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Happy Second Birthday to the Jonstown Compendium!


Nick Brooke

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The Jonstown Compendium is Chaosium’s community content store for RuneQuest and Gloranthan gaming on DriveThruRPG. Since it opened at the start of December 2019, independent creators have used its license to publish their own work set in Greg Stafford’s mythic fantasy world of Glorantha. On its second birthday, they’ve generously allowed us to share their results, which we hope will inform, inspire and encourage more authors, artists, cartographers, designers and others to get on board.

The charts that follow show the sales of every major Jonstown Compendium release over the past two years. This includes the 69 books in the first three categories of Nick Brooke’s Jonstown Compendium Index: the RuneQuest Scenarios, Glorantha Sourcebooks & QuestWorlds Titles. Sales of the other four product categories are, in general, significantly lower (this includes the Monsters of the Month, Zenith Counters, Adventure Outlines & Everything Else)... but most community content creators aren’t producing those.

Another chart compares those Jonstown Compendium titles’ best-seller medals to DriveThruRPG’s overall rankings. As you can see, Jonstown Compendium sales compare extremely favourably with the site-wide average. Remember that the DriveThruRPG figures include professionally produced RPG core books and supplements, not ‘just’ community content.

Most Jonstown Compendium titles quickly earn their Copper (51 sales) and Silver (101) best-seller medals. Our star titles have hit Silver in days, Electrum (251) in a month, and Gold (501) in 3-4 months. At the time of writing, Six Seasons in Sartar is just ten sales from Platinum (1,001 sales).

More than twenty printed books are available from the Jonstown Compendium. On average, print sales make up 32% of total sales for those books with a print-on-demand edition. (Due to capacity constraints, titles must usually be Electrum best-sellers before being approved for print)

The Jonstown Compendium is a successful community content programme, going from strength to strength. Chaosium’s community content titles made a clean sweep of the 2021 ENNIE Awards for Best Organized Play: A Rough Guide to Glamour won the Gold award, and Citizens of the Lunar Empire was also a finalist.

Using the Jonstown Compendium license, you can sell and share your Gloranthan material on DriveThruRPG. If that idea appeals, check out the Jonstown Compendium Guidelines, and start creating!

Jonstown Compendium
Cumulative sales by month

RuneQuest, Glorantha & QuestWorlds

750955271_JCCumulativeSalesbyMonth(USLetter).thumb.png.0188bc35388cc6bcf86f2cb4f34dc0b5.png

 

Jonstown Compendium
Cumulative sales over time

RuneQuest, Glorantha & QuestWorlds

1161013272_JCCumulativeSalesoverTime(USLetter).thumb.png.82965389d11ebedc17363145832486b4.png

 

Jonstown Compendium medals (#) vs. DriveThruRPG (%)
RuneQuest, Glorantha & QuestWorlds

1503114764_MedalsChart.thumb.png.fdc8c598c20d21cd36e967ef191cd432.png

 

Jonstown Compendium print and digital sales
RuneQuest, Glorantha & QuestWorlds

915013157_JCPrintSales.thumb.png.979e44daef8806d0ea54bfa96ffc30f0.png

Edited by Nick Brooke
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1 hour ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

You wrote, " On average, print sales make up 32% of total sales for those books with a print-on-demand edition. ". 

Is that 32% of all sales from day one? 

If so,  what percentage of sales after going into hard copy, have been hard copy?  I'd think that statistic would be illuminating as to customer preference.

That will be a pain in the arse to collate, as you'd have to look at stats separately for each title. Click "Like" (or whatever) on my root post, name three books you're interested in, and I'll analyse those. I strongly suggest you don't ask for Armies & Enemies, as that's been out less than a week in print.

Edited by Nick Brooke
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12 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

That will be a pain in the arse to collate, as you'd have to look at stats separately for each title. Click "Like" (or whatever) on my root post, name three books you're interested in, and I'll analyse those. I strongly suggest you don't ask for Armies & Enemies, as that's been out less than a week in print.

A rough guide to Glamour, Six Seasons in Sartar, and Tales of the Sun County Militia, please.

Those have large numbers of sales, the top 3 of hardcovers as far as I can see,  so you'll be looking at the largest samples available. 

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Okey doke, here's the stats: please let me know what you make of them. I've provided a breakdown of sales between each milestone.

A Rough Guide to Glamour
PDF release 13 April 2020: 291 PDF sales.
Print release 19 May 2020: 314 print (144 bundles), 162 PDF.
Cheap print release 2 July 2021: 7 premium (3 bundles), 17 cheap (8 bundles), 40 PDF.

Six Seasons in Sartar
PDF release 15 May 2020: 366 PDF sales.
Print release 22 July 2020: 326 print (79 bundles), 312 PDF.

Tales of the Sun County Militia
PDF release 2 December 2019: 351 PDF sales.
Print release 12 October 2020: 170 print (28 bundles), 57 PDF
Cheap print release 2 July 2021: 10 premium (3 bundles), 14 cheap (3 bundles), 43 PDF.

"Bundle" = print and PDF versions purchased at the same time. DriveThruRPG counts this as one sale, which is fair enough, as that's what medal counts etc. are based on.

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Oh, the charts are out of date already: Six Seasons in Sartar is now the Jonstown Compendium's first Platinum best-seller, with over 1,000 books sold.

Platinum.png

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15 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

Okey doke, here's the stats: please let me know what you make of them. I've provided a breakdown of sales between each milestone.

A Rough Guide to Glamour
PDF release 13 April 2020: 291 PDF sales.
Print release 19 May 2020: 314 print (144 bundles), 162 PDF.
Cheap print release 2 July 2021: 7 premium (3 bundles), 17 cheap (8 bundles), 40 PDF.

Six Seasons in Sartar
PDF release 15 May 2020: 366 PDF sales.
Print release 22 July 2020: 326 print (79 bundles), 312 PDF.

Tales of the Sun County Militia
PDF release 2 December 2019: 351 PDF sales.
Print release 12 October 2020: 170 print (28 bundles), 57 PDF
Cheap print release 2 July 2021: 10 premium (3 bundles), 14 cheap (3 bundles), 43 PDF.

"Bundle" = print and PDF versions purchased at the same time. DriveThruRPG counts this as one sale, which is fair enough, as that's what medal counts etc. are based on.

So when the print version is available the median of our three data points shows about 2:1 print vs. PDF sales.   This indicates to me that print is the preferred medium for the usual Runequester. 

Not to deny that PDF can fit on your phone or tablet, can be printed out if you want to use the ink and then bind it, and is cheaper and price makes a difference.  Nevertheless given all those conditions, 2:1 preference for hard copy. 

 

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Pardon me, but that seems facile. “If we ignore all the initial PDF sales, there’s a clear preference for print.” Sure…

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13 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

Pardon me, but that seems facile. “If we ignore all the initial PDF sales, there’s a clear preference for print.” Sure…

No, just a different way of looking at the data.  We have a natural experiment here, two different states, hard copy available = yes and =no.   When you add hard copy availability what happens?  Now we know.

It's not the first time that a change in a product's features made a difference.

 

 

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On 12/2/2021 at 8:42 PM, Squaredeal Sten said:

This indicates to me that print is the preferred medium for the usual Runequester. 

I don't know that we can necessarily make that conclusion.

I buy pdf when it comes out.  If I like it and think it worth the investment, I'll buy the print version when available.  I've only done so with a subset of those works with print options (e.g. Six Seasons, Company of the Dragon, the first 3 Sandheart vols, Rough Guide to Glamour, and Citizens).  I expect I'll add Sandheart v.4 and Armies & Enemies. 

Generally my criteria for buying print are these:  fine artwork; convenience to browse/read through.

For almost any other case (search, etc.) my preferred medium is pdf.

Edit: also Black Spear, but bought both pdf and print on release.

Edited by jajagappa
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1 hour ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

No, just a different way of looking at the data.  We have a natural experiment here, two different states, hard copy available = yes and =no.   When you add hard copy availability what happens?  Now we know.

How do you know how many buyers of the pdf purchased the printed edition as a chaser to their pdf?

Edited by Joerg
plural...

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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1 hour ago, jajagappa said:

Generally my criteria for buying print are these:  fine artwork; convenience to browse/read through.

You'll be wanting a Black Spear, then: it's gorgeous!

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On 12/3/2021 at 2:42 AM, Squaredeal Sten said:

So when the print version is available the median of our three data points shows about 2:1 print vs. PDF sales.

I don't think this reasoning works. Print typically comes later, sometimes a lot later, so once print hits the store, a lot of the people who would buy the PDF have already done so.

If you want to set up a test for this, you would need a product to hit PDF and Print at the same time.

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3 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

If you want to set up a test for this, you would need a product to hit PDF and Print at the same time.

I think the theory is probably rubbish, but Valley of Plenty launched in print and PDF simultaneously (back before the Electrum rule came into force); I’ll check out those numbers tomorrow.

But even if it’s correct that “the average RuneQuester prefers print” (although 68% of sales are PDFs), what difference would that make to community content creators? We still have to sell >250 PDFs before we can start work on the print version, and there are clearly >250 people who are happy to buy our books in digital format. What’s the alternative?

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On 12/3/2021 at 11:07 AM, Squaredeal Sten said:

No, just a different way of looking at the data.  We have a natural experiment here, two different states, hard copy available = yes and =no.   When you add hard copy availability what happens?  Now we know.

It's not the first time that a change in a product's features made a difference.

You seem to be drawing the conclusion you WANT, not a conclusion in the data.

You are ignoring that  those who prefer PDF  will mostly have bought before print; you are presuming that the arrival of the print option comes into the same market that the PDF-only faced.

Instead, the arrival of print probably saw the PDF customer-base largely fulfilled, and the PDF demand tapering off.

When a product has been in print for over a year, it *might* be valid to compare total PDF-vs-print sales... maybe.


 

Edited by g33k
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6 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

I think the theory is probably rubbish, but Valley of Plenty launched in print and PDF simultaneously (back before the Electrum rule came into force); I’ll check out those numbers tomorrow.

But even if it’s correct that “the average RuneQuester prefers print” (although 68% of sales are PDFs), what difference would that make to community content creators? We still have to sell >250 PDFs before we can start work on the print version, and there are clearly >250 people who are happy to buy our books in digital format. What’s the alternative?

The difference is that you have an indication of how much light there is at the end of the tunnel.

 

 

Edited by Squaredeal Sten
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6 hours ago, g33k said:

......

When a product has been in print for over a year, it *might* be valid to compare total PDF-vs-print sales... maybe.


 

Reasonable point.  Some of those are at or near the one year mark.

But yes, Black Spear is one to look at.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Squaredeal Sten
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Another rather obvious point to make - "preference" is completely irrelevant if either a) you can't get it where you are, or b) the price to get it there is astronomical.

I imagine that most people (especially true fans) would always (90%???) prefer a printed version (as well as a PDF), but prefer more to not have to spend that sort of money to get it.

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3 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

I imagine that most people (especially true fans) would always (90%???) prefer a printed version (as well as a PDF), but prefer more to not have to spend that sort of money to get it.

There are no circumstances under which I would say that over two thirds of my customers are not “true fans.”

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On 12/3/2021 at 1:42 AM, Squaredeal Sten said:

This indicates to me that print is the preferred medium for the usual Runequester. 

For Secrets of Dorastor, I had about a dozen requests for the POD, with some people saying they would not buy the PDF.

Nick's figures show that approximately 20% of the total sales of Secrets of Dorastor were POD, which meant that not very many people really wanted it in print.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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6 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

I imagine that most people (especially true fans) would always (90%???) prefer a printed version (as well as a PDF), but prefer more to not have to spend that sort of money to get it.

OK, then, I must not be a True Fan, as I only ever buy PDFs nowadays.

I suppose that playing in Glorantha for almost 40 years doesn't make me a True Fan.

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Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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