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Tabletop QOTD 2020-03-31

Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

How do sales affect your buying habits (especially on digital offerings)? Do you value the writing less than having the physical books?

"$20 for a PDF" is a quote that I hear all the time, and I know that I know that I've been guilty of the same thoughts. After all, it's an electronic document, right? But when you look at the rate for artists, writers, layout designers, editing- the only thing different in delivering the PDF is the fact that it doesn't have to go through printing. So I've been trying to adjust my thinking in that regard. In terms of boardgames, I tend to stay away from PnP, so it's never been a consideration for me. The few PnP that I have, I haven't really played.

As far as sales, I'll buy a lot that I was on the fence about given a bundle of holding or humble bundle- and many things that I've never even considered. I don't necessarily wait for sales anymore- something that I did before on many more products.

#Tabletop #QOTD

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It really does depend on the item, as well as the price.

I recently picked up the Adventures in Middle-earth PDFs via Bundle of Holding; those were books I'm only slightly interested in, since I don't particularly want to play D&D in Middle-earth, and would never have bought in print or as full-price PDFs, but at Bundle pricing I'm happy to add them to the reference library. (Especially since they're probably disappearing soon with the loss of Cubicle 7's license.)

There are other books I wouldn't buy at any price, and books I'd happily buy at their regular price. The sale is a factor, but not the only one.

As for physical vs. PDF, again there are some books where I want both, and some where just having a PDF for reference is fine.
When the difference is between $20 and $50 I will generally go for the PDF every time.

That said the number of gaming books I have bought lately has been rather small as there is less out there that interests me than used to. There is a glut of repetitive content or simply old content reworked in many cases, or what I felt could be handled in a 10 page update rather than redoing a complete basic book.

I have one mass market pair of books I'm thinking about that got a new edition.... and it's been 20 years since the edition I have which is the only reason I'm considering the updated version.... but even then I am balking at laying out $100 for what cost me $30 back then. No PDF version except when you buy the hardcover is annoying, and thats why so far its all unpurchased.
If you can keep their record safely, there is something to say for the ease of moving a library that's in electronic format.
As usual, it depends.

I have an emotional attachment to physical books. I like and prefer them, mostly. However, practicality rears its head.

I accept ebooks most readily for prose. The do well in this format, to the point that about 15 months ago I gave away 14 bankers boxes full of paperbacks I had ebooks for, mostly because I needed the shelf space.

For technical works -- and I include most RPG books in this category -- I want to read physical copy. I don't like reading a lot on my tablet, mostly for readability reasons, and I'm not really fond of sitting at my desk reading a book, even with the 4k monitor. I have printed out many PDFs for that reason. My technical -- programming, database, and RPG -- library is... pretty big. And very heavy.

However, I do find a well-crafted PDF very useful as a reference work, and make great use of them there. I sometimes get the hard copy for reading and the PDF for utility, in fact.

Price-wise... PDFs are cheaper. I have bought $20 PDFs. I have sold $60 PDFs (_Echelon Reference Series: Sorcerer/Wizard Spells is about 1,000 pages and has literally thousands of spells... I want to say about 4,000 spells, but I'd have to go back and count -- mechanically, in source, not by hand).

I mostly watch for them to be on sale, though, either an event at OBS or a Bundle of Holding or something. My backlog is big enough that I don't feel a real need to grab something as soon as it's published. Usually.
Definitely an "it depends" for me. Some publishers I need to have the physical books, but some I don't particularly care.
I almost never buy physical RPG books. The kinds of games I play are typically short-ish and don't usually need much reference, and in any case I would hate stopping play to go find some rule or whatever.

From my point of view, digital versions are better: price, practicality, shelf space, environment.


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I have a Chromebook with an 11" screen. PDFs just do not cut it. I sometimes buy PDFs if I just want to have a look. I wish it worked so that if you buy the PDF as a preview you then get a discount if you move onto the printed copy but that isn't the way they work.
As for bundles - the last time I bought one it took me months to unwind all the promotional emails that kept popping up for products I wasn't interested in and never downloaded. Never again.
I like having both - a searchable PDF for GM use at the table, and a physical book for players to reference. Because of this I'm a HUGE fan of Bits & Mortar, and am much more likely to buy books from folks on that list than I am from anyone else.
Despite the many advantages of PDFs, I still prefer owning the physical book. A book that comes with a free or cheap PDF is perfect.

I do buy PDFs, but mostly in Humble Bundles (which are a great way to get tons of stuff from a system I'm somewhat interested in but am unlikely to run in the short term), or when it's something I really want and only exists as PDF.

On the other hand, in my current Shadowrun campaign, for which I bought a ton of books, I find myself using PDFs more and more. Many of the short adventures I run exist only on PDF, and that seems to be the gateway for me to do more with PDFs.

And A4-size e-reader would help a lot, though.
On the one hand, I'm more aware of the games that have higher sales. Well, that have more market penetration. Everyone knows D&D; it's one of the few RPGs that ever ascended to "household name" status. It's also the one most likely to be found in your average mall bookstore.

Of course, that's a feedback loop: get on bookstore shelves, get more sales. But that takes a heaver investment; you have to print more books that may not sell at all...

I'm more likely to be aware of specific company products. Monte Cook's products, for example, seem to hit my awareness more than most publishers.

But I don't follow the various blogs, podcasts, etc. that would keep me in the know of product releases or product reviews, so I'm not the best source to go to.

I used to buy RPGs because they looked interesting. Now, I wouldn't buy in unless I already had a group willing to at least try the game.
I like physical books but I also like sales. I tend to only buy physical games when they go on sale and only if they are at least 30% off. I prefer to read physical copies of books from cover to cover.

Where I like digital versions of RPGs is for reference sake, same with board game rulebooks. In that case though the PDF better be searchable. None of this we just scanned all the pages BS in 2020.