I think you’ve really nailed a few things here – the perceived value of digital vs. physical products, the (comparatively) inflated value of artistry, and the consumer’s desire to “cut out the middle man” when it comes to these types of products.
…Though I think I may have inferred more than what you said. ^^;;;
– Dither 2013-09-26 17:24 UTC
I think it’s a fair summary.
– AlexSchroeder 2013-09-26 17:46 UTC
For me, a digital product is worth more than a printed product. If it’s properly index, bookmarked and hyperinked it’s worth a lot more. I simply don’t want to lug books around, store them and have to deal with them. And PDF’s can be searched and bookmarked and annotated.
Looking at it as merely the cost of duplication and media is a little 20th century. After all, movies and music can be copied digitally for nearly no expense either.
I look on products and think about how much use I’m going to get out of them. A module might only be good for a few nights worth of entertainment, but a game system or major supplment will be used for years.
– Philo Pharynx 2013-09-26 21:31 UTC
I’m with Philo. I find a PDF to be MORE useful than most rulebooks, IF the PDF is properly indexed, bookmarked, and hyperlinked. Far too many of them aren’t, betraying the amateur approach of their publishers. Nor are they properly layered or compressed. I typically spend 10-30 minutes on many of the PDFs I download, both for free and for pay, getting them into the shape they should have been in before I clicked the Download button. I look forward to the day when enough publishers understand what can be done with PDFs and how to do it that I no longer need to do their work for them to make their publications really useful.
– Steve Winter 2013-09-27 00:42 UTC
I’m not sure what to make of this. I agree with the benefits you listed—and the sometimes lacking implementation thereof. How do you explain the perceived unwillingness for people to pay for expensive PDFs? Is the observation simply not true? Or do these people not value them as much as you do? Or do you value your PDFs but end up not being willing to pay twenty, thirty or more Dollars for a PDF? Questions, questions, as I’m trying to understand the PDF market.
– AlexSchroeder 2013-09-27 09:18 UTC
I buy based on content. If I like what you offer enough I’ll pay $20-$30 bucks for it. I recently bought Numenera for $20. Less than a nickel a page. Okay, I don’t expect to get that kind of deal often. I’ve bought Paizo’s Pathfinder, and they provide their PDF products in four formats when you buy them. Standard, Standard 1 pdf per chapter, Low ink, and Low Ink 1 pdf per chapter. If they’d add a landscape formatted version, I’d marry the company. By the way, Numenera mentioned that the PDF was fully linked. A couple words in the description adds a lot of value to it for people like Steve and I
– PhiloPharynx 2013-09-27 13:00 UTC
I think consumers are still adjusting to the digital market as well – indexing, bookmarking, and hyperlinking are all important organizational tools that accompany content processing in the same capacity as copyediting. Every work stands to benefit from a good editor the same way every digital work stands to benefit from indexing, etc.
That’s probably where a degree of “artistry” can influence the value of the product. The PDF industry needs a Stan Lee to tote the heroics of the editor.
– Dither 2013-09-27 15:59 UTC
I found another discussion on Google+, this time by Joe Naylor. He wondered “I’d like to know what you think is a reasonable price for a PDF.” Once again I couldn’t stop myself from commenting.
I wrote: “I’m willing to pay more–a lot more–for things that aren’t available for free. In other words, practically nothing for OSR rules, classes, spells, small dungeons. Then there’s a big gap and I’m willing to pay $10–$20 for mini-campaigns and adventures and up to $30–$40 for a megadungeon I think I might want to run such as Rappan Athuk. The reason I’m willing to pay so much for the PDF is that buying them in print and shipping them to Switzerland will cost me $100–$120… Thus, if I am willing to buy the PDF, is still right: half the price of the print product. It’s just that I’m not willing to spend much on the low end of the scale as there is so much quality free stuff available.”
– AlexSchroeder 2013-10-11 09:27 UTC