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PDF and Print Release Timing


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Hi,

It's me, No One's Favorite Rando!¬†¬†ūü§™

I got a question and I promise I won't whine about the answer. I would however like to ask the question and maybe someone can help me out.

I was reading old threads and watching Jeff's videos back to January 7th. In a thread entitled "What's Going On With Chaosium and Runequest" (or something like that), some folks wrote they were disappointed with some decision to delay the sale of PDFs until a book was ready to physically ship. Others disagreed writing that the policy only applied to the Starter Set, because what would be the point. Still others disagreed writing, "no that is the across the board policy." No definitive conclusion.

I got to the meeting late and missed the memo (figuratively not literally). I've never come across that announcement for myself. Does anybody know definitively what the situation is? 

I won't complain and I won't encourage others to either, but I'm curious.


I have seen the January 7th videos for myself, and it sounds like those books were on the precipice of coming out of layout at the time of the video and Jeff talks like the Prosopaedia has been part of the plan since well before those videos were made. So I'd be kinda dumb not to wonder if we're not just waiting for the hardcopies to be ready to be sold.

Can anybody fill ol' Wheel Shield in?

Edited by Wheel Shield
added a few words for clarity
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+1 on the overall query...

Has Chaosium decided to entirely stop doing the "PDF-first" release policy, with the PDF-price being discounted from the physical price when it ships?
Are the PDF's now going to be held back pending the physical copies' wending their way through the myriad of physical supply-chain issues?

Or is this just for a few titles?  Most titles?

Or is it all a misunderstanding based on the singular choice for the Starter Set, maybe an accident of phrasing captured on video?  Or...?

[ if the decision is still up in the air, let me register my vote  ( VERY strongly! )  for getting access to the PDF's sooner! ]

Any definitive word from @Jason D or @Jeff or etc @Chaosium?

 

1 hour ago, Wheel Shield said:

... Jeff talks like the Prosopaedia has been part of the plan since well before those videos were made...

Yes, they've been talking about the Prosopaedia (as the 3rd volume of the Cults set) for quite a while now.  I  presume  it'll (at least eventually) be available separately (e.g. for QW:Glorantha &13G players, who've less interest in those RQG-rules-y Cults volumes).

I think the Prosopaedia got finished faster because it has zero game-mechanical "moving parts" to cross-reference, and because IIRC all the art is single-tracking through one very-RQG-experienced artist, so it needs less art-direction and fewer iterations of the art.
(But that's just one fannish impression... entirely from the outside looking in... nose pressed against the glass... tears of longing on my cheeks...)

 

Edited by g33k
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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the interest g33k!

Just to clarify, I am both referring to "Cults of Glorantha product" (the 3 volume set) AND/OR all Glorantha/Runequest books in general.

I am not sure why I singled out the Prosopaedia in my original post. Maybe I thought that was the volume we are waiting to be finished in layout? That doesn't matter and it's a distraction. I am asking about Cults of Glorantha however Chaosium is going to sell it, as well as products in general.

I just didn't want my original question to be misunderstood or splinter into side questions like "can I get this book separately?"

Mine is just a straightforward question, see OP.  

Edited by Wheel Shield
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I've only seen an announcement for the Starter Set and Weapons and Equipment came out shortly after that as a PDF with the printing still to come.  That said, I note chaosium's silence during a discussion about the the new policy pf combined releases which could be read either way (Yes, it's true or No, the discussion is too silly to merit comment).

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Chaosium did a fairly detailed analysis on releasing the PDF first, followed by selling the printed version later (with PDF discount coupon). Please note, if your primary or main desire is to get the material (albeit in PDF) as quickly as possible, then there really is no debate about preferring PDF first. We get that, and respect that desire. Before I get into some of the results of our research, please be assured that we will still offer free PDFs with printed books purchased directly from Chaosium (plus Bits & Mortar). That also goes for purchasing a PDF first and then wanting to buy the printed book later. You will still get a discount coupon.

Here are some things we concluded or discovered during our look into "PDF first" or "PDF and Print at the same time":

  • PDF first currently relies on crowdsourced editing. While that sounds nifty to some, it actually pointed out that we shouldn't be relying on such volunteer efforts to get us a fully edited/correct final book. That's not what professional publishers do. Our development process must produce books that are edited completely. It showed we need more professional editing. In no way should this be seen as a derogatory comment about all of the people who volunteer to help with crowdsourced edits, or the quality of what they do. We really appreciate all the volunteers.
  • PDF first¬†forces us¬†to announce and market the book twice (PDF release and then printed book release), which makes each announcement have less impact as opposed to having a larger single campaign. The printed book needs to make the biggest splash when announced.
  • PDF first means creating and processing a lot of PDF discount¬†coupons, including combo coupons, when the printed book is sold. This is more time consuming than you think.
  • PDF first means two versions of the "final" PDF are out in circulation, plus the inevitable desire to know specifically what the differences are, which is time consuming to explain and detail. Some even worry that all of the changes made might not make it into the printed version.
  • PDF first also raised questions about its effect on total sales. Does getting the¬†PDF early make someone more OR less likely to buy the¬†printed book later?

So what does all that mean? It means we are seeing how things go with doing the next new releases as "PDF and Printed book at the same time". We've done plenty of "PDF first" releases to know what those are like. Once we have enough of both approaches to more fully compare, we'll see what we do going forward. 

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Hope that Helps,
Rick Meints - Chaosium, Inc.

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30 minutes ago, metcalph said:

I've only seen an announcement for the Starter Set and Weapons and Equipment came out shortly after that as a PDF with the printing still to come.  That said, I note chaosium's silence during a discussion about the the new policy pf combined releases which could be read either way (Yes, it's true or No, the discussion is too silly to merit comment).

Starter Set already came out in print , Weapons & Equipment proof copy picture was posted a month or two ago.

I am an anxious fan as much as you are, and NOT Chaosium staff.  But-

As far as I can tell the gods book set is being laid out for print and they have said they will not release a pdf earlier.  That may not be a policy for perpetuity. I'll bet you a clack it's subject to experience.  Looks like Rick Meints has answered you as I type, you lucky dog. 

My own estimate is that responding to "are we there yet, are we there yet" gets really old after a while and is frustrating in this year of "supply chain issues" & COVID19.    Staff may also figure it  uses time in which they could edit or otherwise process another release like the Sartar or Holy Country material.

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@Rick MeintsI appreciate the thoughtful answer! The reasoning is sound and I can't argue with trying something new in order to see how it goes. A publisher that doesn't make money can't publish.

Orlanth loves a generous giver, and I love a straight answer.

For me alone, this thread is concluded with my thanks.

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10 hours ago, Rick Meints said:

PDF first currently relies on crowdsourced editing.

To be completely clear, the type of editing Rick is referring to here is proofreading - looking for errors in the final, laid-out proof (which is essentially what the PDF is). Whether our books are released PDF first or PDF + book at the same time, they do all go through stages of comprehensive developmental editing and copy editing before the proofreading stage. 

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About this last item:
"PDF first also raised questions about its effect on total sales. Does getting the PDF early make someone more OR less likely to buy the printed book later?"

I'm almost certain it would, though I couldn't guess as to the percentage of purchasers for whom that would be true.

However, if a purchaser buys the printed book for the printed book price, that doesn't remove the desire to have the .pdf earlier than one would be able to receive the physical book.  At least, I know that's true for me.  I plan to buy the Cults of Glorantha slipcase set, all 200 or whatever dollars of it, but I would also like to have the .pdf as soon as possible.  No possible loss of sales dollars would result.

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1 hour ago, Jason Farrell said:

About this last item:
"PDF first also raised questions about its effect on total sales. Does getting the PDF early make someone more OR less likely to buy the printed book later?"

I'm almost certain it would, though I couldn't guess as to the percentage of purchasers for whom that would be true.

However, if a purchaser buys the printed book for the printed book price, that doesn't remove the desire to have the .pdf earlier than one would be able to receive the physical book.  At least, I know that's true for me.  I plan to buy the Cults of Glorantha slipcase set, all 200 or whatever dollars of it, but I would also like to have the .pdf as soon as possible.  No possible loss of sales dollars would result.

We absolutely know that most people if given the choice of "PDF first sooner" or "print and pdf together later" will choose PDF first. If nothing else there is basically no advantage to the second choice. Nobody who mainly wants the PDF would ever want to wait longer, and there is no down side to those who don't care about the PDF as they are just waiting for the printed book anyway. The thing is, there's a LOT more to this from the Chaosium side of the situation. In essence, doing split releases via PDF first is MORE work for us, more time consuming, and ultimately more expensive. Unless "PDF First" causes a substantial increase in sales, it is basically costing us money. We'll have more data to make that cost analysis over the next 6-12 months, and then we can decide what the dollars and cents show which is the best way forward.  

TLDR: If we see that sales do not drop for books we release via PDF and Printed book at the same time, we are not likely to go back to PDF first.

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Hope that Helps,
Rick Meints - Chaosium, Inc.

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On 7/25/2022 at 12:53 PM, Rick Meints said:

Chaosium did a fairly detailed analysis

...

we'll see what we do going forward. 

So often, Rick, you live up to your .sig, "Hope that Helps,"

I must say, though -- with this reply, you have outdone yourself !

TYVM

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On 7/27/2022 at 12:16 AM, Rick Meints said:

We absolutely know that most people if given the choice of "PDF first sooner" or "print and pdf together later" will choose PDF first. If nothing else there is basically no advantage to the second choice. Nobody who mainly wants the PDF would ever want to wait longer, and there is no down side to those who don't care about the PDF as they are just waiting for the printed book anyway. The thing is, there's a LOT more to this from the Chaosium side of the situation. In essence, doing split releases via PDF first is MORE work for us, more time consuming, and ultimately more expensive. Unless "PDF First" causes a substantial increase in sales, it is basically costing us money. We'll have more data to make that cost analysis over the next 6-12 months, and then we can decide what the dollars and cents show which is the best way forward.  

TLDR: If we see that sales do not drop for books we release via PDF and Printed book at the same time, we are not likely to go back to PDF first.

You could create coupons worth only half of the price of the pdf. I would love to be able to pay extra for having the content 3-8 months before the hardcopy.

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On 7/25/2022 at 6:42 PM, Wheel Shield said:

Can anybody fill ol' Wheel Shield in?

If it helps, most of the Jonstown Compendium are PDF First.

On 7/26/2022 at 11:16 PM, Rick Meints said:

We absolutely know that most people if given the choice of "PDF first sooner" or "print and pdf together later" will choose PDF first.

As, of course, it should be.¬†ūüôā

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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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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, soltakss said:

If it helps, most of the Jonstown Compendium are PDF First.

As, of course, it should be.¬†ūüôā

You're right. I have a couple well regarded J.C. products like Duel at Dangerford and Six Seasons in Sartar. There is no reason not to be patient and grab those fine products and start having fun.

I don't know if there is an irony to this or not but the fact that a comprehensive Cults book, a Sartar treatment, and a GM's guide all on the way actually becomes a barrier just... starting. I mean knowing it's pending becomes instinctual impediment to playing or running in a Runequest game or introducing it to people who have never played. I know full well that most people could start a game now and in a few months they'll have more material to work with. Yet the irrational instinct is to wait those few months and to squeeze that next bit of material before taking the big step and actually doing something with the game.

It shouldn't be that way and don't ask me to expend or defend it logically. Yet even as I read encouragement here on the forums to go ahead and give it a try, that reluctance is somehow reinforced.

Well, since I suffer from it too, I can actually look inwards. 

Unlike the good ol' days (such as they were) people have a lot of choices with RPGs. The internet and VTTs make it easier than ever to find people to play with. It doesn't change the fact that it can be scary to recruit randos to play a game. Even with digital platforms and aides, I still like to play with people I am friendly or with whom I am acquainted.  A person takes a risks and buys some game books and hope they can talk their friends into trying it. So you want to present it in the coolest manner possible without the mechanics and setting feeling like they're missing something. Sometimes you only get one good shot to introduce a new game. You might have more than one session, but you have to make that overall first impression count.

 The idea that soon the Cult Books will soonish be available becomes like a security blanket. There is a sense the game won't leave the GM suddenly hanging. It is likely wrongbad thinking, but that's why there is a focus when a significant core book on the horizon. Especially since cults are such an important part of the Dragon Pass part of the world.

I do know once Cults arrives I will be relying on some J. Compendium resources. FWIW.

 

 

Edited by Wheel Shield
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On 7/28/2022 at 2:13 PM, Soccercalle said:

You could create coupons worth only half of the price of the pdf. I would love to be able to pay extra for having the content 3-8 months before the hardcopy.

Interesting, I would also be ok with that, but it might not enjoy widespread popularity.

Clearly the "PDF first" system works great for selfish old me, but it is interesting to see the business side of it. I can't imagine that "simultaneous release" will result in a drop in sales so I guess we've seen the end of those days.

The key is getting the internal proofreading process good enough. Clearly some of the past releases needed more at the point of pdf release, but that's not a criticism as it was a deliberate choice to release early. The Starter Set also had issues though. I feel bad about that as I was part of that process, focusing mainly on stat blocks, and I missed Nathem's bison-sized cat stats! What's the saying, "no-one mentions the bison in the room"? ūü§£

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