Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pricing the PDF Product Properly and Profit - A Look at the Castle Keeper's Guide

I've seen some "loud" reactions to the pricing of the CKG in PDF on my blog, other blogs, forums... it isn't pretty. Amazingly enough, the feelings toward Troll Lord Games are still highly positive, but there is a bit of a disconnect in the PDF pricing of the Castle Keeper's Guide.

Lets look at how TLG has priced the 4 different releases of the CKG:

Hardcover - $39.99

Softcover - $29.99

Digest Size - $24.99

PDF - $31.99

In my opinion, the PDF version should never be priced more then a print version. TLG is selling the PDF at a 20% discount from the hardcover price, which still makes it roughly a 28% mark up from the digest size. Why buy it in PDF?

A better price would be a 20% discount from the digest size, putting it at $19.99. Of course, I'm just talking outa my ass, but that's what we bloggers do ;)


  1. It happens in the same way as eBooks. I laugh when I see the bookseller trying to get near full price of a paper book when its just a file. The sad thing is, if people pay the high price it gives companies justification to continue the practice.

    If people are willing to pay it, so goes the market; everyone will want to start charging higher.


  2. In Europe an ebook is charged full VAT (UK example: 20%) while the physical book is charged a reduced VAT (UK: 0%) so that explains some Amazon pricing...

    I suspect the Castle Keeper's Guide PDF at this point is more an advertisement for the print version than intended to be a moneymaking product on its own. At least I hope so...

  3. I work for a non-profit that is looking at moving some of its retail publications to e-pub format. I'm the controller of the company, so I've not been immersed in the details, but there are still costs involved in moving product to this format and making sure that total costs are still covered.

    Now $32 for a 208-ish page pdf seems a bit high to me, but I'm not sure of the particulars of TLG and their business model. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't buy it, but I don't think I have any C&C books anyway.

    My preference for game books anymore is for the company to bundle the hardcover & pdf (with the pdf only costing a fraction of the hardcover) for a reasonable amount when there is a wait for the hardcover (Catalyst Game Labs does this, not well, but they do it this way). Otherwise, I really don't want to pay more than $15 for a pdf.

    My $0.02. :)

  4. There's really no reason why a .pdf should ever be priced more than 5 or 10 dollars. High-priced .pdfs typically mean publishers are trying to use an electronic product to cover printing and art costs - not a very sound business strategy imo. A cheap .pdf is not only appropriate, its great way to introduce curious potential customers to your product, and sell more printed books. I could even see $20 if you're a small, independent publisher. $32 for a .pdf? Ridiculous, and C&C fans are quite justified in expressing their dissatisfaction.

    As a matter of fact, after how long it took to even release this particular book, you'd think TLG would've released the .pdf for FREE just wipe a bit of the egg of their faces :)

  5. 'Print for profit, PDFs for turnover' is the publishing industry maxim. TLG should've priced down the PDFs and included extra stuff in the print version.

    They could still do this with a 2nd printing. But that could be too late. This smacks of a lost opportunity.

  6. Al: What if you only produced electronic PDF files in the 50 to 80 page range? I'd lose my shirt at $5.00 and could no longer afford to pay to have the component parts created.

  7. The PDF pricing TOO high! Unless it is full color throughout it should not be higher than $9.99. Paizo's Pathfinder corebook is full color and over 500 pages an it is only $9.99. Softcover B&W books should not be more than $25. If you can do it for $20, even better especially if it is POD.


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