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General Forge Forums => Publishing => Topic started by: Michael S. Miller on April 17, 2006, 08:49:06 AM

Title: Books in retail stores--Buy now or buy later?
Post by: Michael S. Miller on April 17, 2006, 08:49:06 AM
Over in a WGP... Actual Play thread (, the ever-inciteful John Kim asked the following:

One thing that I sometimes feel funny about -- if the store only has one copy of some little indie game, is it better to buy it (thus sending the signal to the game store that it sells) or leave it for other people to browse (on the principle that the store might not get a new copy anyway for a while)? 

My instinct is to say "A sale is a sale, so buy it if you want it." But that's based on nothing by my own gut instincts. How would other publishers answer John's question?

Title: Re: Books in retail stores--Buy now or buy later?
Post by: Paul Czege on April 17, 2006, 08:55:13 AM
...the ever-inciteful John Kim asked the following

Was that a Freudian slip, Michael?


Title: Re: Books in retail stores--Buy now or buy later?
Post by: Michael S. Miller on April 17, 2006, 11:06:03 AM
Was that a Freudian slip, Michael?

I meant ever-insightful. Work is hell. If anything is inciting me these days, it's my day job, not anybody online.

But, you've thrown your hat into the ring! What's your adivce for someone facing John's choise?

Title: Re: Books in retail stores--Buy now or buy later?
Post by: Luke on April 17, 2006, 11:47:23 AM
Purchasing a single copy of a game is not incentive for a retailer to reorder it. If you like a game and you like your retailer, you should buy it at your retail store and tell the retailer how much you like the game and why you bought it. You should then encourage your friends to go and purchase the game at the retailer. If the retailer doesn't have the game, then your friends should inquire as to when it will be available. Your friends (and you) should never take no for an answer.

If you like to support small press game publishers, you should order their games directly from their websites and then play the games with your friends -- encourage your friends to order direct as well.


Title: Re: Books in retail stores--Buy now or buy later?
Post by: Josh Roby on April 17, 2006, 12:07:53 PM
What Luke said.

Title: Re: Books in retail stores--Buy now or buy later?
Post by: Brennan Taylor on April 18, 2006, 10:46:09 AM
Regarding the stores that order from IPR: once I get an initial order, I almost always get follow-up orders, often of a wider selection. If you want a game and see it in your retail shop, go ahead and buy it. I just got a comment from a second-time ordering retailer saying that these little indie games have gained quite a following since he stocked them. What I told him is that they already have a following, but these fans haven't been able to get them in his store before now.

All that said, if you really want to support the publisher, buy it direct. The author gets more money that way.

Title: Re: Books in retail stores--Buy now or buy later?
Post by: Clyde L. Rhoer on April 18, 2006, 04:50:42 PM
Hi Michael,

Here's a story from my local area. A friend of mine started a website to support Indie games both the playing and creation of in our local Madison, Wisconsin area. ( Indie Gaming Underground ( ) He also was working with one of our local gaming stores to get in some Indie games, and in addition to add encouragement he was taking 6 to 8 hours every Sunday to run basically any Indie game that's been created, he has a lot, to try to generate sales for those games for the store.

The store took awhile in ordering some Indie games, and to my knowledge everything they ordered was purchased in a week. From what I understand the store never restocked. I personally spent like a hundred bucks the day I went in. I was hoping I could get my games without doing mail order as I dislike mailorder and I dislike PDF's. As much as people are complaining about brick and mortar stores going under, you have to wonder why they don't grab at a life preserver when it's thrown to them. I have no incentive to make the trip across town to deal with special ordering a book from a store when I can keep my fat butt right here in my chair and have the game sent to my mailbox, so they don't get to see anymore of my cash. Plus they have gained some of my bitterness at my dashed hope of having easily available Indie games. I don't care very much about Traditional games anymore, and haven't since everyone decided to generic-ize themselves via d20.

So what does that have to do with your question? Does your game store support Indie games well? If so buy the book and lavish praise upon it and run some demos in the store. If not leave it on the shelf to advertise the game to other people, and mail order your own version.

Title: Re: Books in retail stores--Buy now or buy later?
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 18, 2006, 06:10:04 PM

It's good to read so many sensible replies in this thread. I went through this same issue about 15 years ago regarding small-press comics. I found that many of the creators were actually pretty confused and didn't know what to tell me when I asked this same question.

Now, I realize what they should have told me, and what I can now tell you with a great deal of confidence and clarity. It's based on two simple steps which must be done in order.

1. You decide whether you really want this game. If the answer is "yes," then

2. You decide whether you like and support this particular retailer.

If the answer to #2 is yes, then buy the game at that store, paying attention to some of the points above like Luke's and Clyde's. But if the answer is no, then screw it - do not patronize the store in some misguided attempt to "save the hobby" or for any other reason.

A yes-yes response is great, and also has the benefit of being simple. No, you're not taking money away from the publisher by doing it, because you're helping the shared culture of independent role-playing, especially if you follow up with the interactions people are describing. You, the retailer, the publisher, other publishers, and other role-players are all benefiting in a unique way that relies on every single part.

A yes-no response is the key point, though - it rests on the crucial understanding that you have no obligation at all to a retailer you don't like or don't want to support. You aren't "helping the hobby" or "helping indie games" or anything by giving money of any kind, to any amount, to such a person.

In this day and age, the hobby doesn't need retailers to exist, commercially. So a retailer who doesn't re-order titles, who doesn't pay attention to meaningful business cycles for the product, who doesn't respect the customers, and who blows smoke up your ass about who's out of stock or who's out of business, can eat my stinky shorts. But retailers who like and understand our work, and who also understand that publishers like Adept Press or Burning Wheel make good clients - and we don't lie, by claiming our games will suddenly be fads, either! - are not just add-ons, they're friends and good business associates.

So the yes-yes vs. the yes-no choice is a solid one. Go for it, and rest assured that you're strikin' a solid blow as long as you're honest with yourself about the answer.

Best, Ron