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[Seven Leagues] PDF vs POD pricing

Started by hieronymous, December 20, 2005, 04:28:38 PM

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I have Seven Leagues at RPG Now for $13:

and at Lulu for $20 plus S+H:

It turns out that if I let people download the Lulu version from Lulu, it would cost them about $13. There is another significant difference between the two: the PDF (which is meant to be screen-read) is color whereas in an effort to keep costs reasonable the POD version is greyscale (except the cover).

--Does it seem that the price difference between the two is reasonable?
--I suppose I could prep a "deluxe" Lulu version with color interior art, but that would obviously cost a lot more. Does that seem a worthwhile effort?
--How are some of you handling "upgrade" sales from PDF to print. It seems like I might have to sell both versions at the same venue, and I have reasons for selling where I sell, to wit: Lulu takes a much smaller bite out of sales than RPG Now for POD (at least last time I checked), and PRG Now does seem to steer new buyers to my game.
--I am making a mistake segregating my sales. For example, someone who stumbles across Sven Leagues at Lulu won't know they could buy a PDF version at RPG Now, and vice versa?

Josh Roby

Quote from: hieronymous on December 20, 2005, 04:28:38 PMI suppose I could prep a "deluxe" Lulu version with color interior art, but that would obviously cost a lot more. Does that seem a worthwhile effort?

How much effort does it entail for you to submit a full-color pdf to Lulu for printing?  How much does it cost you (I think zero)?  How many full-color books would you need to sell for that effort-and-cost to be worth it to you?  If that number is below five, I'd go ahead and do it.
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The price difference is fine. a 100+ page book at the $20.00 price point is actually a really good deal.

On that note, LuLu sales can be tough. Getting people to go there to buy is hard enough. POD through RPGNOW is also an option, but my own sales number through POD is pretty minumal (about 5% of PDF sales).

I think concentrating on just the PDF side is the way to go. You make more money in PDF that you do in PRINT.

As for the color of question, expect the cost of to double at LuLu. Printing in color is *very expensive*, even at LuLu.

Personally, I think you should order some copies at LuLu to be sent to your home, and try to pimp them out at local comic book shops yourself. Give them a "no risk" option -- you will take back whatever they don't sell.

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I just ran the numbers and a Lulu color edition would have print costs of just under $24 per copy. Since Lulu takes a cut of the difference between the sales price and the print cost, I'd probably need to sell it for at least $30. Seven Leagues is 127 pages, but they're 9x7 pages mind you. I'm glad you feel a $20 is a good price, but I wonder whether $30 for a small book isn't going too high.

And I agree that Lulu sales tend to trail behind PDFs. But since I formatted the book landscape for print and screen, and as Joshua pointed out, it costs me nothing to get it there. And you're right, having a few copies in hand to peddle to local retailers is always a good thing.

Thanks for the input!


     I haven't run anything through a POD service yet myself, but the estimated cost of getting 24 copies of my own book at RapidPOD was only $5.22 a book. My book is black and white(true monocrome), except for the cover, which is in color, and is about 211 pages long front to back. The pages are 8.5 x 11 and I am planning to do the paperback run of my book late next month.
     While I do handle distribution myself, I have also created a system through which I can create and distribute PDFs on CDs with a printed full color picture on them (on the CD itself, not on a sticker or something.) This costs me very little as well, only about $1.25 a CD, including shipping and handling. The price of the product to the customer unfortunately is higher because I don't sell very much of my only currently available book and my webspace costs add to the expense of the items I sell.
      I guess all I'm trying to say is that sure, you can definitely do both if you want to, and I think you can do it for less than with lulu, but it might not be as convient to handle.
     A word of warning about comic book shops though, they sometimes only sell things through their own dstribution companies, meaning as they have told me, not independants. Also they will sometimes only carry items after people express their willingness to buy them (after a clear demand exists.) Kind of a bummer, but maybe it's just where I live?
     Even if it is more wide spread than my area, it never hurts to have copies on hand, I am personally planning on taking some with me to a comic book convention or something in the future, probably during the summer. It is a good way to get people interested in your works, even if they've never heard of you before.
     One last thing, a lot of people who role play have told me that they do not like digital books very much. This is partially because they like to be able to carry the physical text around and be able read it without the use of a computer device. This is a good reason to support a physical format for your book which has nothing to do with the cost of production.
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I'll check into RapidPOD, but there's also a quality issue. I was told by several people, for example, that CafePress was lower quality when it came to print than Lulu (and for what it's worth Lulu is the printer for RPG Now's PODs). Lulu's quality is good enough, for example, that I was able to get a few copies of Reve into  my local game shop when I showed the owner my own copy; he was that impressed with the print and binding. I've also noticed over time that Lulu's quality seems to be improving--their covers are heavier than they used to be for example. Before you pay for 24 copies of your game, I recommend you run a test.

When I first published Reve waaaayyyy back in 02 we had lively discusions on print vs PDF. Some of that is now moot given POD; why not have both indeed? While personally I prefer print, there are several advantages to PDF too: incremental updates, search functions, annotation, the ability to print offf just a few pages for players, etc. etc. Again, having both seems ideal.

Which leads me back to one of my original questions: for those offering both versions, how do you handle upgrades from PDF to print?

Oh and thanks again Joshua; there is now a deluxe all-color edition of Seven Leagues at Lulu.


Personally it is very easy to change from one format to the other, I have software which converts the base doc file into low and high grade PDFs at the same time. The low grade version is able to be split up and put onto my web page (haven't done it yet, but I will) and the high grade version can be sent to the printer.
     Many printing companies can print a book from the high PDF formated file, which I have set up to their specifcations for printing before sending it to be printed. The cover has to be included as a separate file, but otherwise it takes all of 3 minute to make both copies of the book ready for processing.
     I lucked out on this because I have a friend who owns a copy of Adobe Creative Suite, with multiple seats, and he allowed me access to one of them so that I could do this.
     Good point about running a test print of the book by the way, I really wouldn't want to end up paying for 24 low quality books. Still, I'll end up printing them one way or another, just not necessarily through RapidPOD :)
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