confused about pdf prices
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Post Posted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 10:43 am 

I understand that RPGNow is a legitimate dealer that sells legal pdfs. It seems to me that the older 1st and 2nd edition D&D stuff is a good deal at around $5 per product, assuming the scans are decent quality. I'm a bit puzzled at the prices of the more modern d20 pdfs however.

I'll use Monster Manual 3 as an example, since it was the first thing I clicked on. RPGNow charges $34.95 for the download. I can purchase the actual book from for $23.07 and get free shipping if I buy one more item and go over $25.

I guess I don't understand the reasoning of charging more for a pdf than the price of the actual physical product.


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Post Posted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 11:20 am 

If you look at Amazon, they have 34.95 crossed out and 23.07 as their price.

Apparently, 34.95 is the suggested (MSRP) retail price.  WotC sells it (probably $15-20ish, I'm guessing) to various outlets, who can sell for whatever price they choose, although most places sell for MSRP or close to it (maybe -10%).  RPGNow is selling at the standard price.  Amazon is selling at an unusually large discount off the standard price, for whatever reason (overstocked, hoping for bulk sales, as a promo to get people used to using Amazon, etc), and taking very, very thin (if any) profit margin (remember they have personnel and other operating expenses on top of the estimated $15-20).  If you look at other people's prices for the physical book, you'll probably find most of them charging $34.95, too.

The Amazon price is a great deal.  If you want the item, take advantage.


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Post Posted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 1:35 pm 


You are absolutely right.

One would think that RPGNow and DriveThruRPG would want to make sales and get money.

They apparently don't.  The prices for their PDF's are generally about double what they should be...and possibly triple.  In many cases, the RPGNow price is the same as the Ebay price, saving the buyer only shipping.  For instance, Goodman's Belly of the Great Beast, the price on RPGNow is $8.99...only a marginal value over the Ebay store prices.  The same module is almost double that price on DriveThruRPG.

RPGNow recently had a buy-one-get-one "sale" which they built up for a month beforehand.

When the sale came, it was a very very small number of specific items offered as "new bundles."  I very politely let RPGNow know that this was surprising and disappointing.

From what they tell me, I suspect that selllers like RPGNow have their hands tied by publishers who feel that they cannot let their products go for cheap.  It is possible that active gamers are less likely to want the hard copy if they already have a PDF.  I don't know if they have considered the value of a line of their products actually in the public eye as opposed to not stocked at your friendly local game store.

I think that there is a perception in some publishers' minds that a PDF is at least 90% of the value of a hard copy.  For me, the value is about 10-20% of the hard copy value.  I suspect a lot of people share my view.

Some PDF files are in a legitimate price range.  The limited supply of Judges Guild products on DriveThruRPG is a good example of value.

It is not what I want, but I suspect that the high price of PDF files is part of what has driven the illegal availability of free game PDF's currently ready for download on the internet...sort of the same mistake the record companies made.

Mark  8)

"But I have watched the dragons come, fire-eyed, across the world."


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Post Posted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 2:01 pm 


I fully agree. In my opinion, the pdf price should be about 25% of the price of the hard copy.


Yes, the amazon price is good, but even if I had to pay full MSRP for the hard copy, I would still always choose the hard copy over the pdf for the same price. The price of the pdf would have to be *at least* 50% off MSRP (of the hard copy) before I would ever even consider purchasing it.

As things are now, it is actually less expensive to buy the book, cut the pages out, and scan it yourself vs buying the pdf from RPGnow.  :?


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Post Posted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 2:09 pm 

Course the good PDFs to buy are the ones you can copy text or do word searches in. Not some piss poor 'scan to pdf file' job.


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Post Posted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 3:26 pm 

A good thread and good points brought up by all.  You guys neglected to mention that the profit margin on PDFs is also larger ...there is no material costs, printing costs, storage, shipping, etc.  It's all gravy compared to ordering a print run.  I have no problems with our favourite publishers finding ways to make more money, but what do I get out of it?  Offering them at the same price makes no sense at all.   :roll:

No thanks, I'll buy the original hard copy please, and then a PDF falls under fair use.  That last bit being said, I am still willing to buy PDFs when I have the originals, so long as the publisher makes it easy and offers a value proposition.  A good case in point are the DCC CD compilations from Goodman.  I bought the 1st one even though I own all the DCCs to date.  You get 4 DCC PDFs packaged in what looks like a homespun CD with a laser printed jewel case insert, but hey it comes to $5 a module and you have something you can hold in your hands.

Anyways ...Cheers All!


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Post Posted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 4:31 pm 

The thing to keep in mind is that it is easy to sell a book when you are done with it, or if it sucks. Books have residual value, unlike PDF's. You COULD sell a purchased PDF, but you'd probably be lucky to find a buyer.

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Post Posted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 6:10 pm 

Doug Williams wrote:I understand that RPGNow is a legitimate dealer that sells legal pdfs. It seems to me that the older 1st and 2nd edition D&D stuff is a good deal at around $5 per product, assuming the scans are decent quality.

The quality of the older stuff is good and the prices are hard to beat.  I've downloaded PDFs of some favorite 1E and OD&D material to keep on a thumb drive.  

That way, they're handy when I'm somewhere I don't want to be (like the office or an in-law's house).


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