PDF sales effect on gaming store owners


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Crimson Jester wrote:
Sigh what this thread really needs is a new Smurf!

Go find an off-topic forum for that.

I think Paizo considers it important that their customers understand the reason behind their decisions. People want to understand those decisions, that's what this thread is here for.

Mailbombing it with nonsense really isn't the solution.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
hogarth wrote:
I would assume (at least I would hope!) that they also use historical game store orders (& returns?) to predict how much of a need there is for a particular product. So if game stores are selling fewer copies, that should cause them to print fewer copies as well.

This might be true if the PDF price was reduced permanently. It isn't for a random sale though. The great majority of the products on sale have already been produced, their printed counterparts are already in stores/warehouses. A sale for a month is not going to hurt the print run, because it already happened. When they were deciding how many to print, no one said "Let take into account wizards dropping their PDFs and us selling at 35% off for a month". Subscriptions however affect FUTURE sales and a projected revenue stream. The books aren't already printed, so if more people are going to buy sub to the PDF instead of books, then that is less printed book that will sell.

Another thing is that a person buying a PDF because of a sale, was probably not going to buy a printed book anyway. In fact, they were probably not going to buy the item at all, until they saw the sale. (Now this isn't everyone, but a chunk). The sale will mostly increase the amount of people who were thinking about getting the PDF, into those who do purchase.


Not to mention that most people who only look at the price are already lost to many stores, as PDFs are already cheaper, and Amazon's prices are hard to beat.

Sure, the extra 35% off might be cheap enough that you can buy it and then print/bind it yourself (or have it done in a shop), but still I doubt that the sale will significantly reduce the amount of money spent in stores.

On the other hand, it might make people get both the PDF and the print product (without subscribing), and that means that some of those extra purchases will be done in the gaming stores.

The centra problem remains: The stores have a very hard time with matching prices, so they need to offer other advantages (but not letting customers paying through the nose certainly does help. Let's face it: Those who sell for high prices often do that to exploit lack of customer information, or maybe the want of convencience.)


KaeYoss wrote:
Let's face it: Those who sell for high prices often do that to exploit lack of customer information, or maybe the want of convencience.)

Sad but true. I've lost count the amount of times I've been in a games/comic store where the staff have directed the [insert: casual fan/relative/partner/parent/friend who are "uneducated" in what to buy] towards deluxe or limited editions of books/comics/games etc... hell I've even had them try it on me until they realise I'm a tight fisted Scotsman!

Back in the day I used to get my Dungeon and Dragon magazines via my local comic store, but ended up going straight to the source via a paizo subscription as I was being fleeced [despite my loyalty discount]. Pure economics

I take a lot of pride in supporting and ordering from Paizo [despite the overseas shipping lol] and feel [hope?] that I'm valued... do I feel the same for my local stores? Do I feel they value my custom? On both counts I have to say no...

Bottom line is that its a consumers market - there are a wealth of options open to us; be in Paizo's store, Amazon or our local stores.

Liberty's Edge

noretoc wrote:
Subscriptions however affect FUTURE sales and a projected revenue stream. The books aren't already printed, so if more people are going to buy sub to the PDF instead of books, then that is less printed book that will sell.

That is not correct in the context you are using.

Subscriptions do affect future sales, they are future sales.
They can affect future sales in two ways: first by the existence of a subscription creating a demand; second by the knowledge of the number of subscriptions inspiring demand. Since the number will not be revealed, only the existence of a subscription need be considered.
Doing so, we must conclude, if the model is to be taken as accurate, that the existence of a pdf subscription will increase demand for pdfs and result in more pdf sales.

noretoc wrote:
Another thing is that a person buying a PDF because of a sale, was probably not going to buy a printed book anyway. In fact, they were probably not going to buy the item at all, until they saw the sale. (Now this isn't everyone, but a chunk). The sale will mostly increase the amount of people who were thinking about getting the PDF, into those who do purchase.

Except that is not the sole intent of the sale, or of providing access to pdfs. There is also the advertising aspect, that of providing a preview or a reduced price product in an attempt to attract additional customers.

As that is also supposed to increase sales of the physical products in the long run, then the assertion that a pdf subscruption will reduce overall demand becomes significantly less sustainable.


noretoc wrote:
hogarth wrote:
I would assume (at least I would hope!) that they also use historical game store orders (& returns?) to predict how much of a need there is for a particular product. So if game stores are selling fewer copies, that should cause them to print fewer copies as well.
This might be true if the PDF price was reduced permanently. It isn't for a random sale though.

I agree completely. But Paizo's comment to the store owner wasn't "You shouldn't complain when we have a once-in-a-blue-moon sale on our stuff", it was "Sales of (inexpensive) PDFs don't affect physical copy sales (significantly)", which I'm having trouble reconciling with their "Sales of (inexpensive) PDF subscriptions would affect physical copy sales (significantly)" position.

I agree that sale-priced items are an unrelated issue to "PDFs do/don't affect sales".

Grand Lodge

hogarth wrote:
noretoc wrote:
hogarth wrote:
I would assume (at least I would hope!) that they also use historical game store orders (& returns?) to predict how much of a need there is for a particular product. So if game stores are selling fewer copies, that should cause them to print fewer copies as well.
This might be true if the PDF price was reduced permanently. It isn't for a random sale though.

I agree completely. But Paizo's comment to the store owner wasn't "You shouldn't complain when we have a once-in-a-blue-moon sale on our stuff", it was "Sales of (inexpensive) PDFs don't affect physical copy sales (significantly)", which I'm having trouble reconciling with their "Sales of (inexpensive) PDF subscriptions would affect physical copy sales (significantly)" position.

I agree that sale-priced items are an unrelated issue.

And I am wondering why you see this is a conflict.

If the every day cost of PDFs was too low, hard copy versions of product would be less desirable.

Paizo wants to focus on print products. That includes novels and game items. If they can move enough print products, they can keep print costs low. and buy controling product costs, they can stay profitable.

PDFs are a secondary type of offering. They drive interest in the print products.


Herald wrote:

And I am wondering why you see this is a conflict.

If the every day cost of PDFs was too low, hard copy versions of product would be less desirable.

Paizo wants to focus on print products. That includes novels and game items. If they can move enough print products, they can keep print costs low. and buy controling product costs, they can stay profitable.

PDFs are a secondary type of offering. They drive interest in the print products.

That might well be true, but I still don't see why it wouldn't apply to both subscriptions and products in game stores. Some people are insisting that it applies to one and not the other.

Grand Lodge

Here is a counter proposal.

Perhaps there should be a registry of FLGS that carry Pathfinder products and maybe for a PDF run there could be a listing of those shops to tell you where you could get these products localy.

That would be alot easier than putting the burden on game shop owners to handle a PDF offer.

I'm only offering this up as counter proposal. I really don't care one way or the other. What money i don't spend on Pathfinder at the FLGS has now been converted into boardgame and comics purchaces. (I'm now hooked on B.P.R.D. and Shadows over Camelot)

Liberty's Edge

Herald wrote:
PDFs are a secondary type of offering. They drive interest in the print products.

They could be used to further drive print sales if they were offered (free or discounted) as a value added bonus for purchasing the hardcopy, even if it was at a FLGS. Too bad that's not the policy, 'cuz I bet it would work. :(

Grand Lodge

hogarth wrote:
Herald wrote:

And I am wondering why you see this is a conflict.

If the every day cost of PDFs was too low, hard copy versions of product would be less desirable.

Paizo wants to focus on print products. That includes novels and game items. If they can move enough print products, they can keep print costs low. and buy controling product costs, they can stay profitable.

PDFs are a secondary type of offering. They drive interest in the print products.

That might well be true, but I still don't see why it wouldn't apply to both subscriptions and products in game stores. Some people are insisting that it applies to one and not the other.

I think that is the nature for subscriptions in general. Not for just games. (Most) game stores allow you to look through the product before you buy. Subscription buyers are doing it sight unseen.

Those that offer subscriptions try and reward that behavior. It's about getting steady cash flow. If you needed to get a business loan, you could show that you have a type of cashflow by the number of subscriptions you have active. (Please realize that I am working in generalities here, I can't say how Paizo does things.)

It's also once again about controling costs. If x number of purchaces need to happen to keep a print product profitable, then having subscriptions involved in that is very desirable. And not just for paizo, for the FLGS too because they cost savings is passed along to them.

Grand Lodge

Xuttah wrote:
Herald wrote:
PDFs are a secondary type of offering. They drive interest in the print products.
They could be used to further drive print sales if they were offered (free or discounted) as a value added bonus for purchasing the hardcopy, even if it was at a FLGS. Too bad that's not the policy, 'cuz I bet it would work. :(

If there was a way to make it happen that was easy and cheap to all dealers than I agree, But (IMHO) the cost handle the distribution of PDFs in store would be crasy hard.

I don't think that codes in books is a good choice as that can be bad forthe vendor unless the product is shrink wrapped. And I hate those game products. And if the vendor has to take the book back in return, there is know whay to be sure that the PDF will be returned to the vendor to sell to the person who should rightfully get that.

Any solution that is placed in the book also has to be offered to major book sellers. I'm sure you have all seen things removed from books that had media attached in a Books a Million, Barnes and Noble or anyone else.

And what of the purchacer that gets cheeted out of a PDF because of a problem. You know the vendor is not going to eat that cost well. How many customers are going to be thrown over to Paizo's boards for assistance and really cheesed off?

I love, love , Love the FLGS. But if you polled them I seriously doubt they want to be in the middle of this type of distribution. Many of them don't even have high speed internet connections to offer the PDF that way.

To make this work it has to b simple and elegant.

Liberty's Edge

Herald wrote:
To make this work it has to b simple and elegant.

There are probably half dozen solutions to this problem out there; all thought out and developed by people far smarter than I. What really needs to be present, though, is the will to carry it through.

Grand Lodge

Xuttah wrote:
Herald wrote:
To make this work it has to b simple and elegant.
There are probably half dozen solutions to this problem out there; all thought out and developed by people far smarter than I. What really needs to be present, though, is the will to carry it through.

And on that I can agree with you 100%.

And just to be clear, if I wasn't before, while I think that book & PDF sales at B&M shops is too hard to do, doesn't mean that I am against it.

If enough B&M shops what to do digital sales, you can be sure that they will figure it out.


It's 6:15 am EST in North Carolina, I'm sitting in my jamas drinking coffee and just purchased the Magic Item Compendium (like new condition) from Amazon for $11.80 plus $3.95 shipping.
Now, from where I'm sitting and reading through this thread, I'd say that game store owners need to wake up and smell the coffee!
If they are not wise enough to figure out why their gaming sales are down...then maybe someone should clue them in.
It's not because you can get a cheap pdf - it's because you can get a print copy of the same book they are selling at cover price, for upwards of 75% off.
Money is the issue folks - it's always about money.

Liberty's Edge

hedgeknight wrote:

It's 6:15 am EST in North Carolina, I'm sitting in my jamas drinking coffee and just purchased the Magic Item Compendium (like new condition) from Amazon for $11.80 plus $3.95 shipping.

Now, from where I'm sitting and reading through this thread, I'd say that game store owners need to wake up and smell the coffee!
If they are not wise enough to figure out why their gaming sales are down...then maybe someone should clue them in.
It's not because you can get a cheap pdf - it's because you can get a print copy of the same book they are selling at cover price, for upwards of 75% off.
Money is the issue folks - it's always about money.

I agree. The problem is that your average hobby shop owner/manager is buying new, cased books from a distributor, and they're buying a max of a couple cases, say 24 books (and probably not that many, to be honest). They don't get anything approaching a 70% discount, or even a 50% discount, whether or not they're buying from Diamond, et al. or through a wholesale service. When my local shop in Fairbanks, for example, sells new RPG books at a 15% discount, they are only making around 20% profit on each book--and sometimes less than that when they're only stocking three or four copies (then they're hoping to attract you to the store so you'll buy other stuff). If it weren't for bulk shipments of multiple items (toys, cards, comics-comics-comics, and dice, and minis, and candy-candy-candy, etc.), they wouldn't be able to afford to offer any discount and still make enough for it to be worth the effort. Amazon is buying hundreds of cases, if not more. They're getting huge discounts, and doing the business of a thousand-thousand (hyperbole) hobby shops in a day, with very little relative overhead (they are completely online, remember). Amazon Marketplace sellers (I'm one) are usually reselling used and remaindered books. I've sold many a 3e PHB for $7 because I'm reselling a remaindered book for which I only paid $2. Your average small Hobby Shop simply cannot compete in the same way with new product.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
hogarth wrote:

I agree completely. But Paizo's comment to the store owner wasn't "You shouldn't complain when we have a once-in-a-blue-moon sale on our stuff", it was "Sales of (inexpensive) PDFs don't affect physical copy sales (significantly)", which I'm having trouble reconciling with their "Sales of (inexpensive) PDF subscriptions would affect physical copy sales (significantly)" position.

I agree that sale-priced items are an unrelated issue to "PDFs do/don't affect sales".

I'm sorry, but I am really not interested in discussing the way a phrase was said in this case. The thread was started because a store was complaining the sale contributes to them losing business to pdfs. Is that light. I was going off that theme when I replied to your post. Just to be clear again and keep things on topic, a subscription to PDFs only does compete with a printed run, but a sale of PDF already made does not really hurt the sale of printed material in a bookstore. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. :)


noretoc wrote:
Just to be clear again and keep things on topic, a subscription to PDFs only does compete with a printed run, but a sale of PDF already made does not really hurt the sale of printed material in a bookstore. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. :)

So I keep hearing. :)


hedgeknight wrote:

It's 6:15 am EST in North Carolina, I'm sitting in my jamas drinking coffee and just purchased the Magic Item Compendium (like new condition) from Amazon for $11.80 plus $3.95 shipping.

Now, from where I'm sitting and reading through this thread, I'd say that game store owners need to wake up and smell the coffee!
If they are not wise enough to figure out why their gaming sales are down...then maybe someone should clue them in.
It's not because you can get a cheap pdf - it's because you can get a print copy of the same book they are selling at cover price, for upwards of 75% off.
Money is the issue folks - it's always about money.

Yeah and if the store in question was Cosmic Castle in Greensboro, then even their attitude towards gaming would make money not much of an issue too but how the store treets all and any of its customers. They could have given stuff away and it would not have made me want to do business with them. (Same for Cerebral Hobbies.) NC doesn't have many, and very few (if any) decent gaming stores.

Also a few other things in your post are things that gaming stores cannot provide.

6:15 am you want to buy something, or even during lunch from work. You can't always get to a store, but any time of day the internet is open, has been for a while.

So the things internet offers over retial stores:

-lower price, sometimes meaning shipping less than retail.
-open 24 hours a day 365 days a year.
-no dress code, shop in your underwear if you want.
-bigger selection.
-carries out of print products.

a local gaming store has to offer a heck of a lot to compete with that, and if they can't match prices, then they have to be doing some serious, well, "sweet talking" customer to get them to come there.


J JOES wrote:


a local gaming store has to offer a heck of a lot to compete with that, and if they can't match prices, then they have to be doing some serious, well, "sweet talking" customer to get them to come there.

I love competition.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My FLGS offers online shop and there is also every month a new set of 3.5e stuff -65% from wotc and 3pp. Happy times.


KaeYoss wrote:
J JOES wrote:


a local gaming store has to offer a heck of a lot to compete with that, and if they can't match prices, then they have to be doing some serious, well, "sweet talking" customer to get them to come there.
I love competition.

Pardon my confusion, but not around here much unles something draws my attention to Paizo Products as things of late have, and this being the only decent place/forum to participate in RPG related discussion; but this is the second time you have quoted me, and the first i understand you were talking about Witt's comments in regards to PDF sales not me directly as the quoting here is a bit funny. As I don't know who you are, I am guessing the above means you are a gaming store owner?

I love your attitude as such, as competition is always good for the consumer, and lower prices, and better places are what would get me to come into a gaming store over another in the same area. Most times it only takes one, so long as the staff is not overly abusive.

Would it be to far asking what store where, you run if I am correct, since i don't know you around here; and if I am wrong, then maybe explain for me what you mean by loving competition? You are with Amazon, or a PDF publishers maybe?

I can't compete with you personally either way as I have no store. ;)

Thanks for any explanation where I may have failed to grasp what you mean here.


Dear God, somebody asked KaeYoss for an explanation...RUN!

Sovereign Court

Two things are clear after going through this thread

1) There is a lot of debate and or blatant hypocrisy about whether PDF sales actually help or hurt Print sales.

2) Local game stores have a hard time competing with virtually every other distribution channel. Plain and simple - they have higher overhead. That overhead goes toward space for us to game, building community and paying a staff that actually knows something about the products we are interested in. I believe there is little room to debate the fact that the local game store is important to the community.

Clearly Paizo understands and values their front line retail partners. Yet when legitimate ideas are suggested that would help support small retailers, they are summarily dismissed. Worse yet some of those same valued partners are accused of being thieves who don't have their customers best interests at heart.

In response to this statement: "But then the card would have to make it from paizo, to the distributor, to the FLGS without being lost"

Vic Wertz wrote:


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.

Is it me or is this response insulting to the local game store?

Any retailer who failed to reward the customer who came to their store and spent money on a print product (by giving them their free download certificate) would be stealing from the CUSTOMER and not Paizo. I don't think that is good business sense. Retail is tough enough, no sane intelligent business owner would insult the people who go out of their way to support their store.

That being said, even if some of the cards made it into hands that weren't the purchasers of the print versions, wouldn't that only help to BUILD interest in the product line and result in more sales somewhere else??? (this is the argument Paizo makes to support it's decision to sell PDF's at a discount)

Kevin Murphy had a great point that bears repeating:

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:

Well, that's why I was calling it the "perfume counter" model: not all stores have them, some run out, some products don't come with them, and sometimes clerks throw in some freebie leftover from a previous promotion.

I may miss my guess here, but I'm pretty sure that the companies send enough extra that that the clerks can all snag one for themselves as well if they want. But they're the incentive for paying full department store prices rather than going to discount perfume barn. ie. FLGS rather than Amazon.

Admittedly it's not a perfect solution, but it is a business model that's in place and apparently functioning at some level otherwise they wouldn't keep doing it.

Clearly this issue is not going away. On the day Pathfinder RPG releases, i plan to be running a game in my FLGS. I want to be there helping them sell a fat stack of books, and i will be buying the top book off of that stack. By doing so i will be supporting both my local game store and Paizo. I will also be cheating myself out of the free PDF i could have got by ordering direct from Paizo. This is the reward i get for trying to help the RPG community?

I urge Paizo to find a solution to this problem, even if it is not perfect. I am not about to quit supporting Paizo over this. But I do expect Paizo to show the small local game stores the same level of respect it shows its customers.


My gaming store is also my comic book store and it is in Wilmington, NC and it is a FANTASTIC store! One of the best I've been too, so my comments are only directed at it in part. They had a moving sale a few weeks ago and literally gave books away! Not only did I buy a truck load of comics for a quarter each (new comics overstock too!!!) but they were selling Pathfinder, 3.5 D&D, and other gaming systems at 50 - 80% off cover!
And really, this is nothing new for them. They offer weekly specials on comics and games all the time...er...every week! LOL! I love this store, but when it comes to brand spanking new product, even they cannot compete against some online competitors.


kitenerd wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:


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.

Is it me or is this response insulting to the local game store?

Any retailer who failed to reward the customer who came to their store and spent money on a print product (by giving them their free download certificate) would be stealing from the CUSTOMER and not Paizo. I don't think that is good business sense. Retail is tough enough, no sane intelligent business owner would insult the people who go...

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are quite a few store owners out there that would take any and every chance on promotion items to keep and sale at a later date, had the customer not know about the item in question. In particular I am remembering some events around a store owner with 10th edition magic wantin to keep some of the prizes to sell rather than give them out to people participating in the events and saying "well what do I get from running these events? I can't keep and sell any of the stuff?"

You and I and many others know that the thing the gaming store gets in the surge of customers surrounding the event and the boom in sales it brings, but the store owners that think this way and want to keep promotion items and such DO exist. Cards with some sort of PDF code will be treated no different by those store owners. This is a reason M:TG changed its policy and cracked down on store owners selling the prize support cards for Friday Night Magic and such, because they were making money off of things that should have been freely given to the consumer from the manufacturer for patronizing the store itself, as store events are the only way you can get them. As well as those by-the-brick offers and such for clix games, several owners would open packs for singles and send in the UPCs to collect the special figure to turn around and sale later, without giving the customers a chance to buy a whole brick and get the figure for free.

Sadly those types of store owners do exist, and thankfully the publishers know, and are looking for ways to remedy the problem with those types of stores, and make sure the customer actually gets what they paid for, and the incentive options that drove them to purchasing things from a local gaming store to begin with rather than going to Amazon or some place like that which does not offer these promotion items, and other "swag" for purchasing from a local store.

So Paizo and others are probably looking for the way that cuts out the option for the dishonest ones out there, while still allowing for consumers, and honest store owners to be able to continue sharing the games and patronage of each other rather than online avenues of purchasing products that could only hurt the gaming stores.

It doesn't mean every gaming store owner is dishonest, but there have been many over the years even prior to recent events that would take any promotional item for any hobby and the hobby store owner would find a way of turning a profit off something meant for the customer for supporting a store, rather than mail-order....years ago for many hobbies.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

A purely anecdotal story:

Recent events (and promotions) enticed me to check out some PDF material.
Found something that looked interesting for $4.95 (50% off) and bought a download.
After a few days of perusal, I decided I definitely wanted a hard copy.
Checked with the FLGS, not in stock. The print run has apparently been exhausted, and the publisher is not planning on reprinting material several years old now. (I did pick up some stuff while I was there... but that's another thread.)
So I do the dirty thing and check Amazon. Nope.
A more exhaustive internet search turns up a few copies, and I order one at a decent price.
Something about the purchase nags at me a little. A bit of deja-vu.
So I browse back to paizo and check around a bit, a stumble upon this thread (again).
Turns out my PDF-inspired hard copy purchase was made from Titan Games in Battle Creek, MI.
Which I just found amusing, considering the original post in this thread.

Cheers.

Contributor

J JOES wrote:
kitenerd wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:


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.

Is it me or is this response insulting to the local game store?

Any retailer who failed to reward the customer who came to their store and spent money on a print product (by giving them their free download certificate) would be stealing from the CUSTOMER and not Paizo. I don't think that is good business sense. Retail is tough enough, no sane intelligent business owner would insult the people who go...

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are quite a few store owners out there that would take any and every chance on promotion items to keep and sale at a later date, had the customer not know about the item in question. In particular I am remembering some events around a store owner with 10th edition magic wantin to keep some of the prizes to sell rather than give them out to people participating in the events and saying "well what do I get from running these events? I can't keep and sell any of the stuff?"

You and I and many others know that the thing the gaming store gets in the surge of customers surrounding the event and the boom in sales it brings, but the store owners that think this way and want to keep promotion items and such DO exist. Cards with some sort of PDF code will be treated no different by those store owners. This is a reason M:TG changed its policy and cracked down on store owners selling the prize support cards for Friday Night Magic and such, because they were...

Well, I think this is a reason to not have the "gift with purchase" be particularly unique or collectible. Like perfume.

You could possibly have the PDF code card require info on the store where you bought the item it came with, the name of that item, the price you paid, and the name of the clerk if you remember it. That might turn up dishonest shopkeepers.

That all said, given the ease with which people can get illegitimate copies of the PDFs, no one would pay much for an envelope that said something like THIS IS A GIFT WITH PURCHASE AND IS NOT PRICED FOR INDIVIDUAL SALE -- IF YOU PAID MONEY TO A SHOPKEEPER FOR THIS, HE'S A WEINER. PLEASE TELL US THE NAME OF THE SHOP IF SO. DITTO IF YOU GOT IT FROM SOME DUDE ON EBAY.


J JOES wrote:
As I don't know who you are, I am guessing the above means you are a gaming store owner?

No, I don't. I just love competition. It benefits me as a customer. Sometimes people do cut the wrong corners, but generally, it's a very positive thing, since people will actually try to get my money. Some will try it with low prices, some with a positive attitude, some with good service, some with product quality.

It's not always just about money, the rest is important, too. Though if you think you can just turn the Dollar prices into Euro 1:1, or even increase that price, you better have excellent service, like a hot, scantily-clad babe that reads the book to me in bed.

Those who don't compete, or don't want to compete, will fail. There's always someone willing to convince me that he does want my money.

For the record: I haven't ever gotten the offer with the lady and the reading, meaning several stores in the area won't see me buying books from them (because I think it would be more likely for them to provide the reader than to have decent prices).


kitenerd wrote:


2) Local game stores have a hard time competing with virtually every other distribution channel. Plain and simple - they have higher overhead. That overhead goes toward space for us to game, building community and paying a staff that actually knows something about the products we are interested in. I believe there is little room to debate the fact that the local game store is important to the community.

I managed for years without a really decent store. Some don't have the books I want, and thsoe who do demand ludicrous prices.

Many of those don't have gaming room, and those who do either have wargames or card games running.

Stores that actually have knowledgeable and friendly people, and provide room for roleplayers to play in are an asset, and I wouldn't have a problem paying a bit more for my books there.

But a lot of shops don't have any of this, and they still demand higher prices. Why should I pay those? What am I getting in return? A warm, fuzzy feeling that I overpayed for a good cause? Those amazon employees have families, too.

kitenerd wrote:


Clearly Paizo understands and values their front line retail partners. Yet when legitimate ideas are suggested that would help support small retailers, they are summarily dismissed. Worse yet some of those same valued partners are accused of being thieves who don't have their customers best interests at heart.

You're right. As I said, there are bad stores, but that doesn't excuse calling them all bad, or abandoning the good ones. Because those good ones really are a help to the hobby.

If they don't want to make an effort to support them, they can just come out and say so.

I'm sure there is a way for this to work.

kitenerd wrote:


Is it me or is this response insulting to the local game store?

I think it is. It's like saying "all 4e players are stupid sheep" or "all 3e players are retarded grognards who are afraid of change". Sure, it applies to some of them, but abandonging the rest because of that won't earn you any congeniality points.

Grand Lodge

In reespons to kitenerd.

(I'm not responding to you as an attack, just so you understand, I just think that your heart is in the right place, and I want to support FLGS too, but I can't agree with your arguement/position.)

PDF distribution with product from FLGS is not going to be a solution for anyone. Because Paizo sells to other businesses that FLGS.

Creating multiple products for different B&M businesses raises the cost of these lines.

Products going to FLGS would actually cost more. That doesn't help the FLGS.

Most FLGS shops perfer to keep ther products non-shrink wrapped, that's the only way to make sure that codes/coupons/ect are kept with the product prior to purchace. many people don't buy RPG publications with out the ability to puruse.

There is no way to be sure that if the publication is returned that the associated electronic document has been downloaded hasn't been downloaded, so if the book is returned to stock the next person who buys it doesn't get cheated. This is a problem for both publisher and vendor as they are both made to look bad if the customer can't get the full value of thier product.

A device seperate from the publication to be given out takes up room somewhere which means less room for products that sell. Someone suggested something like itunes gift cards couls be used. An interesting idea to be sure, but each card would have to be coded for a specific product. something that each vendor would have to keep track of. If the wrong card is given out, you could screw up two purchases. And once again, you are increasing the price of the product line. then there is the problem with shrinkage. Who is going to buy a product at full price if they know that the product is not whole? What does that say about a store if they constantly have to make down products because it's not whole?

Please understand, I bring up these points not really to be a appologist for Paizo. I come at this as someone who has has been involved in a family business that was a shop. Granted, not a FLGS, but a shp that catered to walk in customers that needed to have all of its floor space working for its profitability just the same.

Now maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there are enough FLGS out there that can make this work. If they are out there, then they need to speak up and they need to come up with the modle that will work for them. Because right now, they control how and what shows up in thier stores. There isn't anyone out there that is forcing WOTC or Paizo or White Wolf into their stores.

Liberty's Edge

The product code could be printed directly to the inside cover of the product, like a serial number of sorts. If they did that, there would be no need to make a separate item. Adding something like that does not require the participation of the seller, and the expense of printing one sequential number on the product is minimal.

Bearing the return and theft issues in mind, maybe it should be good for a discount on the pdf and some enhanced content. That way, it doesn't matter how many times the item is returned and resold, they still have to pay a nominal fee to access the digital bonus material.


One thing to consider is the customer who buys books AND PDFs due to issues with their eyesight. As I get older, my vision gets worse... While the new 4e books are easier for me to read than 3e and older books, I've become accustomed to reading the PDFs on my laptop while letting my players with better eyes use the books. which reduces clutter at the head of the table anyway. While not playing, I'll read the books with a good reading light and a grandpa magnifier.

So, I usually buy the books at my FLGS and download the PDFs as soon as they are available. I know amazon is cheaper, and that I can order Paizo stuff online, but I find more in a FLGS than price and wish to support a place that serves as a physical hub for our local gaming community.

I was annoyed that WotC killed the PDFs as such makes it LESS likely that I'll buy their books - I need both hard copy and PDF formats.

Grand Lodge

Xuttah wrote:

The product code could be printed directly to the inside cover of the product, like a serial number of sorts. If they did that, there would be no need to make a separate item. Adding something like that does not require the participation of the seller, and the expense of printing one sequential number on the product is minimal.

Bearing the return and theft issues in mind, maybe it should be good for a discount on the pdf and some enhanced content. That way, it doesn't matter how many times the item is returned and resold, they still have to pay a nominal fee to access the digital bonus material.

See my point about people opening the book and stealing the code. When the code becomes invalid for the user. Then the vendor and the publisher are made to look bad.

As for the second point, PDF is already sold at a discount at the Paizo web site. That is hardly going to seem like a benefit to the FLGS owner and customer. Are you suggesting a discount on top of the discount that customers are getting now? That would just treat customers without a FLGS as second class customers.

And as for bonus material, value added service needs to be done by the FLGS, not the publisher. They need to draw the customer to their store with good product, resonable prices, events, gamer support, and community outreach. (There could be more, but I can't think of all of it right now.)

Liberty's Edge

Herald wrote:


See my point about people opening the book and stealing the code. When the code becomes invalid for the user. Then the vendor and the publisher are made to look bad.

The code can remain active forever for all I care. If people have to pay for the extra material, there's a built in disincentive to steal the code. So what if it can be used again to purchase the same item again? So what if it's not sold at full price? All it costs is the bandwidth to download and Paizo still gets paid.

Herald wrote:
As for the second point, PDF is already sold at a discount at the Paizo web site. That is hardly going to seem like a benefit to the FLGS owner and customer. Are you suggesting a discount on top of the discount that customers are getting now? That would just treat customers without a FLGS as second class customers.

I am suggesting that the customer can purchase their hard copy at the FLGS (thus earning them their share), and then they can buy the PDF/enhanced content for a deep discount (like half off the cover price) from Paizo directly, using the SN# printed on the hardcopy. They still have to go through the store and pay for the product, but it's discounted. People who just want a pdf can buy it from the Paizo store at full pdf price. You can still buy the hardcopy from Paizo too and buy the pdf later using the SN# when you get the hard copy.

Herald wrote:
And as for bonus material, value added service needs to be done by the FLGS, not the publisher. They need to draw the customer to their store with good product, resonable prices, events, gamer support, and community outreach. (There could be more, but I can't think of all of it right now.)

Why? If the FLGS sells the product, then they make money. Paizo then picks up a few extra bucks on discounted PDF sales. Everyone makes money and the FLGS does not have to choose whether to participate in the system beyond deciding whether or not to carry Paizo products. The extra money generated on pdf sales can be poured directly into new products too, so more money can be made.

The Exchange

Xuttah wrote:

The product code could be printed directly to the inside cover of the product, like a serial number of sorts. If they did that, there would be no need to make a separate item. Adding something like that does not require the participation of the seller, and the expense of printing one sequential number on the product is minimal.

The trouble is people copying it down and then not buying the book.

At least having it on the cover should make it difficult for someone to physically rip it out and take it with them.

My idea would be to print a pattern on the inside of the book in addition to the code - lines, dots, colours whatever. On the page for that book at Paizo, you enter the code and it returns a PDF that you print. This has the other half of the unique pattern for that code. Putting the two together allows you to answer a question on the site that gets you your free PDF.

Example : a pattern of five horizontal dashed lines, one above the other and with varying lengths. The left hand part is printed in the book, the right hand in the downloaded PDF. The lines are different for each book and determined by the unique code number. The question is count the dashes in the longest line.

You would have to sketch the pattern printed in the book at exactly the right scale to be able to fool this. If the pattern were correctly designed a mobile phone photo of the book would not work because it would be the wrong scale.

Grand Lodge

Xuttah wrote:
Herald wrote:


See my point about people opening the book and stealing the code. When the code becomes invalid for the user. Then the vendor and the publisher are made to look bad.

The code can remain active forever for all I care. If people have to pay for the extra material, there's a built in disincentive to steal the code. So what if it can be used again to purchase the same item again? So what if it's not sold at full price? All it costs is the bandwidth to download and Paizo still gets paid.

Herald wrote:
As for the second point, PDF is already sold at a discount at the Paizo web site. That is hardly going to seem like a benefit to the FLGS owner and customer. Are you suggesting a discount on top of the discount that customers are getting now? That would just treat customers without a FLGS as second class customers.

I am suggesting that the customer can purchase their hard copy at the FLGS (thus earning them their share), and then they can buy the PDF/enhanced content for a deep discount (like half off the cover price) from Paizo directly, using the SN# printed on the hardcopy. They still have to go through the store and pay for the product, but it's discounted. People who just want a pdf can buy it from the Paizo store at full pdf price. You can still buy the hardcopy from Paizo too and buy the pdf later using the SN# when you get the hard copy.

Herald wrote:
And as for bonus material, value added service needs to be done by the FLGS, not the publisher. They need to draw the customer to their store with good product, resonable prices, events, gamer support, and community outreach. (There could be more, but I can't think of all of it right now.)
Why? If the FLGS sells the product, then they make money. Paizo then picks up a few extra bucks on discounted PDF sales. Everyone makes money and the FLGS does not have to choose whether to participate in the system beyond deciding whether or not to carry Paizo products. The extra money generated on pdf sales can be...

Sorry Xuttah,

I can see your point, but I don't see this as a good idea for Paizo. It would be an incentive to steal the code and then give it out to everyone they could so they could get a deep discounted PDF and never buy the book. Lose/lose for the vendor and publisher. Paizo gains a few bucks in the short term, but the vendor stops selling the hard copies cause he just can't get the sales he wants.

I can tell you're a good guy, but this opens up more problems then it solves. I have seen candy stores and groceries that have had the same problem with food. People just rip open the package to get the codes.

Liberty's Edge

Maybe I have more faith in human nature than most, then. :) People who are gonna steal are gonna do it anyways, no matter what kind of security you put up. It's just a matter of risk management and creating an incentive to become a paying customer.

At the very least, Paizo should offer a free/discounted copy of the digital version of any print books they sell at their store. They should have no problem controlling theft from their own in-house store.

Grand Lodge

brock wrote:
Xuttah wrote:

The product code could be printed directly to the inside cover of the product, like a serial number of sorts. If they did that, there would be no need to make a separate item. Adding something like that does not require the participation of the seller, and the expense of printing one sequential number on the product is minimal.

The trouble is people copying it down and then not buying the book.

At least having it on the cover should make it difficult for someone to physically rip it out and take it with them.

My idea would be to print a pattern on the inside of the book in addition to the code - lines, dots, colours whatever. On the page for that book at Paizo, you enter the code and it returns a PDF that you print. This has the other half of the unique pattern for that code. Putting the two together allows you to answer a question on the site that gets you your free PDF.

Example : a pattern of five horizontal dashed lines, one above the other and with varying lengths. The left hand part is printed in the book, the right hand in the downloaded PDF. The lines are different for each book and determined by the unique code number. The question is count the dashes in the longest line.

You would have to sketch the pattern printed in the book at exactly the right scale to be able to fool this. If the pattern were correctly designed a mobile phone photo of the book would not work because it would be the wrong scale.

Then you have a increased printing cost per book. I can only imagine the ammount of upset it will come when people start complaining about how they are paying more for to subsidize PDF downloadered optional purchace of a PDF. There are alrady complainets that they are not getting enough bang for their buck now.

And how much is it going to cost and maintain a server that performs such service? How much cost does Paizo have to inflict upon themselves to make vendor's lives easier?

I seriously doubt that the server required to decode this stuff would be worth the value of deeply discounted PDFs.

Once again, your hearts in the right place, but you haven't fully thought out the way this plays out.

Liberty's Edge

Herald wrote:

Once again, your hearts in the right place, but you haven't fully thought out the way this plays out.

It is a lot easier to find fault in someone else's suggestions than to bring forth your own. I'd really like to see what you consider a viable solution. :)


Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
J JOES wrote:

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are quite a few store owners out there that would take any and every chance on promotion items to keep and sale at a later date, had the customer not know about the item in question. In particular I am remembering some events around a store owner with 10th edition magic wantin to keep some of the prizes to sell rather than give them out to people participating in the events and saying "well what do I get from running these events? I can't keep and sell any of the stuff?"

You and I and many others know that the thing the gaming store gets in the surge of customers surrounding the event and the boom in sales it brings, but the store owners that think this way and want to keep promotion items and such DO exist. Cards with some sort of PDF code will be treated no different by those store owners. This is a reason M:TG changed its policy and cracked down on store owners selling the prize support cards for Friday Night Magic and such,...

Well, I think this is a reason to not have the "gift with purchase" be particularly unique or collectible. Like perfume.

You could possibly have the PDF code card require info on the store where you bought the item it came with, the name of that item, the price you paid, and the name of the clerk if you remember it. That might turn up dishonest shopkeepers.

That all said, given the ease with which people can get illegitimate copies of the PDFs, no one would pay much for an envelope that said something like THIS IS A GIFT WITH PURCHASE AND IS NOT PRICED FOR INDIVIDUAL SALE -- IF YOU PAID MONEY TO A SHOPKEEPER FOR THIS, HE'S A WEINER. PLEASE TELL US THE NAME OF THE SHOP IF SO. DITTO IF YOU GOT IT FROM SOME DUDE ON EBAY.

In the case of PDFs for books, there is a real easy way, the old fashioned way.

Each book has 16 page multiples for the signature or somesuch. Well have one of those pages be a mail in form to get your PDF file on CD from Paizo or wherever with a small S&H fee. Whatever that real cheap media mail cost is or metered, like AOL CDs used to be sent out en mass. Paizo mailed magazines so they know what that would take.

Or maybe something to send to Paizo for a discount directly on the PDF online.

Either way making it part of the book would mean the customer knows something is there for them, and if it is missing, they are buying a damaged book. Also if stores end up with lots of these forms torn out of books, then they have a bigger problem than PDFs or Amazon, because people coming into their stores are destroying their merchandise and stealing from them. Maybe it is even possible to have that page have a scratch off code in the book. If people are getting books with the scratch off portion scratched off, the the store has the same problem as someone damaging the stock of the store.

Trust me when I say people still DO sell items labeled not for individual sale, and you can see it often for cigarettes, and there is little to do to track these things happening, save for not going to those stores that would do it. All a dishonest store would have to do is remove it from the packaging and sell it to you open and claim it was a trade in item. :(

Those dishonest store owners are causing problems for all other stores, and forcing some sort of increase of prices across entire lines for companies to have to come up with some way for the honest ones and customers to get what they are owed as promotional items, or nothing at all. That has been hurting local stores for a long time more than PDFs.

There is just no way to stop the dishonest store owners except force them out of business and cripple the hobby. :(

Even gluing a CD in the book with a PDF on it some store owners would steal, but the customer would know to be weary of buying that book if it is priced as new. The only way I got a CD from 3rd was from Dragon Magazine that included it in the sealed bag. Same as other magazines include CDs. Paizo and others shouldn't have to delve into having CDs stamped for a single file since they have online stores, but seems the only way to put something in the hands of the customer from a sealed bag and no have local stores have to fuss with more extras like they get with comic books flyers and ads, etc.

So I think just a form on the last page of the book you can cut out and mail to Paizo including your e-mail address to somehow get the PDF or other electronic copy of the book, is about the only way to do it to make sure the customer gets it with the book, and reduce extra work for store owners and curtail the dishonest ones actions.....???

Grand Lodge

Xuttah wrote:
Herald wrote:

Once again, your hearts in the right place, but you haven't fully thought out the way this plays out.

It is a lot easier to find fault in someone else's suggestions than to bring forth your own. I'd really like to see what you consider a viable solution. :)

I thought I did in this tread, but maybe it dion't. You have a valid point.

I propose a FLGS registry. Game stores who want to participate register at a web site with their location and maybe a srot blurb about thier store. Paizo combines that information into a digital flier and includes them in all thier digital dowloads. Maybe every so often a store sends in a picture showing Pathfinder being played in thier store and that gets the store highlighted in the digtal publication. The publication could also be downloaded for free from Paizo directly with out purchace.

So the FLGS gets world wide exposure from each digital sale and Paizo's printing cost stays low. There is still a manpower cost to produce the FLGS electronic news letter, but I think that this outreach has value with little risk.

The Exchange

Herald wrote:


Once again, your hearts in the right place, but you haven't fully thought out the way this plays out.

Entirely true :)

A worthy Paizonian commented above that they did not know of a workable method for giving people who buy a book from a FLGS a free/discounted PDF.

I just used it as an excuse to design a system that would be robust against:


  • People tearing a voucher out of the book in the store - it's on the hard cover
  • Copying down an easy alphanumeric code in the store
  • Photography - room for extra cleverness there
  • Sharing a static code - it's unique
  • Not require active participation by store owners
  • Not require an extra item that could be 'lost' in shipping - scratchcards

If someone finds the idea of using a two-part pattern + serial number useful then fantastic, and I hereby waive any rights I have to the idea. If not, then I still got to do some fun mental twiddling while waiting for a compile to finish.

Liberty's Edge

Herald wrote:
I propose a FLGS registry.

While an interesting suggestion, I think it goes against the Vic's requirement that the solution not require participation from the vendor. This idea is based entirely on it.

I like the idea of promotion of the vendor from the supplier. Kinda like a trade magazine. Don't know if it solves the problem, though.

Grand Lodge

Xuttah wrote:
Herald wrote:
I propose a FLGS registry.

While an interesting suggestion, I think it goes against the Vic's requirement that the solution not require participation from the vendor. This idea is based entirely on it.

I like the idea of promotion of the vendor from the supplier. Kinda like a trade magazine. Don't know if it solves the problem, though.

It does go against what Vic said, but it is as close to as little work as possible. Tops, 15 minutes of work from them as I understand it for a repeating piece of ad work.

The problem as I see it is how do you get customers through your door. One solution is promotion/advertising. Plus it has the added bonus of the vendor incentive in the form of in store Pathfinder support. Win/win IMHO.

Contributor

J JOES wrote:


In the case of PDFs for books, there is a real easy way, the old fashioned way.

Each book has 16 page multiples for the signature or somesuch. Well have one of those pages be a mail in form to get your PDF file on CD from Paizo or wherever with a...

I think the old-fashioned mail-in form is a good idea, but should have two options in it:

A. Yes! Please email me my unique download code for the PDF of this product. (free)

B. Please email me the download code, but also send me a special adventure chapbook with a CD containing my PDF slipcased in back. CD also contains PDF of adventure chapbook content. (nominal fee + S&H)

Chapbooks are just about the right size to slipcase a CD, and would be just about the right size for a set piece, adventurelet, or maybe a couple of monsters or wondrous items.

I really liked the Call of Cthulhu adventure that I got as a mail-in with the hardback coupon all those years ago.

The page with the mail-in coupon would naturally also have the order form for some other products.


Xuttah wrote:
Herald wrote:

Once again, your hearts in the right place, but you haven't fully thought out the way this plays out.

It is a lot easier to find fault in someone else's suggestions than to bring forth your own. I'd really like to see what you consider a viable solution. :)

Never become a scientist. The Scientific Method will kill you. Actually, your collegues will kill you. But rest assured, your death will be interesting.

Liberty's Edge

KaeYoss wrote:


Never become a scientist. The Scientific Method will kill you. Actually, your collegues will kill you. But rest assured, your death will be interesting.

Hopefully it will be a sciency death. And not one of those boring sciences, either. They suck! :)


Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:

I think the old-fashioned mail-in form is a good idea, but should have two options in it:

A. Yes! Please email me my unique download code for the PDF of this product. (free)

B. Please email me the download code, but also send me a special adventure chapbook with a CD containing my PDF slipcased in back. CD also contains PDF of adventure chapbook content. (nominal fee + S&H)

Chapbooks are just about the right size to slipcase a CD, and would be just about the right size for a set piece, adventurelet, or maybe a couple of monsters or wondrous items.

I really liked the Call of Cthulhu adventure that I got as a mail-in with the hardback coupon all those years ago.

The page with the mail-in coupon would naturally also have the order form for some other products.

Of course, and the dislamier "No additional purchase necessary to receive your free PDF/electronic copy." But also maybe give details about Paizo subscriptions, and maybe a one-time discount of say $5 off anything purchased along with this form for the free copy of the PDF. Another disclaimer of course would be required: "Copies of this form are not valid for the discount or for the free PDF, but may be used to purchase other merchandise."

Or something like that, and have a like watermark on the page itself under the text, than when photocopied or scanned will reveal in big black and dark ink when printed that the page was copied and is not actually taken out of a book.

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