How about a digital-only subscription?


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I don't know how people will feel about this idea but I, for one, would be very interested in a digital-only subscription. Even if it were full price, but came with the early PDF access that current subscribers have, I would subscribe to most of the product lines in a heartbeat.

I don't think it would take away from the current hardcover subscription list, because I doubt there's many people who're paying for a full subscription just to get a PDF two weeks early. There may be one or two, but overall I doubt it will have impact. It will, however, likely get new subscribers, which is good, because Paizo has repeatedly noted that they use subscription income to run their business (since it's reliably stable in ways that retail sales are not).

Thoughts?


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Vic Wertz on why Paizo has no plans to offer a PDF-only subscription


Well, balls.


Paizo seems to be full of people who love books-as-objects. They seem to judge their success by "how many hardcopies can we sell?". True, they make things available as PDFs, and all credit to them for that, but it seems to be as an afterthought - the PDFs are not flexible, optimized for tablets, available in 'art-lite' formats etc. Basically they are electronic versions of the books.

(The PDF of the volumes has the text in columns! Columns, damnit! I have to scroll up and down the damn page to read it!)

Paizo's product is really content, and the books simply a delivery mechanism for that content. But they won't see this.

Hopefully one day Paizo will cater to their customers who wish to buy their product, but have no desire to have it printed on dead trees.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Paizo takes great pride in the appearance of their products. Alternate layout PDFs (such as column-free or art-light) would require a repeat of the layout, art design, and text-fitting process. It is not worth the effort.

Also, if you actually read the link to what Vic wrote, a PDF subscription would not change the subscribers life very much, but there is a very real, economic reason to count 'how many hardcopies they can sell'.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
waynemarkstubbs wrote:

Paizo seems to be full of people who love books-as-objects. They seem to judge their success by "how many hardcopies can we sell?". True, they make things available as PDFs, and all credit to them for that, but it seems to be as an afterthought - the PDFs are not flexible, optimized for tablets, available in 'art-lite' formats etc. Basically they are electronic versions of the books.

(The PDF of the volumes has the text in columns! Columns, damnit! I have to scroll up and down the damn page to read it!)

Paizo's product is really content, and the books simply a delivery mechanism for that content. But they won't see this.

Hopefully one day Paizo will cater to their customers who wish to buy their product, but have no desire to have it printed on dead trees.

I kind of take issue with this attitude. Well produced, beautiful printed books are very preferable to a great many people. The whole 'dead tree' thing is a little pompous and self-righteous, to be honest (I know that comes of as antagonistic, and I apologize - it just really gets to me) I think most people still very much want and prefer a physical book they can hold in their hands, turn actual pages etc instead of stare at yet another computer screen - Lord knows we do enough staring at computer screens day in and day out!

Printing is a time-honored tradition that is not going away just because we can now offer products in digital format as well. I wish people would stop painting printed books as some sort of bad thing (which the whole dead tree phrase does).

And, as Ross very correctly points out, creating alternate layout PDFs (such as column-free or art-light) would require a repeat of the layout, art design, and text-fitting process. It really is just not worth the effort OR the risk of negative economic impact Vic lays out all to well in his post.


A lot of people would quite likely drop their hardcopy subs and go to pdf-only if it were offered. Probably not the majority, but enough to hurt the bottom line. I think Paizo thinks that not enough people who currently do not subscribe would do so to make up the difference.


Quote:
Well produced, beautiful printed books are very preferable to a great many people.

This is true. And well formatted, flexible, accessible electronic texts are preferable to a great many other people. Neither format is inherently 'right' or superior. It depends what you want.

The whole 'dead tree' thing is intended to remind people that book != text. A book is simply one mechanism for delivering a text. Electronic is another. If you are a content creator, then you can deliver your texts to your customers in a variety of ways.

I don't think electronic texts are superior in any way. It just irks me that there are plenty of people who think that books *are* superior.


Quote:
A lot of people would quite likely drop their hardcopy subs and go to pdf-only if it were offered.

(sorry for double post)

If this is true (and I suspect it is) then it tells you something. It tells you that a lot of people would prefer electronic formats to books.

Selling your customers what you want them to have, rather than what they want to have, is not a good long term strategy.


I've made this point before, but I still think it's weird that the cheapest way for me to get a PDF copy (and only a PDF copy) of every installment of Reign of Winter (say) is:

  • First, the physical copies are printed in the People's Republic of China.
  • Next, those copies are shipped to the United States.
  • Next, those copies are shipped to an Amazon.com distributor and then shipped to an Amazon.ca warehouse in Canada.
  • Next, I order the copies from Amazon.ca and they get delivered to my house.
  • Next, I scan each of the copies into PDF format using my computer scanner at home.
  • Finally, I take the physical copies and throw them in the garbage.

There has to be some way to cut a step out of that process somewhere...*

--

*Yes, I know that Paizo cannot be held accountable for Amazon's policy of selling things at a loss. It still seems weird, though.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
hogarth wrote:

I've made this point before, but I still think it's weird that the cheapest way for me to get a PDF copy (and only a PDF copy) of every installment of Reign of Winter (say) is:

  • First, the physical copies are printed in the People's Republic of China.
  • Next, those copies are shipped to the United States.
  • Next, those copies are shipped to an Amazon.com distributor and then shipped to an Amazon.ca warehouse in Canada.
  • Next, I order the copies from Amazon.ca and they get delivered to my house.
  • Next, I scan each of the copies into PDF format using my computer scanner at home.
  • Finally, I take the physical copies and throw them in the garbage.

There has to be some way to cut a step out of that process somewhere...*

--

*Yes, I know that Paizo cannot be held accountable for Amazon's policy of selling things at a loss. It still seems weird, though.

Did you calculate the $ value of the hours you spend scanning and OCR'ing the stuff? :)

Liberty's Edge

hogarth wrote:

I've made this point before, but I still think it's weird that the cheapest way for me to get a PDF copy (and only a PDF copy) of every installment of Reign of Winter (say) is:

  • First, the physical copies are printed in the People's Republic of China.
  • Next, those copies are shipped to the United States.
  • Next, those copies are shipped to an Amazon.com distributor and then shipped to an Amazon.ca warehouse in Canada.
  • Next, I order the copies from Amazon.ca and they get delivered to my house.
  • Next, I scan each of the copies into PDF format using my computer scanner at home.
  • Finally, I take the physical copies and throw them in the garbage.

There has to be some way to cut a step out of that process somewhere...*

--

*Yes, I know that Paizo cannot be held accountable for Amazon's policy of selling things at a loss. It still seems weird, though.

Was that last part a bit of sarcasm or do you actually take the physical copies and throw them in the garbage?

Heck, if you are going to go to that extent, why not just subscribe through Paizo? You get actual bookmarked PDFs much sooner. To offset the additional cost of shipping the physical books to you, sell 'em on Ebay instead of throw 'em away! You probably will even make a small profit ;)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

2 people marked this as a favorite.
waynemarkstubbs wrote:
Selling your customers what you want them to have, rather than what they want to have, is not a good long term strategy.

This is a falsehood. What customers want is everything, immediately, for free. Everything else is negotiation.

All you're doing is reformulating 'the customer is always right', which is also not true. Please read what Vic said at the link. It lays out, in very plain English, why PDF subs are not going to happen and what could happen to Paizo if they did.

In short, making a product line less profitable is not a good long term strategy.

Are you familiar with the opinions of Henry Ford regarding the color black?

Liberty's Edge

Ross Byers wrote:
Are you familiar with the opinions of Henry Ford regarding the color black?

You can have the car in any color you like ... as long as it's black!

Pink Floyd even named a song 'Any Color Your Like' in homage to this (or, more accurately, they named the song in homage to their sound engineer or someone who used to respond to the Floyd's constant questions of "can we get some cool, way out sound effect" with Ford's saying "sure, you can have it any color you like" :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Marc Radle wrote:
hogarth wrote:

I've made this point before, but I still think it's weird that the cheapest way for me to get a PDF copy (and only a PDF copy) of every installment of Reign of Winter (say) is:

  • First, the physical copies are printed in the People's Republic of China.
  • Next, those copies are shipped to the United States.
  • Next, those copies are shipped to an Amazon.com distributor and then shipped to an Amazon.ca warehouse in Canada.
  • Next, I order the copies from Amazon.ca and they get delivered to my house.
  • Next, I scan each of the copies into PDF format using my computer scanner at home.
  • Finally, I take the physical copies and throw them in the garbage.

There has to be some way to cut a step out of that process somewhere...*

--

*Yes, I know that Paizo cannot be held accountable for Amazon's policy of selling things at a loss. It still seems weird, though.

Was that last part a bit of sarcasm or do you actually take the physical copies and throw them in the garbage?

Heck, if you are going to go to that extent, why not just subscribe through Paizo? You get actual bookmarked PDFs much sooner. To offset the additional cost of shipping the physical books to you, sell 'em on Ebay instead of throw 'em away! You probably will even make a small profit ;)

Wouldn't the discount you get on every other product you buy from Paizo by suscribing to the AP line not already offset the small advantage buying the AP modules from Amazon gives you?

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
waynemarkstubbs wrote:

... the PDFs are not flexible, optimized for tablets, available in 'art-lite' formats etc. Basically they are electronic versions of the books.

(The PDF of the volumes has the text in columns! Columns, damnit! I have to scroll up and down the damn page to read it!)

So what you is a wall of text? No thanks.

waynemarkstubbs wrote:
Paizo's product is really content, and the books simply a delivery mechanism for that content. But they won't see this.

It's a matter of perspective. You see Paizo as a content generator that also publishes books. They seem to see themselves as a publisher that also produce awesome content.

-Skeld


Marc Radle wrote:
Was that last part a bit of sarcasm or do you actually take the physical copies and throw them in the garbage?

The whole thing was just humourous hyperbole (although it is true that buying an extremely well-traveled book is cheaper than buying the PDF). Obviously I should use more smilies in the future.

:-) <-- See?

Marc Radle wrote:
Heck, if you are going to go to that extent, why not just subscribe through Paizo? You get actual bookmarked PDFs much sooner. To offset the additional cost of shipping the physical books to you, sell 'em on Ebay instead of throw 'em away!

Yes, it would be cheaper to subscribe and re-sell the books (assuming I could re-sell for a reasonable amount), although maybe not as much as you might think, considering the cost of shipping to Canada.


Paladin of Baha-who? wrote:
A lot of people would quite likely drop their hardcopy subs and go to pdf-only if it were offered. Probably not the majority, but enough to hurt the bottom line. I think Paizo thinks that not enough people who currently do not subscribe would do so to make up the difference.

Let's assume, for the moment, that there are two types of people with subscriptions: People who subscribe because they want the hardcopy and perhaps the other benefits of subscription, and people who subscribe strictly because they want early access and wish they didn't have to get the hardcopy.

I don't think, in this economy, that there are a whole lot of the second type.

I am certainly not one of them. The price difference between the hardcopy and the PDF vastly exceeds the value I place on early access, as evidenced by the fact that I'm not a subscriber.

While a few subscribers might switch to the digital-only subscription, I don't think they'd defect in droves.

On the other hand, I don't have the intimate knowledge of the subscriber base that Vic does. Maybe he's gotten the mentioned feedback from some huge portion of subscribers. I can't say.

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I'm one of the subscribers who'd go all (or mostly) digital if it was an option. Honestly, I'd drop physical copies of everything but the hardbacks if I could. Well, that and the AP to keep my Charter status. It's more a storage issue than anything else. The physical copies/dead tree versions are getting less and less use for me every year and the number of them that I have just keeps adding up and up. The PDFs sit on my hard drive and go to my phone, tablet, and/or laptop as needed for gaming.

The physical copies are a nicety, not a necessity, and when my budget was tight, it was pretty hard to keep committing to the orders every month.


I love having the physical copies, and wouldn't be without them. I also love having the PDFs for the convenience, as I tend to run all my games off my laptop these days - plus, I can markup and make notes in my PDF without damaging the gorgeous hard copy.

And I honestly don't see what people are complaining about regarding the layout of the PDFs. I have about twenty Paizo books on my iPad at the moment, and they're as easy to read as an iBook in my opinion...

Liberty's Edge

Starfinder Superscriber
Kvantum wrote:

I'm one of the subscribers who'd go all (or mostly) digital if it was an option. Honestly, I'd drop physical copies of everything but the hardbacks if I could. Well, that and the AP to keep my Charter status. It's more a storage issue than anything else. The physical copies/dead tree versions are getting less and less use for me every year and the number of them that I have just keeps adding up and up. The PDFs sit on my hard drive and go to my phone, tablet, and/or laptop as needed for gaming.

The physical copies are a nicety, not a necessity, and when my budget was tight, it was pretty hard to keep committing to the orders every month.

Why do you continue subscribing, then? Just buy the PDFs as they come out. If you keep your hardcopy AP subscription, then you will get exactly the same discount on the PDFs that you get with your subscription.

As Vic pointed out in the message posted in the second reply of this thread, you have to visit the Paizo site anyway to download your PDFs. As such, you aren't even saving "going to the site each month" by having a subscription. If what you want is only PDFs of the products, you can do that right now.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
rknop wrote:
Kvantum wrote:

I'm one of the subscribers who'd go all (or mostly) digital if it was an option. Honestly, I'd drop physical copies of everything but the hardbacks if I could. Well, that and the AP to keep my Charter status. It's more a storage issue than anything else. The physical copies/dead tree versions are getting less and less use for me every year and the number of them that I have just keeps adding up and up. The PDFs sit on my hard drive and go to my phone, tablet, and/or laptop as needed for gaming.

The physical copies are a nicety, not a necessity, and when my budget was tight, it was pretty hard to keep committing to the orders every month.

Why do you continue subscribing, then? Just buy the PDFs as they come out. If you keep your hardcopy AP subscription, then you will get exactly the same discount on the PDFs that you get with your subscription.

As Vic pointed out in the message posted in the second reply of this thread, you have to visit the Paizo site anyway to download your PDFs. As such, you aren't even saving "going to the site each month" by having a subscription. If what you want is only PDFs of the products, you can do that right now.

This is what I've done, and it works pretty well.

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I didn't mean that I have no use for physical copies, but they just aren't the draw they once were.


I'm keeping my physical copies up for when the (zombie/nuclear/contagion/chemical/alien/impact) apocalypse comes and we're without power.

Then we can still play Pathfinder by candlelight in the twilight of the world...

:P :)

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