If they want to sell directly to me, I do not care, but they had better drop their price to me since they are removing two middlemen. If they don't that will also make me stop buying. So I am definitely interested in seeing what is going to be said in the "State of the Mongoose".
I am going to take you to task on this
It may not be commmon knowledge (though, given the world economy, I would venture it should be obvious), but every RPG company you care to name, bar _maybe_ one or two (I caveat that, as I heard recently how many copies a supplement for a _very_ well known and supported RPG sold - if I divulged that, it would _stun_ you how few were sold), is fighting for its life right now.
You lot (you know... them
) have stopped buying books, retailers have closed down or switched product lines, while costs on _everything_ have risen.
Hand on my heart, if Mongoose had not gone back to miniatures (a slightly more stable market) we would likely have folded two years ago. Things are that tight with RPGs.
Producing your average 256 page hardback, even in black and white, takes a lot more resources than you might think. It goes way beyond the high four figure printing mark. The writer will take another four figures. Art is likely to take more. Editing and proofreading all take their chunk. And that is before a single book leaves the building; I haven't gone into fixed and ancilliary costs like someone to organise which book goes where, packing materials, electricity, phones, and all the other things that make a company work.
We then have to knock off 60% from the cover price to get them into distribution - but that is not the biggest issue. The main problem is that we have x number of books from the print run sitting in our warehouse for months on end. Every one of them represents a few Dollars tied up and inaccessible to the company. Sure, they will sell... over the next 4-5 years, but companies need money now, not way in the future.
When the distribution network constricts, this problem becomes acute. Cash flow stalls, and _that_ is what kills companies more than anything else. Ultimately it is what killed all those games companies of old. Remember Guardians of Order?
There comes a point when you have to start being very careful about what goes to large scale printing. If we did this with all RPG products, we would simply run out of money. Suitable analogy: Driving a car at high altitude, where cash is oxygen and the engine simply starves for breath - right now, the RPG industry is pretty high up in the Andes.
So, you switch to digital printing (and we started this about five years ago, relying on it more and more as time went on). Each book now costs more to print individually, but the overall bill is lower as you no longer need to print so many - this eases cash flow.
But then the market continues to slide downwards to the point where you might not be making any money at all on books going through distribution - remember, those writers, artists and layout guys all still need paying and their rates DO NOT CHANGE dependant on whether the book goes to print or stays electronic.
On the flip side, ebook sales are accelerating nicely - but they are nowhere near the point where they can support a company by themselves (and I say this as one of the larger vendors on Drivethru). In a couple of years, maybe, but the problems we face are happening now, not then.
Your suggestion is that I should cut the price of our books? Remove what little margin remains? Speaking honestly, I would be better off giving you a Pound and thanking you for your support in the past.
One way or another, you will always be able to get a hardcopy of our books. If you have a philosophical issue with what is being charged for them, then I am _very_ sorry to lose you as a customer. But there is no choice in the present climate. What you are suggesting would finish off RPGs altogether for us.
You actually support my pint. If you stop selling via game stores, and go to primarily selling direct to me, and your other customers, you are changing the fundamental pricing model books have operated under for many decades. You, and other companies like Kenzer, claim to charge us full retail when we buy direct from you because you say you would rather we buy from the stores, so keep your price high to support the stores.
If you change your stance, and sell to us direct, and tell the stores "Good luck!" then you no longer have the justification of charging us full retail. You yourself just stated you add 60% to the retail cost to account for the cuts you give to the distribution chain.
So if you continue to charge us full retail, when selling direct to us is your new priority, then yes, you, and any RPG company who does the same, will lose me as a customer.
Bottom line is I already have far more than enough RPG books to game for the rest of my life. I am already doing any RPG company I buy books from a big favor, because I am buying something I absolutely do not NEED.
I primarily buy Traveller from you. I have two copies of the core book and I own all but 3 or 4 books you have put out so far, including the maps. I also already own tons of Traveller material put out, primarily Classic and MegaTraveller. The ONLY reason I have been buying your books is for convenience. You guys have compiled, reformatted, and reorganized all of that material into all these nice books. I don't buy these books because I don't already have the material, some where. I buy it because you make any info I want easier to find, easier to put together.
I've already debated with myself, many times to quit buying RPG books. Not just yours, but everyone's. Why? Because the books do cost a lot. So to be smart with my money I should only buy books I NEED. I bought the books I need to play all the RPG's I like, Legend of the 5 Rings, Eclipse Phase, Castles and Crusades, Cthulhu Tech, Supernatural, Savage Worlds, etc... as soon as I bought the core book, or books, for each RPG. Whether those books are print or PDF, I do not need any book after the core. I easily spend over $1,000 each and every year buying RPG stuff. I then spend 1 to $2,000 more each year going to conventions, usually with my wife and kids.
I spent nearly $200 this month alone buying two of your books and two Legend of the 5 Rings products. Their new Second City boxed set took up nearly half of that money by itself ($70.00 US) Did I NEED any of these books to play L5R or Traveller? Heck no.
Not too long ago I spent over $300 US on Reapers Kickstarter mini's package. This year I am already over $1,400 spent on RPG products, and I still have November and December to go!
I spend a lot of time thinking about what my family could have done instead with all that money, despite the fact that we game together. Day trips, Camping trips, an extra vacation, going out to more movies, having dinner out one or two times more per month, etc...
So after writing this, I guess it just comes down to one simple fact. I think I am just looking for a good reason to stop buying so much RPG stuff. So simply put, if I get that good reason to stop, I'll take it.
So go ahead, do what you feel you need to do, because I will do the same. Its only fair. I already have far more than I need from you to play Traveller, Judge Dredd, Conan, etc... for the rest of my life. Its not like I will truly miss out on anything I cannot do without. Hopefully the flip side is true for you, you don't need me for your company to stay alive. Looks like we will be finding out.