There was a tempest in a teacup over at the Frog God's latest Kickstarter, Quests of Doom 4. The adventures are being offered only in softcover and a vocal minority of backers were demanding a hardcover option.
The reality of hard cover publishing that isnt Print on Demand is that you can't just print a handful of copies. You need significant numbers to bring the cost per book down, and when publishing for three systems the math become even harder.
Leave it to +Bill Webb to explain the economics behind the latest decision:
Hey all--Bill here.
I understand the thoughts behind the hardcovers--but just so you know; we hire top writers (Ed fricking Greenwood!), hire top artists (Terry Pavlett, among many), and hire top cartographers (Alyssa Fadden and Robert Altbauer).
I also got a ton of feedback that fans needed a lower price point buy in (those pain in the butt surveys we ask you to do on backerkit actually do drive how we deliver products). I also got feedback from a majority of our fans that people wanted shorter "portable" books so that at the table they could play with a module rather than carry a 300 page book around.
And finally, the main reason is simple economics--we cannot afford to do short adventure compilations in three systems. Publishing short adventures costs a bunch more than big sourcebooks. We have been seriously working in the adventure market for some time, and we just don't sell enough of them to maintain that $3-5 pricepoint for each of them that we did in the first few QOD books. Not if we want to pay writers a fair wage.
We would need to sell at least 300 sets of each version to make it worth printing the hardcovers (that is because minimum print runs on library bound hardcovers is 500). So really, what this means is we can either a) sell only pdfs or PODs, b) only make 5e modules (we sell a lot more 5e than the other two systems) or c) do what we are doing now.
We have actually lost money doing the QOD books for SW and Pathfinder, and as you can tell from the add-on sales, we have a lot of extra inventory left over (and the compilations are GREAT books, cheap--so everyone should get them--I especially love QOD 1's ant adventure!).
So why do we still do adventures? Well, I personally like them. I think they offer the best bang for the buck of any book besides a rulebook. I built Necro and FGG both on adventures, and we will continue to make them as long as folks buy them. I also want to make SW books (I play SW, and so do many of my friends) and Pathfinder books (our long time Pathfinder fans deserve books as well). Simply put, we need to be able to order how many we need and not 500 of them.
Now, on core books (like Bards Gate, the Blight, etc.)--we sell way more books than we sell of short adventures. Those will continue to be made in baseball bat-proof hardcovers because we want to do them that way. So don't worry about that. I too, love hardcover books; so we will not abandon them for our main product lines.
That being said, I still want to make short adventures a couple times a year.
In other news--the books will likely have page counts of approximately 24-60, depending on title and system (PF is a lot bigger). So they are still a pretty darn good deal at the price--especially when you get the 16 unit lot.
I think everyone understands the 32 and 48 book buys---that is for the completionist customers who want 2-3 game systems of the total set.
ps--We also targeted the adventure levels based on customer feedback (you all said no more low or super high level stuff--so we went mid-level in response (that one was over 80% on the surveys).
These adventures are solid, with something for every gamer. From the FR feel of Ed to the creepy, surreal style of Lance, combat heavy Curtis adventure, and thinking man nature-based Sustarre, and I think all of our fans know how Tom writes. Every one of these 16 adventures will get use and is useful to a GM running games that last 2-3 sessions before moving on to the next thing.
BillThere you have it. From the Frog's mouth.