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"PDFs Would You Buy Them? " Topic

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Trousers Moran13 Jun 2005 8:35 a.m. PST

More and more companies seem to be offering rules in PDF format. How do people feel about that format, either as a customer buying the rules, or a trader selling them.

I know there was a fair sized anti camp, but has that changed in recent years?

alien BLOODY HELL surfer13 Jun 2005 8:39 a.m. PST

Don't mind buying them, means if my rules get damaged I print another set. It depends on the cost, a high production rulebook with piccies etc is nice but not always necessary.

Personal logo Lentulus Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2005 8:40 a.m. PST

If it is way cheaper than offset print, sure. Unlike computer manuals which I will use while sitting at my monitor, wargame rules get used standing by a table so you have to be able to print them.

briansommers13 Jun 2005 8:42 a.m. PST

yes! im a very impulsive buyer and when i know i can get the rules instantly, i buy

Goldwyrm13 Jun 2005 8:43 a.m. PST

I'm still anti- on paying for a PDF. I bring hardcopies of rules to a game and the cost of my time printing and putting together a rulebook from an electronic version exceeds the cost of buying rules in print.

elsyrsyn13 Jun 2005 8:45 a.m. PST

"and the cost of my time printing and putting together a rulebook from an electronic version exceeds the cost of buying rules in print."

I don't really buy this. Hitting the print button, then slapping on a binder clip takes virtually no time and very little expense. If you're having these things printed up at a print shop and bound, yes, but doing that defeats the purpose of buying a pdf anyway.


Pictors Studio13 Jun 2005 8:46 a.m. PST

I probably wouldn't as PDF's often as not crash my computer.

Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2005 8:47 a.m. PST

(Retailer hat on): My customers expect a complete rules set. That includes the printing and binding.

Consumer hat on: The prices I have seen, so far, for pdf rules has been way too high! Especially when the purchaser will have to also pay for the printing, ink and binding. (While printer for the computer have decreased in price, the required ink cartridges haven't!) This also does not address the personal time required to do all this.

Also. there are plenty of decent rules sets available from the net, for free. Why pay for one when I have to do the "production" work? (unless they are just a nominal fee - like just $1.00-$2.00)

Author's hat on: How does one go about ensuring that multiple copies are not produced for the price of one? In these cases, multiple sales to clubs/group of gamers would have brought in more revenues?

These problems/concerns seem to remain. Remember, there are now a lot of "print on demand" houses out there where a new autor can have his/her rules published without having to buy 1,000 copies all at once.

Tom Dye

TodCreasey Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2005 8:49 a.m. PST

I buy them all of the time - in preference to printed because

No shipping
The post has become very unreliable of late (especially the Royal Mail)

If I could get them at a decent price at my FLGS I would but normally I can't.

Ratbone13 Jun 2005 8:55 a.m. PST

Virtually no time and expense? Are you kidding? This GREATLY depends upon the size of the rules in question. Of the games I play, very few of them would be worth it for me to pay for a PDF. I would be spending a lot of money on printer cartridges at 25 bucks a pop printing some rules. Some folks printers may stretch out their printing dollar, and some may be huge ink wasters. Plus some folks might not know how to print black and white only, if there are pictures of color in there it's wasting ink that is really not needed (after all, the point of PDF is saving money for all parties on fancy production, why bother with pictures unless they are necessary to explain rules?), and so on.

This is a complicated issue. PDF rules can't be browsed through, so usually are purchased sight unseen. PDF rules can't be returned if the owner changes his mind after reading through them.

Personally I think they're a great idea, but you can't bring the issue down to that simple of a concept. Not to mention that I don't know what "binder clip" you're mentioning, I've never had to bind something besides three-ring style, so this is unknown to me.

For example, take Warhammer 40k (my latest big rulebook purchase). I would have loved to buy only the rules (none of the fluff and fancy pictures) in PDF for a greatly reduced price. For that matter, I imagine their sales would have plummeted on real books had they offered that. The rules to 40k are a small contribution, the extra takes up much more.

Another example is Warhammer Ancients, which I bought about two years ago. That book contains much more rules than fluff and such. It would take a LOT of paper and ink to print just the rules (and examples) for that game.

Depends upon the rules and other stuff. On the same subject, How about selling a CD (cost to create 1 dollar US) with PDF rules on it? In the game store, but still cheap.

Rotorvator13 Jun 2005 9:10 a.m. PST

PDF is ok if the rules aren't too big, as it's a hassle to print out. Up to 30 pages or so, fine. Beyond, I prefer hard copy. I also prefer PDF rules to be simple, low-graphic black & white affairs.

Sure it's sight unseen, but so are all the order rules you buy via mailorder. As long as there are enough decent reviews out there I can't see this as a problem.

Personal logo mmitchell Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Jun 2005 9:15 a.m. PST

We discussed releasing Gutshot as a PDF, and decided against it. Our book is 178 pages, so it would be very cost prohibitive for people to print out full copies. And there isn't a whole lot of fluff, so you would need to print most of it out (especially the more advanced stuff about aiming, cover fire, and special movement modifiers for terrain). Plus, we have too many concerns about security and illegal distribution. Yes, people could buy one book and photocopy it, but at only $19.95 USD a book, it's probably cheaper to just buy a copy.

Now, all that being said, I frequently buy PDFs of small rule books. I bought Shady Gulch for about $6. USD I can't imagine I'd have paid much more than $10 USD for it, even if it had been printed as a book. It was just too marginal and I was mainly interested in it for research puproses.

Oh, and the retailers I've spoken to have all said that CDs with PDFs just don't sell. Even terrain CDs like Whitewash City just don't move in stores.

So, in summary: Gutshot won't be coming out as a PDF, but I do buy other PDFs if they have small page counts.

morrigan13 Jun 2005 9:19 a.m. PST

I like pdf for the same reasons as TodCreasey. I often buy them.

Cpt Arexu13 Jun 2005 9:24 a.m. PST

Yes, I buy them, and prefer them.

Easy to get when I'm ready to buy, easy to find (since there's no decent game store nearby, and the good ones farther off can't carry everything I'd want, simply finding hardcopy rules is problematic).

Print cost - not that bad (bad black and white, maybe color cover), and offset by the price reduction for PDF.
(I wouldn't buy a pdf for the cost of a printed game, since the printed version has all the costs of printing and hardcopy distribution added). I can comb-bind them, or just file them in a 3-ring binder.

I've got decent free rules, but I've got hardcopy rules and pdfs too. I get the rules I'm looking for, in the format available.

Pricing is a big factor in reducing casual copying, too, by making it less attractive. You get lower pricing because you aren't paying for printing, storing, and distributing copies to the world. Customers can more easily afford buying their own. Priced low enough you start seeing multiple sales; I never buy just one pdf, because they fall well below what i think of as my discretionary limit (20 dollars, the minimum amount my bank machine will dole out, my walking-around money). If game rules cost what I'd spend on a six-pack, instead of a good bottle of whiskey, I buy more rules, because I budgeted for whiskey. Or I buy figures to use with the rules, to get up to what I planned for spending.

Its easier for me to push a new rule set at the club when anybody can buy in cheap, and they can pick up the rules easily online. Free rule sets get printed (or the address passed around, pdfs just get shown off, and the seller's address passed around. If the game is fun, people do buy.

Capatian13 Jun 2005 9:25 a.m. PST

I'm anti-pdf and will not buy them.
I don't want to deal with printing them out, if I can just buy the book. Even if the book is the same think and twice the cost. If the publisher won't print one for me, I won't buy.

vojvoda13 Jun 2005 9:29 a.m. PST

Gutshot is 178 pages!

Mon Dieu!

James Mattes

Mapleleaf13 Jun 2005 9:29 a.m. PST

No for exactly the same reasons given by Capatian.

Ur of Persia13 Jun 2005 9:32 a.m. PST

I believe a number of publishers are making money from their ebooks, those who are actually do will need to jump in here. I belong to the camp that electronic distribution doesnt hurt your potential sales figures, rather the reverse.

Everyone would like to produce a nice set of printed rules but sometimes the cost is just to great, esp if you can only sell a small number of copies, more often than not you end up losing money. ebooks are a great way to release your work.

You charge what the market is willing to pay. Right now it appears the market is willing to pay quite a bit, typically between 8-14USD.

Ur of Persia13 Jun 2005 9:37 a.m. PST

>>I don't want to deal with printing them out, if I can just buy the book. Even if the book is the same think and twice the cost. If the publisher won't print one for me, I won't buy.

Well, I think this is where those Print-On-Demand services that some ebook vendors are offering now will satisfy your requirement. No overheads to them and you get your printed copy.

Neotacha13 Jun 2005 9:37 a.m. PST

The thing with PDFs is you needn't print every single page, guys. Much of the fluff is concentrated in sections of the book, and I just don't bother with printing those pages. If I get rules or sourcebooks in PDF, I usually only print what I need from them.

mweaver13 Jun 2005 9:40 a.m. PST

I am a little dubious. I would want a hardcopy during the game, so that's wear and tear on the printer. And they eat a lot of storage space. Neotacha bought some RPG stuff yesterday, a lot of PDFs for $24, which doesn't sound bad. But they filled a data spike that cost about %50, and printing all of them will probably go a long way to killing a $30 USD ink cartridge.

So, say, c. $100 USD if we keep them saved? Not sure we saved much over buying hard copies in the first place...

Neotacha13 Jun 2005 9:48 a.m. PST

Yeah, but we could burn them to CDs for a couple of dollars. Not much of an issue, there. And my stance re: printing stands.

FlakMagnet13 Jun 2005 10:32 a.m. PST

I prefer PDFs for smaller rulebooks, though I recently purchased Defiance with a whopping 250 pages in PDF format! The rules are $15 USD in PDF. Very nice price for a book of that size and the layout graphics is VERY nicely done. I mention that not as a sales pitch, but to give an example of where PDF format doesn't necessarily mean low production values.

I have ready/cheap(free) access to fast printing and comb-binding services, which makes getting a hard-copy out of the PDF a relatively trivial thing for me.

The coolest thing I've ever seen WRT rules being in PDF format is done by for Mein Panzer and it's data-books, probably more of their rules too:

You buy the rules either in PDF format or as a collection of loose-leaf pages. When the rules are updated, expanded or whatever, you can download updated pages and just add them to the book or replace the old pages with the new ones if needed. That way you always have an up to date copy and you're not risking your investment every time you take your books/binders to a convention!

- Tim

CATenWolde13 Jun 2005 10:35 a.m. PST

I love pdf's for the simple reasons that I can get them 24 hours later to satisfy my impulse buying, haven't shelled out big bucks if something doesn't work out, have easy access to the rules on my laptop if they do work out, and can avoid the @[&*! shipping charges (and shipping time)to Helsinki. All of those factors outweigh the price of printing for me.

Goldwyrm13 Jun 2005 10:35 a.m. PST

elsyrsyn wrote "and the cost of my time printing and putting together a rulebook from an electronic version exceeds the cost of buying rules in print."

I don't really buy this. Hitting the print button, then slapping on a binder clip takes virtually no time and very little expense. If you're having these things printed up at a print shop and bound, yes, but doing that defeats the purpose of buying a pdf anyway.

Your assumption is that if a customer wants a hardcopy they have a color printer w/duplexing, a stack of good quality paper, and a binder clip standing by. Like most people I do not have a color duplexing printer in my house. For between $15 USD and $50 USD I can buy a thick rulebook with a color cover, thick double sided pages and maybe even some inside color pages, i.e. a quality product. The value of a pdf is subjective based on the customer. Printing 100+ pages of anything myself is a hassle that is not worth my saving a few dollars over.

freewargamesrules13 Jun 2005 10:38 a.m. PST

I have bought numerous PDF files and will continue to do so. They are cheaper for the producer to distribute and they get more of the profit. I too save money by printing them out myself.

I have bought several sets of rules I wouldn't have purchased if bound because of the cheaper price.

The only catch I have found is when they are electronically encoded to only appear on 1 machine. Upon re-installing a new disk drive I found 1 PDF would not open as I only had 1 licence for it.

MongooseMatt13 Jun 2005 10:42 a.m. PST

Hi guys,

As a publisher who also uses and Drivethru, I was staggered by the popularity of PDFs. I always figured they were a marginal market but was fairly blown away when I saw the results. They are a very handy source of income which has _no_ impact on paper sales at all. People either love them or loathe them (personally, I am among the latter, though I can understand the appeal :)) so those who want PDFs will grab them while others (the traditionalists, shall we call them) will keep on buying paper releases. In short, you really have nothing to lose by using the PDF route.

Speaking of which. . .

Impressed with the work of RPGNow and Drivethru, Mongoose has been setting up something similar dedicated to wargames and miniatures games, and we are just putting the finishing touches to it now. Whether you are an established manufacturer or someone who has been looking for a way to unleash his creation on the rest of the world, it could be a good venue for your works - and we speak with some experience in the field. We hope to go online with it in a week or so.

If anyone is interested, drop me a line at and I would be happy to tell you of our experiences.

shadow king13 Jun 2005 10:57 a.m. PST

I have got all my THW stuf as PDF's and we can be heroes also on the format great stuff. And the price is right too, a good plastic folder book and its there. I would buy more of other peoples rules if they were available on the net is so easy.


The Pied Piper13 Jun 2005 11:16 a.m. PST

I'm not keen. It only takes one person to buy a set at a club, then hey-presto, with the click of a button the file can be emailed to all your mates and everyone prints them off with no return for the author.

And please don't give the excuse that a rule book can be scanned-in or photocopied anyway, as this will be considerably more work than just emailing a ready-made PDF or printing 10 copies with a couple of mouse clicks.

TheStarRanger13 Jun 2005 11:38 a.m. PST

"I'm not keen. It only takes one person to buy a set at a club, then hey-presto, with the click of a button the file can be emailed to all your mates and everyone prints them off with no return for the author."

But how many of those club members would actually have bought the rules? How many lost sales were there?

Most people selling non-copy protected PDFs expect that there will be some loss doe to giving away copies after one person purchased it, but I often hear how it really doesn't turn out to be much of a problem. Most gamers have decent morals and do buy copies they found out. Plus the extra sales brought by this format more than offset any losses from piracy.

PDFs will not replace paper versions, I think they supplement the market. Small companies who could never release anything can now produced games and distribute them at a resonable price. Even with the lower sale price, the amount that goes back the the author is much higher than any type of printed version going through distributors and game stores. I also hear of people getting both the paper and the PDF version. The paper is good to brows but the PDF is much more moble, especially if you travel or are in a war zone, you can bring your whold gaming library with your laptop. Also you can search the PDF.

People who won't even look at a PDF have made their choice and I feel it is their loss. There is some interesting stuff out there that would never have seen the light of day if this technology wasn't around

Meiczyslaw13 Jun 2005 11:51 a.m. PST

I have four laptops in my home, each with a wireless connection. This makes use of PDFs without printing a viable option.

The key, really, is how expensive they are. I'm willing to pay $20 USD for one of GW's army list books because of the physical full-color glossy photographs. You're not going through the trouble of printing out those photographs with a PDF - in fact, you're better off not having them at all because of rendering issues - so I'm not paying more than $10 USD for a similarly-sized product.

As for printing ... there's a color laser printer in my future. They're under $500 USD at this point.

mlicari13 Jun 2005 12:15 p.m. PST

No way. I'm not going to pay for rules and then pay again to print them myself (or both to sit down an figure out how to print them so they look profesional).

Disribution of games this way is for free rules. If I'm paying, I want the full production effort.

Blind Old Hag Fezian13 Jun 2005 12:43 p.m. PST

Yes, I have bought PDFs and will continue to do so in the future. I can buy rules that I may not otherwise buy in a full production fluffy printed version. There is a limit though. Anything beyond 50 pages or so and I probably won't buy it in PDF form.

ghostdog13 Jun 2005 1:05 p.m. PST

As ever, please excuse my english.

Yes, I buy pdfs. In fact, I am currently triying to buy baptism of fire in pdf.

I live in spain, so if I buy a pdf from a american or new zeland company, I save a lot of money in p&p.

I have bought some encrypted pdfs, chaosium books, but I had a lot of problems with my adobe acrobat reader.

I had bought some pdfs from too fat lardies, very excellent (and very fast) service. They live in uk, I live in spain, and in less than half an hour, I sended my request, they sended me a paypal email, and I got my rules.

When the pdf is a short one, letīs say less than 50 pages, I find that printing them itīs very affordable. But if you have to print a 200 page ruleset, as too many RPG, between the pdf cost and printing cost you pay a lot more than just buying the printed book

Of course, as its very posible that you need to print the whole ruleset or part of it, pdf should be cheapest than a printed rulebook.

And about illegal distribution: I have seen tons of rpgs scanned in emule, and a lot of rules, too. This would be happen either you publish them in pdf or not. But if you can get the rules easy and fast for a few dollars, you wonīt waste your time searching for it in emule.

with the average wargame ruleset, I think that in many wargame club people donīt buy a lot of copies; they just buy one and then photocopy it.

little o13 Jun 2005 1:15 p.m. PST

I just bought issues 1-50 of Wargames Illustrated in PDF on two cds for the low price of $1 USD an issue. These are just scanned so the quality of some pics is slightly grainy, but I would have been hard pressed to hunt down all the issues and pay $3 USD or so each for the lot. Just in the first 20 issues I have a month of reading. Look to Too Fat Lardies for some really nice work on PDF. They are figuring out how to use Adobe to its' fullest. As to printers, I can often get mine to print about 750-1000 pages on a single black cartridge, so 100 pages would run about $3. USD

I Jim I13 Jun 2005 1:32 p.m. PST

One thing nobody mentioned is that the print version can be resolded, legally that is. The PDF versions can't. (can they?)

So for me the calculation is something like the folowing:

Print Value (PV): what I would pay for a laser printed three ring binder bound set of rules. (This what I usual do if I print out rules myself.)

Resale Val (RV): how much could I get selling a used copy.

Production Cost (PC): How much it costs me to print-out, hole punch and bind in terms of time and materials. (e.g., paper ink, three-ring binder.)

PDF Value = PV - RV - PC;

Sentient Bean13 Jun 2005 3:04 p.m. PST

I recently bought the original D&D Rules Cyclopedia for about 5 bucks aussie from RPGNOW.... and printed the whole thing (double sided printing) off at work! (insert evil laugh here).

I'll only ever buy a pdf if the publication has been out of print for awhile.

The only inconvience for me was the laborious task of putting 150 odd pages into loose leaf plastic sheath thingamigigs.

Ur of Persia13 Jun 2005 3:06 p.m. PST

PetetheWargamer>>I'm not keen. It only takes one person to buy a set at a club, then hey-presto, with the click of a button the file can be emailed to all your mates and everyone prints them off with no return for the author.

You are making the assumption that you are going to lose sales here. I really wish more ebook publishers will speak up, I believe they can reassure you that overall you probably end up making more money.

Wargaming is an international although still a niche hobby these days, however a lot of good products either dont make it to the shores of countries outside of the US/UK or have grossly inflated prices due to shipping and/or other taxes. Mail order can also sometimes be a hit and miss affair to some countries. Releasing something in PDF means folks most anywhere in the world get a chance to get the same product near instantly at the same price. Its cheap enough that folks dont feel the heart pain if the rules turn out to be not quite what you are looking for, and it doesnt turn into a white elephant when its only taking up bits and bytes on your harddisk. On the other hand, some published wargaming books are just so lacking in visual appeal, almost spartan formating, looks, Fonts only your Father would use and no pics save B/W diagrams illustrating movement and contact...geez I much rather purchase an ebook version of these. Remember the other thread on Raising the Bar? Walk into Borders today go look at the gaming book shelf, you are going to see lots of full-coloured glossy insert 288 page books vying for your gaming money. Sure, substance before looks but looks *does* sell and sometimes its what sells the most.

riksha13 Jun 2005 4:19 p.m. PST

I like PDFs and have bought a couple, but I think there are some very good issues raised here. They might work better for some people and some products better than others.

My main gripe is the price. For example, Two Hour Wargames sells their PDFs for 1 dollar less than buying the book. $1 USD to me doesn't account for the difference in printing costs. I guess I feel like they should cost maybe a few dollars each, and the cheaper price would increase the number of purchases and decrease the amount of illegal copying.

My 2 cents.


jgibbons13 Jun 2005 5:15 p.m. PST

Instant gratification... Gotta love it!


MelEbbles13 Jun 2005 5:32 p.m. PST

I sell PDFs of cardstock scenery, and I've been around people who sell PDF games as well. I can say there *is* a market for PDF gaming content, and it gets bigger every year.

You really do have to understand that market-these potential customers, for the most part, are people who don't mind using their printers, and who enjoy the instant gratification, convenience, and easy upgrading that PDF content offers. PDF and print are apples and oranges, they serve different segments of the market and address different needs.

The folks who complain about the cost of printing and so forth aren't in the target market for PDFs anyway. The people in the target market for PDFs know exactly what they're buying: the creative works of the author, which they'll have to print out at additional cost. That's what the original price tag is for, the time and energy spent transferring the author's thoughts and creative energy into something that others can appreciate and make use of.

If people quail at the thought of paying the author for his work, then they don't want the product badly enough to buy it anyway, and they can be safely excluded from the target market.

The people who regularly buy PDFs are already aware of the added costs of printing and labor, and if they're buying the PDF, they either don't mind doing so or they have a way to make use of the content without printing.

The argument that PDFs should be a fraction of the cost of a printed product to compensate for the lack of a physical version is dubious to the end, the real worth of a PDF lies in what the target market is comfortable with paying. The folks making that argument, again, aren't in the target market.

As for the piracy's really simple. If you make people feel like they got their money's worth and make it easier to be a customer than a pirate, then I can assure you there are far more people willing to spend money on your products than there are people who want the 100% discount.

This is also something that you basically have to go into knowing exactly to whom you'll be selling. So if you know that the larger part of your existing customer base doesn't like PDFs for any of the reasons previously stated, then your product isn't going to do very well in PDF format.

However, if the majority of your customer base is composed of people who regularly buy PDFs for gaming purposes, your product will likely do a lot better. It all boils down to selling your product in the right format to the right people, be it print or PDF.


Sentient Bean13 Jun 2005 5:59 p.m. PST

I have a collection of over 50 gigs worth of PDF's for all the various RPG's, Wargames, comics and computer games manuals I own.

Mostly, I use PDF to "perserve my purchase".

I've bought a stack of GW, Fasa, R.L Talsorian, TSR and Steve Jackson Games (to name but a few) material over the last 15 years.

I've scanned 90% of my collection into the PDF format. The other 10% has literally worn out. Where rulebooks and the like have worn out, I've either bought the product in PDF form from RPGNOW (most recently the D&D Rules Cyclopedia) or have "illegally" downloaded a copy from a peer to peer network if the work is out of print and is unavailable for PDF purchase.

On the issue of peer to peer (hijack alert), I own the original product (even though it's crumbling and moldy!) so I feel justified in having a backup.

Ratbone13 Jun 2005 9:22 p.m. PST

You can solve the cost issue by determining approximately how much it will cost to print the thing. You'll have to find an average per page printing cost (I'm sure a few minutes research online would produce this data) for a typical end user, then add that to the PDF purchase cost. Compare that to either your full printed bound book sale price. If it's cheaper by a decent percentage, then I, and probably many other folks will buy it. For example, if it costs me 10 bucks US to print (counting electricity, ink, paper, etc the rules, and the PDF was 10 bucks (big ruleset here), then it has cost me 20 bones to get the rules (need a usable hardcopy, that's reality). If the book costs 30 bucks at the store, I saved 10 bucks. This is a good deal. If the book costs 25 or even 20 bucks, I feel ripped off because not only did I save little or nothing, I didn't support my local store and I have more wear and tear on my hardware at home, plus storage space on my computer.

Note I support my stores as much as possible, but if discounts are too big, I can't afford to subsidize. I can handle "losing" 10 percent or even 15, maybe 20 percent on cost, but the area of 20 percent more, or 20 percent less, is where my local store starts losing the sale. All individual case basis.

So if I can get a thing for 10 dollars at my store and 8 dollars online (counting shipping!! very important) I'll just use the store. But if it's 100 at the store and 80 online, I'm saving a good amount of cash there.

Sentient Bean13 Jun 2005 10:14 p.m. PST

I think that the whole cost issue is a bit of a smokescreen, really. No offence intended.

I use a PDA to view my PDF files. Others use laptops. Lots more print their copies out at work. Most just print the necessary pages out on their home printer. By necessary I mean the 10-20 or so pages of army list/actual rules material needed for a game.

So really, there is no great expense. Ratbone, factoring in electricity into the cost of a PDF is like factoring in my bus ticket or pertol cost in getting the the store.

Im all for the local shop owner. I buy my minis at inflated prices at my local store because I like to be able to see a 3D product before I buy it.

I like pdf because it gives speculators and the collectors market a kick in the backside. You can purchase books out of print for years for a fraction of the cost that you'd have to shell out on EBAY.

Billiam13 Jun 2005 10:34 p.m. PST

I buy PDFs almost exclusively now. Advantages:

1. Cost. Not only do most companies provide a discount from their printed works (up to 50%), but there are also no shipping charges. This is extremely important for me living in the U.S., as many rulesets I'm interested in are from British publishers.

2. Availability. Publishing a printed book is expensive and risky, so many good rulesets never get published. PDFs allow small publishers to actually publish and have their ideas available. I admit that it makes it easier to publish junk, but I've purchased some pretty stinky printed rules in the past as well. The Net makes reviewing new material a snap, so you can do some research before buying.

3. Convenience. You get the book now, no waiting for the post. Errata can be fixed by providing a new document (just reprint the dozen pages that had mistakes).

4. Flexibility. You can only print the rules, leaving the fluff digital. Charts can be printed on cardstock and you can easily print-off consumable charts.

5. Ease of storage. If I don't choose to print it off, there is nothing to store (a back-up disk might be a good idea, and 50+ rulesets could be stored on a disk).

PDFs really work for me (though it helps having a laser printer, where I get down to 4.5 cents for a double-sided page).

aka Mikefoster13 Jun 2005 10:46 p.m. PST

This came uop for me recently I was looking to pick up a book from Dream pod 9 and I saw it in PDF Format from an agent of theirs. I ended up getting the same set of rules from a FLGS for $5.00 USD cheaper. Got lucky on my part. In the case of Some of these companies I would be more inclines to buy the PDF version of rules if there were updated and corrected when needed and when the PDF's are updated I do not have to pay to get the corrected rule sets.

The Midge13 Jun 2005 11:08 p.m. PST

I find PDF the best way to buy less common oversees books and rules. No post, customs and delay.

One advantage that has not been mentioned is that it is possible to print off extra reference sheets and statsheets with out either breaking the spine of a bound book or creating a distorted photocopy.

Question to PDF authors and producers:
Do you feel happy about a purcahser printing a spare copy so they can use it with an opponent?

On principple, I wouldn't 'give' copies away- I design landscapes for living and understand the value of intellectual property. It is worth far more than the paper it is printed on.

maxxon14 Jun 2005 12:07 a.m. PST

Yes, I buy PDFs. Quite often, in fact.

But I do expect the price to reflect the production costs.

And if I ever were to publish a commercial rule set, I'd publish it as PDF (but more likely I'd just give it away as PDF).

toofatlardies14 Jun 2005 6:19 a.m. PST

We began producing our rule sets and supplements in pdf format about a year ago, and have found that it has been very well received. I would say that 90% of our sales are now in this format, and this has led us to produce some products solely in this fashion.

The key reasons for this are that a pdf file can get to the other side of the world in minutes, not days or weeks. It is much cheaper than hard copy, and if you are like me and fancy a look at a set of rules without taking out a second mortgage that is a tremendous advantage. As we have discovered, a good pdf document can do so much more than a paper one, For example our recent scenario/campaign supplement covering Greece in 1940 is an interactive document. The text contains live links that will take the reader to web sites that are of relevance to the text, and thereby allow him to find out more.

In our forthcoming Summer Special the adverts will also contain links to the traders so that if you are reading the magazine while connected you can click to view their web site, something a paper copy can never do. What's more the two Specials we produce a year are over 100 pages of articles and scenarios, there is no way we could produce that economically in hard copy even if it was all black and white, but in pdf you get a magazine with colour photos for five pounds.

With supplements, scenarios and the magazines we have found that people often tell us they just print out the bit they need for a particular game, or an article that they want to refer to in hard copy, rather than the whole thing.

In all we view it as an opportunity to get our products to a wider range of people for as little cost to them and us as possible, and with a minimal wait. Feedback from customers has been universally positive. As to intellectual property, perhaps I'm not that bright - nobody seems to have nicked it yet!

Inmate 92882914 Jun 2005 7:38 a.m. PST

I'll buy PDFs for small pieces or individual modules. But, for core rule books, I prefer a nice bound book. Guess I'm just an oldster.

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