizo will quickly soak up the revenue from the recent happenings, and have bought an addition book from RPGNOW (Paizo was down due to slashdot traffic for me the other day) to go with my Pathfinder Beta download from here, and I don't even like 3.5 or its decendants. But I love the RPG hobby, so wanted to support someone and most of my friends that play current D&D still play and like 3.5 so I got some more goodies for it when I can't convince them to play AD&D.

I wonder if these stores don't realize other than the fact than online dead-tre stock sellers like Amazon, and even Walmart, are cutting down the B&M stores business, but general poor quality of many of the RPG related gaming stores, and the fact that CCGs have overcrowded them.

A retail location to support PAtherfinder, or any other RPG must not just sell books, but provide space to play, and if it is all taken up with CCGs, then what is there to intice people to buy from a retailer for ANY RPG, rather than get the book online, since they will more than likely have to play at home anyway, and not have to be crowded by CCG players in an environment where they cannot hope to even play there games, unless they also play CCGs?

Well I did what I could at this time to support RPGs and defy WotC. I bought a PAzio book from RPGNOW in the sale, and sadly cannot buy anything other than online, because my FLGS is one that suffers from the CCG syndrome, and well as just poor quality management, and the people running the store, that is mentioned in the above ICV2 bit may KNOW a bit about the dead-tree stock they are trying to sell, but are not very interested in discussing or promoting the products, and many look down on the RPGs as well. So I have no FLGS/B&M retail store that is worth visiting to support.

I wish I had known Paizo had AD&D PDFs before this happened, so I could have got me a bunch to support them after the magazines were yanked form then way back when, cause my boxed sets are about dead from use, and I would not want to use many of the other books for fear of them getting worse and worse.

So Pathfinder, you may be hearing more from me. And the retailers may be seeing more sales declines if they cannot adapt with the times, and if nothing else, start an eBay store to sell their dead-tree stock to also allow them to get a foot in the door against Amazon, and other major online sellers of dead-tree stock. Granted that foot may be returned as a bloody stump when the iron-clad Amazon door slams shut on it, but you either try to survive by adapting, or just run home with your tail between your legs and close up shop.

I am sorry for ALL retailers, but welcome to the digital age and the late 1990's since many seem not ready to join the 21st century, at least join the previous decade.


Yeah, I'd consider this a good time to warn brick and mortar store owners: I lived without you for most of my life, and I can easily change my behavior from being a supporter to going back to my old ways--much more easily now, thanks to the internet. Since I've discovered Paizo (which pretty much caused my return to physical game stores), I've never done business with a game store that didn't carry Paizo products, and if one was to dump Paizo as a pro-Wizards/protest pdf sale move, then they'd be dumping my business as well.


Correction to my last post. The store I mentioned is not my local store, I have never been, there, but my local store looks down on RPGs, and it may be the same as The Keep, if they are having problems selling RPG products.


I know everyone is saying that it is Amazon and the like that are putting our FLGS out of business, but I would have to politely disagree. I would say it is our FLGS that are putting themselves out of business. My FLGS sells all gaming products at a 20% discount off the MSRP all the time. It's not as great as the 30% that Amazon gives, but I also get to meet new gamers and play locally run games/tournaments at my FLGS. Something that I can't do at Amazon.com. As long as my FLGS keeps having game days, where I can play with people I haven't met before and continues to sell all of their gaming products at a 20% discount, I will continue to shop there instead of Amazon.com. Could I save some cash, yeah, but I wouldn't have the experience, and by supporting my local FLGS, I keeping 4 or 6 local people employed in this down economy. My FLGS even goes out of its way to support our local conventions and gaming groups by giving away free merchandise at conventions in exchange for some advertising.
I do know of two other gaming stores within 70 miles of this one that while offering tournaments and game days, do not offer free merchandise for conventions and no discount on any products. I don't buy from either of them, even though one is closer. There are a lot of things B&M retailers can do to get my dollar.
Maybe its not the norm, and maybe I'm just lucky in the fact that my FLGS is great to work with and that they offer a wonderful service to the gamer community and a great discount. Either way, I'm glad their here, and I'll continue to support them.

BTW, I have to drive 72 miles to get to my FLGS. So I only get there about once a month. And I usually spend on average $120 a visit.


shieldknight01 wrote:

I do know of two other gaming stores within 70 miles of this one that while offering tournaments and game days, do not offer free merchandise for conventions and no discount on any products. I don't buy from either of them, even though one is closer. There are a lot of things B&M retailers can do to get my dollar.

Maybe its not the norm, and maybe I'm just lucky in the fact that my FLGS is great to work with and that they offer a wonderful service to the gamer community and a great discount. Either way, I'm glad their here, and I'll continue to support them.

I think you are right on many fronts. Those stores that see MSRP as the price to sell something are hurting themselves and all other stores. Also FME, you are lucky in having a decent game store that understands how to support its wares, and the hobbies it sells things for. I know a few LGS, that thought it would be a quick and easy way to jump on the expanding CCG market, and exploded comic book market to make some fast money. Even with lower than MSRP prices, some of these stores don't really do anything to make you want to visit them.

The whole FLGS system must change to adapt as yours seems to have always done, and need to promote not only their products, but themselves, to make gamers WANT to show them their support, and toss them money in sales, and their loyalty.

Even without any discount on the MSRP, I would buy things from a store that is courteous rather than one that has cheaper things, but could care less about what they are selling. You kind of need to show your customers you care about the same things. The one bit made it seem like employees were forced to learn about the RPG books and materials to communicate with the customers in order to sale things. That does not show the store itself has any real interest int he products they are selling, so may be evidence to why they are suffering in that part of their business model.

Scarab Sages

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
VagrantWhisper wrote:

I agree with Treebore. Amazon, not PDFs.

I bought the entire Dark Heresy line of products off of Amazon.ca with free shipping, and a reasonable delivery time for $30 more than the price of the single core rulebook in my FLGS.

Sorry, but 6 books for the price of 1 and change. It's a no brainer.

It does amaze me that Brick&Mortar can't meet Amazon's prices. I sure it has to do with volume and overhead, but even if B&M offered a 15% discount (vs the 20 to 35% at amazon) I'd buy more. As it turns out I do buy from B&M when they have their clearance sales.

Sometimes I get PF modules and Chronicles from FLGS too as they are not heavily discounted by Amazon.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Doesnt sound like the type of store that I'd want to frequent anyway:

Short Reviews

No active website either?

Non-existent website here


I hope their "new management" also replaced the one criticizing the pdf sale.

Scarab Sages

Spoiler:

This isn't specifically related to the topic at hand, but I still felt like writing it... :)

I have both the PDF and the print version of the Beta rules. And this discussion has brought up the point of the PDF being used to search for stuff, and the print being used for leisurely reading. It's fine for me because I take a laptop to the table when we game (it's especially handy as the DM). However, my *one* major criticism of printed books is that they absolutely, positively, without question, MUST have an index. The lack of an index has actually put me off buying print versions of things in the past. I only bought the print version of the Beta rules because I have faith that the release of the Core Rulebook in August/September will have an index. If it doesn't... well, it's fairly useless to me and I'll just buy the PDF (since I don't use rulebooks for leisurely reading - I use setting sourcebooks for that :). ALright, I probably won't be able to resist even if it doesn't have an index, but it will get a lot less use if it doesn't. :)

Good example is trying to look up Coup de Grace last night. I had the Beta rulebook sitting right beside me, but still flipped open the PDF and did a search... had it in less time than it would have taken me to flip through the print to even begin searching for that section... and even after I did my search in the PDF I still have no real idea where it is in the print book since it opened up to exactly the page and section I needed in the PDF. Could have been page 12, could have been page 214... doesn't matter, because it was fast and got me exactly where I needed to be. If the Beta book had an index I would have instinctively gone for it first, but I consciously looked at it and said to myself "I have no idea where this rule is found in the book, and have no way to really find it without flipping a lot. PDF here I come."

I did a little comparison of what it costs me to buy from Paizo, FLGS, and Amazon in another thread. For the price of just the Core Rulebook at my FLGS I can get both the Core Rulebook and the Bestiary at Amazon with free shipping and no tax. At my FLGS I also have to pay tax. If I buy from Paizo, I have to pay shipping charges to Canada.

As has been said many times before: blame Amazon for the demise of the FLGS, not the producers of the material who also make it available as a PDF.

Sczarni

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber
Mactaka wrote:


It does amaze me that Brick&Mortar can't meet Amazon's prices. I sure it has to do with volume and overhead, but even if B&M offered a 15% discount (vs the 20 to 35% at amazon)

On average a small B&M store will get things at 65-75% MSRP depending on the publisher (seems that the bigger the publisher is, the more of a discount the store gets) so if they sell for 15% off they may only be making 3-4 dollars profit, which does not cover the rack time that could be used by things like comics that they can buy for 25 cents each and sell for 3.99 (again it varies by publisher)


One thing everyone is forgetting with the taxes, is that technically, and legally you are supposed to pay your state and local taxes for things bought online. It would be something you have to submit seperately. If you think I'm kidding, I'm not. In my state, South Dakota, they are starting to crack down on this and looking into ways to enforce this, as a lot of people in my state live in a location where the only choice they have is to drive 100 miles or shop online. Legally you are still responsible for the taxes on items bought online. Just because the online store doesn't charge you for them, doesn't mean they aren't there. Even stuff bought from Paizo.com!

For example, on average I would guess that I spend about $1,200 in online purchases. If I was to pay my state sales tax, which is 4%, it would cost me an additional $48. Multiply this by the number of people in the state, 750,000 and you get about $36 million dollars that my state is missing out on. Now look at a bigger state like our neighbor, Minnesota, whith a population in the millions. There are a lot of states out there that would have a lot more money to spend on education and transportation if we all paid our online taxes. Not to mention the local communities. Mine has a 2% sales tax, add that into the mix and my local community is probably missing out on about $300,000 a year from internet sales tax.

Now, having said that, I will admit I have not yet paid any taxes for online purchases. I could go on with several suggestions on how the states could enforce this, but I digress.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Cpt_kirstov wrote:
If you can find a effective way to allow this and is also cost effective, Vic has said before that they were open to the idea.

Apress publishes books covering various computer technologies. As for RPGs, this is a domain where it is useful to have both the physical and the electronic versions of the book.

When you buy a (physical) book from them, you get the opportunity to get the electronic version for 10 dollars. This is done through a simple page on their web site that asks for your name and the ISBN number of the book you bought. You then have 2 minutes to answer a question along the lines of "What is the third word of the second paragraph of page 345?". If the answer is right, you get the electronic book for 10$ instead of 40$, because you already bought the physical version.

I like that.

Sovereign Court

shieldknight01 wrote:
I know everyone is saying that it is Amazon and the like that are putting our FLGS out of business, but I would have to politely disagree. I would say it is our FLGS that are putting themselves out of business. <snip>

I have to jump in and agree with shieldknight. My FLGS went out of business a couple of years ago, which was sad but not much of a surprise. Prices were often not marked clearly (a major pet peeve of mine, I admit), it was hard to figure out what exactly was on sale when they had sales, and it was a very uncomfortable place to be if you were a newcomer to gaming. Or female. I was both.

For example, just to ENTER the store, I had to walk between a narrow gap between tables set up for various games I didn't understand, usually filled with teenage boys and/or large older men. I've got nothing against either group of people, but if I hesitated to squeeze between them, you can be sure that a casual shopper just looking for a board game wouldn't even think twice about moving on. Still, I tried to buy from them as often as I could, because I enjoyed being able to purchase from someone who had a clue about why I was excited about the new Eberron sourcebook (or whatever), or could help guide me to the right book when I wasn't sure which one to get.

For my wedding anniversary in December, we made a special trip to the next closest FLGS, an hour away from our house (my awesome husband was letting me pick out my own geek gifts). I'd heard they had a big selection of used books. It was true, but the books were almost as expensive as they had been new! I bought one book and an old Dragon mag that looked interesting and was old enough to be dirt cheap, so the trip wasn't a total waste of time. Then I went home and bought Heroes of Horror for $2 from Alibris.com. I would have been happy to pay $10 for it at the FLGS.

Just like bookstores, gaming stores need to figure out a new business model. Times change, and a smart businessperson changes with them.


Cpt_kirstov wrote:
Mactaka wrote:


It does amaze me that Brick&Mortar can't meet Amazon's prices. I sure it has to do with volume and overhead, but even if B&M offered a 15% discount (vs the 20 to 35% at amazon)
On average a small B&M store will get things at 65-75% MSRP depending on the publisher (seems that the bigger the publisher is, the more of a discount the store gets) so if they sell for 15% off they may only be making 3-4 dollars profit, which does not cover the rack time that could be used by things like comics that they can buy for 25 cents each and sell for 3.99 (again it varies by publisher)

I have a friend that runs a smaller store and gets around a 45% discount from the distributor. His cost on the 4E core rules was the same as the Amazon pre-order! Heck, even Paizo had a difficult time matching that pricing.

I'm not sure if my FLGS would get much better than that unless his business and orders vastly increased. I don't think that many FLGS get books directly from the publishers, but must rely on distributors such as Diamond, Alliance and ACD. At least this is what I've been told over the years by a few shops.

When you take that into consideration it's no wonder that few FLGSs can't afford to offer the kinds of prices that places like Amazon can- they just can't order that kind of bulk to receive discounts like that. This kind of thing isn't just affecting FLGSs and comic book stores- it's the WalMart syndrome. Small businesses cannot compete with these megacorps on a price basis and struggle to maintain customer loyalty through superior customer service.

Contributor

Cpt_kirstov wrote:
Xuttah wrote:
That being said, I also think you should pay for the products you use. I also believe that for any hard copy of a book purchased, no matter who the retailer is, the original purchaser the should have the opportunity to download a digital version from the publisher as part of the puchase price.

This has been brought up before:

The issue with this is that you have to find a cost effective way to do it.

1. Paizo won't seal the books because the fabulous art is part of what sets them apart from other 3PP

2. They can't include one time use passwords as cards in the books, as then people could go to the FLGS and rip out the card and use the free PDF code.This could also damage the binding of the books.

3.Scratch off codes: see #2

If you can find a effective way to allow this and is also cost effective, Vic has said before that they were open to the idea.

I remember a number of years ago at DunDraCon, Chaosium was selling the spiffy new hardback edition of Call of Cthulhu, which in the back had a coupon to be cut out and mailed in for a free adventure. But since they were selling the book right there and had the freebie adventure as well, people were just clipping their coupons and turning them in for the freebie.

I'm also thinking of the way the perfume counter works at most major department stores: There's almost always some "gift with purchase" with any fragrance. Sometimes the gift is really good, occasionally even exceeding the value of the main purchase. For example, I remember once being caught in a freak rainstorm and the only umbrellas for sale were poor quality at absurd prices. But if I went to the perfume counter, I could get three different umbrellas of really nice quality so long as I bought three different aftershaves for less than they wanted for umbrellas in another part of the store. Tote bags too.

It would be pretty easy for Paizo to make up "Free PDF download code" cards for merchants to keep behind the counter as "Gift with Purchase" and distribute those themselves following the perfume counter model.


They would have to be individually numbered to prevent people from sharing the "code" with their friends, but it could be done - like a raffle ticket. I don't think that process is terribly expensive either.

Contributor

I've gotten "in game item" promotional cards from Kingdom of Loathing when they were at Comicon and they were done that exact way: each code redeemable only once. The printing was also insanely cheap: just a peel-off computer-printed label stuck to the back of a business card.


There is a "LGS" on line, just people have refused to explore it fully.

Your already part of it by being here, and any other RPG message board. You do another part if you buy books/PDF's from Paizo, Amazon, etc...

Now to go fully LGS on line you need to do what I do, game on line, using SKYPE ( a free conference phone program that works via your computer) and Maptools (Free from RPTools.net that is a great mapping program, allows uploads of maps and tokens, and has pretty easy macros you can create for your specific character integrating all attacks, saves, spell damages, etc... The only problem is one of your group has to know how to do port forwarding)

So my "LGS" is already completely on line, and because I game from home I have time to play in or run 5 different games per week. 2 of them Warhammer. We are doing Gear Kreig next week, and soon we'll be playing L5R for about 10 weeks. No travel times, none of the other half dozen things you have to do for a face to face game. You just sit down at your comp, open up SKYPE and Maptools, put your headset on, open you character PDF, and start talking to your gaming buddies.

Sczarni

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber
Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:


It would be pretty easy for Paizo to make up "Free PDF download code" cards for merchants to keep behind the counter...

But then the card would have to make it from paizo, to the distributor, to the FLGS without being lost. Considering the amount of times i have seen D&D minis 'preorder a case and you can get this free' mini be lost by distributors, a card doesn't stand much of a chance.


roguerouge wrote:

Submitted for your consideration:

Go to "Maybe It's Just Me".

I have read some of Mr King's retail reports before, and they give a great bird's eye view into retail. You would be amazed at how many channel managers there are that see each level of distribution as just being a numbers game.

However, in this case, I think he is off.

The trick here from a sales perspective is to maximize performance of all channels.

PDFs need to be much cheaper than the physical product, because otherwise they will just get pirated rather than paid for. Yeah, they will still be pirated, but there are those that would pay if the PDF hit their magical price point. Also, if a PDF is full color, printing it all out can result in a spent, expensive printer cartridge.

It doesn't help to make a complete comparison to software though, as a pirated piece of software is usually the entire product (remember all those great manuals that USED to be in retail software packages?), whereas a book is still a physical purchase.

I believe that if someone invests significant time into a game, they are more likely to pay for a physical, complete book. Even if they have a PDF, the benefits of having the manuals become more and more apparent each time they are at a session.

For core rule books, make the PDFs free and/or cheap. It will get more games started and generate more interest in visiting retail to get a good physical copy.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Fayries wrote:
Cpt_kirstov wrote:
If you can find a effective way to allow this and is also cost effective, Vic has said before that they were open to the idea.

Apress publishes books covering various computer technologies. As for RPGs, this is a domain where it is useful to have both the physical and the electronic versions of the book.

When you buy a (physical) book from them, you get the opportunity to get the electronic version for 10 dollars. This is done through a simple page on their web site that asks for your name and the ISBN number of the book you bought. You then have 2 minutes to answer a question along the lines of "What is the third word of the second paragraph of page 345?". If the answer is right, you get the electronic book for 10$ instead of 40$, because you already bought the physical version.

I like that.

So then you can also get the cheap PDF without buying the book if you have a friend that owns the book, a library that has the book, a book store that has an internet cafe, a web browser on your cell phone...

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Cpt_kirstov wrote:
Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:


It would be pretty easy for Paizo to make up "Free PDF download code" cards for merchants to keep behind the counter...
But then the card would have to make it from paizo, to the distributor, to the FLGS without being lost. Considering the amount of times i have seen D&D minis 'preorder a case and you can get this free' mini be lost by distributors, a card doesn't stand much of a chance.

Yes (where the word "lost" is in quotes).

While many retailers would happily take the effort and participate with honesty in such a plan, other retailers would be unable to organize the effort. Some would flat-out refuse to pass on the card, as, in their view, they'd be sending their customers to a perceived competitor (be it Paizo, the internet, or the PDF medium). Some would use the codes themselves, potentially leaving customers to be disappointed.

We need a solution that doesn't rely on the retailer's willingness or ability to participate.

Sovereign Court

It's definitely true that the bundling of hard copy and pdf that comes from subscribing is a huge incentive, even over buying from Amazon, let alone from a games store at MSRP, if there's one nearby. I can see why games stores are bothered about it, although it's not like there's enough games stores around that we can all get to one, anyhow.

The way I read the response to the WotC pdf actions was, yes, grabbing some publicity and goodwill but also trying to ensure, in the short term, that the pdf market remained lively (particularly for people like WW that sell through rpgnow, keeping rpgnow viable is important, I would imagine). Paizo's position as a publisher but also a store -- not just of pdfs but also hard copy of a huge range of games products -- puts them in the rather off position of being an FLGS supplier but also, explicitly, a FLGS competitor. They do seem to care about not cannibalising their bricks-and-mortar distribution network (for example, there are no pdf-only subscriptions) but it seems to me that there's only so far they can go to try and support a dying animal, the FLGS (although of course some of them are doing fine, many are just gone or going soon to be gone).

Liberty's Edge

Vic Wertz wrote:


We need a solution that doesn't rely on the retailer's willingness or ability to participate.

When I purchase a top-up card for my Virgin Mobile cell phone, the cashier gives me a PIN code that is generated by Virgin and grants a one-time credit to my cell account equal to the value of the card that I purchased. I expect that this system is pretty secure since the PIN is tied to the transaction being completed (probably by the unique 16 digit transaction code generated by the purchase). Even the lowliest cashier can perform this task securely.

It is not impossible for Paizo to do the something similar without the need for scratch cards, coupons or other whatnots that can be stolen. The after-purchase code generated could allow the end user to download the digital version to their downloads section of their Paizo account, just as if they purchased it. Your promotion code section in your store could probably serve to register this unique PIN and assign it to the purchaser.

[edit -added thought] Of course, this does require a certain degree of cooperation from the brick and mortar seller, but I'm sure there are incentives and penalties that can be put in place to make it a worthwhile venture.

If my local gas station convenience store or Walmart can do it for cell phones, why not a book store or FLGS for RPG's? The tech exists, all that is required is the will and leadership to do so. Paizo has repeatedly proven itself to be visionary and an industry leader, so could they be in this matter too.

At the very least, Paizo can offer a free digital copy to any purchase of a print book at their online store, not just for subscribers. ;)

Just my rambling thoughts FWIW. I am probably just a voice in the wilderness though, and weary from all the random encounters at that. :)
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