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Author Topic: The Flower of Battle Update  (Read 9345 times)
Dain
Member

Posts: 125


« Reply #15 on: July 30, 2004, 01:37:20 PM »

*grin*...We're not dwindling...we're just not buying. Acrobat sucks, and the last thing in the world I need is 200 loose pages without a binding getting crumpled up in my gaming totes. Going PDF may get you a large number of buyers, but I personally (and everyone I'VE talked to so far save one person) wouldn't buy a PDF version if it had the ultimate gaming system ever devised on it, so you're missing a ton of sales if you don't offer a bound version as well. It's not that the books are more pretty and stroke our ego's better, it's that they hold up better under wear and tear, and give the players a sense that the designers are professional, have credibility, and are intending to stick around for a while. PDF's just don't give you that warm fuzzy feeling a bound book does.

On the flip side, I recognize and understand that a lot of gamers like the loose leaf concept because:
1. it's cheaper
2. it's more easily updated by ripping a page out of your 3 ring binder and replacing it with the corrected page.

Basically, I'm saying both formats have their own attractions, and separate audiences. Boycott one version and you lose that entire audience (obviously with some small percentage of overlap exceptions).

Just my 2 cents...and my observations may be regional and not reflective of the world market.

Oh, and Acrobat sucks. I know I already said that, but it bears repeating.
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Ian.Plumb
Member

Posts: 141


« Reply #16 on: July 30, 2004, 03:55:44 PM »

Hi,

Quote from: Dain
Acrobat sucks, and the last thing in the world I need is 200 loose pages without a binding getting crumpled up in my gaming notes. Going PDF may get you a large number of buyers, but I personally (and everyone I'VE talked to so far save one person) wouldn't buy a PDF ...(SNIP)

On the flip side, I recognize and understand that a lot of gamers like the loose leaf concept because:
1. it's cheaper
2. it's more easily updated by ripping a page out of your 3 ring binder and replacing it with the corrected page.


From my perspective as a would-be small publisher this is why PDF rocks:

Paper product in the customer's hands bought through a gaming shop follows the 40/20/40 rule. That is, of the money handed over by the customer, the retailer keeps 40%, the distributor keeps 20%, and the publisher receives 40%. Out of my 40% I pay all costs associated with creating the product -- printing, licensing (say I'm producing a product for TRoS under license), layout, editing, artwork, and so on. If my product sells for $20 and I sell 1,000 copies I'll receive about $8,000 -- and be lucky to break even.

PDF is a whole different ballgame. You mentioned that it is cheaper and it is easier to update. Here are the advantages that I see from a publisher's perspective.

Complete freedom to revise the PDF and redistribute after the initial publication. There are many reasons why you might want to revise the text after the initial pubication. Initial versions of products almost always have mistakes in them. New research might need to be added to the text. Feedback from players and their great ideas might lead to a revision of the text. With PDF the text can be revised at will and the PDF re-released. The customer can then be informed that a new version of the PDF is available and the changes can be listed. The customer can then decide whether they want to download the new version or not.

Linked applications. For our products we link CC2 maps to the PDF. Thus the CC2 map becomes a visual index into the PDF. You open the CC2 map of France. You drill down to the Lyonnais, then the map of the city of Lyon. You select a building on the city map -- up comes the CC2 floorplan and the PDF opens to the page with the description of the building. You move around the floorplan to a room where an NPC's name is listed. Select the name label and the PDF jumps to the page with the NPC's bio and stats. Books are linear -- they give you one shot at presenting the information in a sequence that the reader will find logical and easy to absorb and use in-game. The CC2/PDF approach allows readers who are more visually-orientated to access the material in a manner that is logical to each individual.

Separation of costs. Here is the cost of the PDF. This is the cost of accessing the intellectual property contained in the product. Here is the cost of the paper copy. It is the cost of the PDF plus the cost of Print on Demand publication plus the cost of handling, packaging, and postage. The customer can see exactly what they are paying for.

Storage. My house isn't filled with boxes containing hundreds of copies of old products that never got sold or were returned by the Distributor.

And you'll never see your product in the Bargain Bin of a game store. ; ^ )

Cheers,
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Dain
Member

Posts: 125


« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2004, 09:01:48 PM »

Hey Ian,

Yes, as a publisher, any redistributable file is a total win. Once you make the prototype, no further cost of production is incurred. Every download you sell after you meet your initial costs is pure profit (split amoung all the people who have a hand out for a share)...forever. I fully agree it is a completely attractive idea to people on that end of the business...no argument whatsoever.

Likewise, there agreeably are a ton of customers out there that prefer that kind of distribution as well...no argument there either, and I'm glad they have that option.

Nonetheless, when I'm packing a bag to head off to a game, I don't want to have to drag 200 8 1/2 by 11 sheets of paper that are bulky, ugly, easily damaged, and measure almost 2 inches thick by the time they go in a binder or something...multiplied by X books. For a one book system with 5 supplements, that's a full foot thick of junk I'd have to haul around, and it would weigh a rediculous amount (no, I don't drag a notebook to games, and neither does anyone I have ever met, so leaving it in PDF format is not an option...especially since Acrobat is...well I'll get to that a little later). If that stuff was all in a bound version, it would be sturdy, weigh practically nothing, and would only be about 4 inches thick...leaving room for dice, paper, etc,...in the bag. It's a convenience thing. Yes, on your end it's painful to deal with a hardback, but on my end the PDF is painful to the point of unusability, which is why I'll never buy one.

Actually my problem isn't so much with electronic file versions as it is with Acrobat itself...if it were just about ANY other format in the world, I'd probably be more open minded about it. As a programmer in the Medical Billing business, an industry glutted with specs and data, everyone tries to send me stuff in PDF format. Acrobat is painfully clumbsy, takes forever to load, pages poorly, is not editable (unless you lay out 3/4ths of a grand to buy the editing package), does not save well to a text file so you CAN edit it (the formatting gets all messed up, with paragraphs re-arranging themselves and with headers and footers placing themselves seemingly randomly, etc,.... Not all PDF's save that poorly so it must be a function of how often the PDF was edited and in what order...still it's a royal pain), fails searches when someone entered text as an image instead of text in order to make it prettier (which is more often than you would think), and can't be read by anything other than Acrobat reader...which is so clumbsy to begin with that it makes my life a nightmere waiting for it's "paint" to catch up as I try to quickly page down to the info I want to see, even with the latest version. I do not stand corrected...Acrobat sucks.

Still, I fully understand and acknowlege your position, your points are well made, and I wish you nothing but success. Nonetheless, I still will never purchase a PDF anything...and like I said before, I've only met one person thus far who said they would consider it...but that probably is a regional thing, otherwise we wouldn't even be having this discussion because there wouldn't be PDF's versions distributions out there to be discussing.

I think there's room for both options in the market. Most people willing to lay out 30 to 40 dollars or more for a single book are probably going to actually be motivated by the financial investment to actually try to run the system and in the process generate more players which in turn generate more income as they too need the books. People are more likely to shrug and write a PDF off as just a few dollars wasted if it only cost a handful of dollars to begin with...no real massive financial investment to motivate them to really put in an effort to make a go of it.

As another issue, books are hard to pirate...takes a ton of patience with a scanner or photocopier...but PDF's are already in easily abused format. You're losing a significant percentage of your potential customer base from people who buy one copy and email it to all their friends and/or burn copies for all their friends...tough to do that with a book...takes literally seconds with a PDF...and anyone thinking only a few bad apples would do it is fooling themselves....badly.

Enough beating my point to death. I wishes you nothing but wealth, happiness, and success, and may none of your customers be as anti-Acrobat as me.

Cheers right back at you!
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Ian.Plumb
Member

Posts: 141


« Reply #18 on: July 30, 2004, 11:05:36 PM »

Hi,

Quote from: Dain
Yes, as a publisher, any redistributable file is a total win. Once you make the prototype, no further cost of production is incurred. Every download you sell after you meet your initial costs is pure profit


This is basically true if the PDF never changes. However, if the PDF never changes then one of the big advantages of PDF over hardcopy is lost. With hardcopy, everyone -- publisher, distributor, retailer -- all have a vested interest in the text never changing. With PDF text revision can occur with a far lower production cost than the original product.

Quote from: Dain
Nonetheless, when I'm packing a bag to head off to a game, I don't want to have to drag 200 8 1/2 by 11 sheets of paper that are bulky, ugly, easily damaged, and measure almost 2 inches thick by the time they go in a binder or something...(SNIP)


Would you ignore the product entirely unless it were available at a game store? Or would you opt for the Print on Demand (PoD) version of the product, as opposed to the PDF version?

If you opted for the PoD version, would you be OK with the idea that subsequent revisions to the product would only be available as PDF? Or would you simply ignore updates to the product if they were only available as PDF?

Quote from: Dain
...on your end it's painful to deal with a hardback, but on my end the PDF is painful to the point of unusability, which is why I'll never buy one.


From my perspective the issue isn't between hardcopy/softcopy but rather between traditional distribution and internet distribution.

Quote from: Dain
Actually my problem isn't so much with electronic file versions as it is with Acrobat itself


Are the non-Adobe PDF viewers as bad as Acrobat?

Quote from: Dain
As another issue, books are hard to pirate...takes a ton of patience with a scanner or photocopier...but PDF's are already in easily abused format.


We find that most people who buy indy games actually want to support the games. DnD might get pirated a lot due to the age group of its market and the faceless-corporation that produces it. TRoS, on the other hand -- well, I think we all understand that if we encourage people to rip-off Driftwood's intellectual property then the net effect will be to slow down the production of future products as the whole exercise becomes unprofitable. And we all want more products!

Cheers,
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Peregrine Dace
Member

Posts: 6


« Reply #19 on: July 31, 2004, 02:26:26 AM »

Quote from: Dain
*grin*...We're not dwindling...we're just not buying. Acrobat sucks, and the last thing in the world I need is 200 loose pages without a binding getting crumpled up in my gaming totes. Going PDF may get you a large number of buyers, but I personally (and everyone I'VE talked to so far save one person) wouldn't buy a PDF version if it had the ultimate gaming system ever devised on it, so you're missing a ton of sales if you don't offer a bound version as well. It's not that the books are more pretty and stroke our ego's better, it's that they hold up better under wear and tear, and give the players a sense that the designers are professional, have credibility, and are intending to stick around for a while. PDF's just don't give you that warm fuzzy feeling a bound book does.

Find your nearest university library.  They should have a bindery tucked away somewhere.  What we did when our shoddy Trinity bindings gave way was have them bound in a nice blue leather hardback with silver embossed titles for oh must be about $10 (70 South african Rand if that meaningful to anyone) a volume (maybe 1' or so/volume trade paperback size).  Looks really nice and lasts better than most publisher bindings.

As to the annoyance of Acrobat.  I'm not familiar enough woth other e-publishing products to say but does anyone know of a nicer one?
PD
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Dain
Member

Posts: 125


« Reply #20 on: July 31, 2004, 08:59:55 AM »

Hey Ian,
You had a couple of questions, let me take a couple of seconds to answer as best as I can.

Quote
Would you ignore the product entirely unless it were available at a game store? Or would you opt for the Print on Demand (PoD) version of the product, as opposed to the PDF version?


Well...in all honesty...no. I've played a few games that were new enough that the only distribution method was loose leaf sheets you had to shove into a 3 ring binder. Of course I didn't know where they came from though because the person running the game supplied them (he must have gone to the trouble to print it all out and punch it). That's part of where I got my distaste for hauling stuff around. 3 rings eventually tear, even if you use those obnoxious little paste on rings to strengthen the holes. Even if they don't tear, the binders are kindof "floppy and unstable" and the sheets inside flop around and fold over, get dog eared, etc,...as the binder flops open and closed while carrying it around. Books have a kind of "vacuum" nature to them keeping them from doing this as frequently. I'm not familiar with PoD. If that's a web based print kind of thing, I'd prefer it as a download so I don't have to have a dialup to print out whatever I'm interested in printing (especially when those loose leafs get damaged flopping around and I need to selectively replace damaged pages).

Quote
If you opted for the PoD version, would you be OK with the idea that subsequent revisions to the product would only be available as PDF? Or would you simply ignore updates to the product if they were only available as PDF?


Kindof answering in the dark, not being familiar with PoD, but continuing my above assumptions I'd say that if I actually gave in and printed the stuff out in the first place, yes I'd continually check for updates and print those out as I found them...but that being the case it would be nice if there were two versions of the download...one that is "changed sheets only" (of course for this you'd need a cumulative archive of links or a cumulative zip of all the incremental changes) and one that is "full set" for those that just want to print a full copy. PDF's are a real turn-off for me, but even I have to admit that's an occupational hazard in all fairness. If I hadn't had years of pain and anguish with the Acrobat reader, I probably wouldn't be anywhere near as Anti-Acrobat as I am. Given my prejudice against Acrobat, unless a printout was just a few sheets (30 or less) I'd probably just try to read through it once and never look at it again (which obviously wouldn't work for a game system), and I'd probably give up on it and move to some other system. So I guess the answer is Yes, I'd abort a system where I knew I was going to have to deal with PDF's eventually.

Now, since I'm bashing Acrobat so hard, it's probably only fair to admit that it does print prettier and fits to margins better than about any other product I've seen on the market. Credit where credit is due on that topic.

Quote
Are the non-Adobe PDF viewers as bad as Acrobat?


Actually, I'm not aware of the existance of any non-Acrobat PDF viewers. If you know of any, I'd be delighted to look at them because Acrobat's viewer sucks...*grin*...oh, come on, you knew I was going to dig at them again...it's been a whole paragraph since I bashed them.

Anyhow, to sumarize, I'm probably uncharacteristically anti-PDF, and at this point am probably "unsalvageable". Most others I know (but not quite all) are anti-PDF as well, but probably not to the extent I am...and while they may have no intention of ever PURCHASING said materials, they probably would have no problem printing them out and using them if they were given to them by the game master for free. And finally, it's really painful to carry 8 1/2 by 11 thick sheets of paper in binders, and that's a real turn off for a variety of reasons, but it's also only fair to admit it makes updates easier as you just have to replace a page or two now and then instead of reprinting a whole new set or buying a whole new book.

Oh, since you're a publisher that sounds like you're heading to PDF land, please for the sake of your customers do not repeat the mistakes I've seen in some specification updates. When they insert an update that increases the text or decreases the text enough that the page numbers could conceivably change in a "full version print" they often list the changed page number which totally throws off the index page (which also often does not get updated to reflect added/deleted pages). Two suggestions:
1. when you add enough text to a page to cause an additional page, make the additional page the same page number with an sub-page qualifier and send an updated index page too. For example, if on page 32 of a 97 page printout, the text grows enough to warrent another page, name the new page 32A or some such, and update whatever pages contain the index to list page 32A between pages 32 and 33. A lot of people live and die by their indexes, and those almost always get forgotten when updates occur.
2. when a whole topic gets deleted, it's really almost preferable to leave it there and title the page/section "obsolete" or "deleted" and update the index accordingly. That way the index still shows the topic (but marked as obsolete or deleted...just the same as the actual pages on the topic), and anyone desiring to use the old text still has access to it, but everyone else clearly sees it marked obsolete or deleted and can decide for themselves whether to rip it out of their folders or leave it there for index integrity. If you're just deleting text, and not a whole topic, leave a blank page in where the non-blank page used to be so page numbers don't get hosed, and update the index if necessary so nothing points to the blank page.

Anyhow, that's been my pet peeves concerning updated pages only distributions in my industry...may not be reflective of the gaming community, but thought I'd mention it to save some gamers some major headaches finding the topics they need to quickly page to "in game" so the game flow doesn't halt while they madly page around trying to find the topic in question.

Thanks for your patience Ian. I know it's hard to do that with someone as obviously opinionated as myself on this topic.
Cheers back at you again!
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Dain
Member

Posts: 125


« Reply #21 on: July 31, 2004, 09:16:34 AM »

...oh, and thanks Peregrine...if I ever get into a print out situation again, I'll look into that. Sounds like a world of improvement over 3 ring binders.
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Ian.Plumb
Member

Posts: 141


« Reply #22 on: July 31, 2004, 03:28:57 PM »

Hi,

Quote from: Ian.Plumb
Would you ignore the product entirely unless it were available at a game store? Or would you opt for the Print on Demand (PoD) version of the product, as opposed to the PDF version?


Quote from: Dain
I'm not familiar with PoD.


Traditionally it was difficult/expensive to configure a printing press to print a new item. To print one copy required as much work for the printer as producing a hundred copies or a thousand. For a print run to be economical for the publisher you might have to print a thousand copies of your new gaming module. Now that we're in the digital age modifying the printing press to produce a new product is virtually as simple as loading up the new PDF. So some printers offer Print on Demand, where the price for ordering a single copy of something isn't hugely different to ordering one hundred copies of something. TRoS is/was a Print on Demand product ("all orders are sent out the following Monday..."), where the customer's order is received before the product is printed.

We will offer PDF and PoD for our products. The PoD is simply a hardcopy of the PDF, perfect bound (like TRoS). The updates won't be available seperately -- the customer will have the option of downloading the revised PDF or ordering the PDF as a hardcopy via PoD.

Quote from: Ian.Plumb
Are the non-Adobe PDF viewers as bad as Acrobat?


Quote from: Dain
Actually, I'm not aware of the existance of any non-Acrobat PDF viewers. If you know of any, I'd be delighted to look at them because Acrobat's viewer sucks...*grin*...oh, come on, you knew I was going to dig at them again...it's been a whole paragraph since I bashed them.


There are many alternate PDF viewers...

http://www.foolabs.com/xpdf/download.html

http://www.object-craft.com.au/projects/macosxutils/pdfviewer.html

An Adobe-free life is just a Google away...

There are also many alternate PDF generators. GPStill is my favourite alternative to Adobe's Distiller.

Quote from: Dain
Oh, since you're a publisher that sounds like you're heading to PDF land ...

1. when you add enough text to a page to cause an additional page, make the additional page the same page number with an sub-page qualifier and send an updated index page too.


We won't be offering updates as a subset of the document. When the text is revised the product PDF will be updated and will replace the existing PDF that is available for download and available for PoD. Existing customers will then be notified that the updated PDF is available for download and will be given a list of the changes contained in the updated PDF.

Quote from: Dain
Thanks for your patience Ian. I know it's hard to do that with someone as obviously opinionated as myself on this topic.


No problem. It is interesting to discuss this with someone that has actually formed an opinion, one way or the other, on the subject.

Cheers,
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Brian Leybourne
Member

Posts: 1793


« Reply #23 on: August 01, 2004, 12:27:07 AM »

Guys,

I don't want to sound like a forum nazi, but this thread is supposed to be regarding TFOB updates not discussions on the merits of various PDF or similar items of software (which it has devolved into). Can you take this discussion to PM or email (or at least a non-announcement/stricky thread, that would be fine)? Other than for TFOB updates, this thread is closed.

Thanks,
Brian.
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Brian Leybourne
bleybourne@gmail.com

RPG Books: Of Beasts and Men, The Flower of Battle, The TROS Companion
Pages: 1 [2]
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