I had this thought on my mind yesterday as I was driving to (and back) from Connecticut: what is the magic PDF price point? I'm not talking about absolute price, as in "I'd never pay more then $7.50 for a PDF book", I'm talking more on the order of "What percentage of the 'Dead Tree' version of the product's price are you willing to pay for an electronic / PDF version?"
This is an important question. There are some folks out there that believe all PDF gaming material should be free, and it is certainly open to pirating (just like movies, music, and other electronic book formats). There are others that don't like PDFs at any price... I can understand that point of view. Then you have the other extreme: those of us that prefer the PDF format - even more so in my case as the iPad is an AMAZING PDF reader.
I'm going to throw my own magic price point into the mix - somewhere in the 40% to 60% range of the printed product, although it is a rule I've managed to break more then once. 60% for the lower priced books, 40% for the higher end of the spectrum.
If you read this blog on any sort of semi irregular basis, you know I'm keen on PDFs. I've always liked the format, or at least it's potential as a truly portable format that isnt stuck on your desktop or laptop screen. The Kindle DX was leaps and bounds closer to achieving that then we had ever been, and the iPad makes in a full blown reality. For me, PDFs are the key to my 21st century gaming library, tucked away on a portable device that takes up less space then the 1st Edition DMG.
If you aren't as portable in your reading medium for PDFs, their value to you may be less. Then again, if you are far from a game store they may be more valuable then the physical book. Each situation is different.
I like to find the really excellent gaming material that is made available for free from the companies themselves and share it with my readers. Not just because it is free, but because it meant to be read and used. In most cases, free PDFs from the named publishers are quality products aimed at showing your their works, in the hopes that you will buy further products from them, either hard copy or electronic. It is in their best interest to make it a quality experience.
Not everything can be free. When I started gaming in 1981 or so, the only free gaming material is what you or your friends wrote up themselves. These days, with the OSR, retroclones, quickstarts and other stuff, I could probably game for years for free on stuff others wrote. Yet I'd be shutting myself out from 95% or the hobby. I'd never experience the Indy publishers, the ones that push our hobby to the edge and then some.
Me, I enjoy my free and not-so-free PDFs. I find price to be less an issue then enjoyment.
Still, it took me a while to prefer PDF to dead tree. Where do you stand? What is your price point?
(Greg C. and I spoke a bit on this in email today- damn synergy at work ;)