Monday, December 27, 2010

RPG Now Publishing

Monday marks the official release of the Print on Demand service by RPGNow. They did a soft release over the weekend to iron out any last minute issues. Meaning anybody could have bought PoD products but they didn't advertise it until Monday.

This post is about choosing between Lulu and RPGNow.

The great thing is now the two major PoD Competitor are easily available to RPG Publishers. The first is Lulu and the second is Lightning Source using the RPGNow front end.

The are pros and con for both. In general it is easier for a publisher to setup to print on Lulu. Being easy to use is Lulu's hallmark. It is also a webstore which means not only you can get stuff printed but also sold. All of this means that Lulu's has been the place to goto for small press publishers.

Lightning Source as a larger range of choices and better prices for color. The combination with RPGNow means now we have a webstore to use Lightning Source with and not just any webstore but the goto place for RPG PDFs.

But it is not the same and you going to have to look at both to see what is right for you. The biggest difference is the setup. Lightning Source is more finicky, RPGNow does a good job in preprocessing PDFs to let you know what the problems are. However unlike Lulu you won't just be able to post something and have it ready to print that day. It going to take time and for the first timers you probably going to need to go through a handful of back and forth before you get a print worthy pdf approved. Note approval is purely technical. My particular issues were image format and font embedding.

I will go into detail on this when I prepare Scourge of the Demon Wolf for publication. Part of the reason I haven't gotten it out is that I really really wanted to try printing it on RPGNow first. I am not happy with the half tone process used in b/w printing for Lulu (or Lightning Source) and want to try color with my greyscale maps. RPGNow/LS prices win hands down in color.

As for the site cut of the prince it is a wash between Lulu and RPGNow. They calculated differently and it not big enough to make a difference. The nice thing about the prices is that there is a fixed cost for the smallest sizes for a 8.5 by 11 b/w books up to 44 pages that cost is $2.18, up to 104 pages it is $ 3.46. A good deal to lulu's $5.34, publisher grade for 104 pages. Shipping costs seems reasonable even to countries outside the US.

The range of page size can be found here.

I will give further details as I find them. Note to fans of the Majestic Wilderlands who are outside the US, MW is available in PoD from RPGNow. Check it out see if you can get a better deal than Lulu. Let me know as I want to make by product easily available worldwide in print.

I will end to say that the availability of PoD publishing through RPGNow could mark the beginning of a revolution in our hobby. Off of the top of my head nothing now needs to go out of print as the availability of the Great Pendragon Campaign (and other Chaosium products) now show. What would be interesting is companies drawing on their fanbases to make print ready files of beloved older editions and making them available in print again.

In addition the cost of small publishers drops again. While Lulu in of itself is nearly the same, RPGNow is oriented towards gamers and has a much higher visibility among the community. Another interesting features down the pike may to allow confirmed retailers to order books at a lower cost. Turning RPGnow into a quasi-distributor. While the number are not as good as a offset printing it would allow smaller publishers to get their products distributed into brick and mortar stores. The problem in the past has been retailers don't have the time to order from dozens of publishers. They need distributors manage the flow of products for accounting. Now with RPGNow in the printing business retailers may finally have that one spot to order small press products from.

As the development of the internet continues we are going to continue to see interesting times for our hobby.


Alex Osias said...

Excellent post, very useful!

Michael S/Chgowiz said...

I did a review of DTRPG's POD service and the biggest difference was in the weight of the interior paper - DTRPG's "feels" lighter than Lulu's standard paper. Not enough to make me not buy it, but it is a concern to me for long term use.

x said...

I believe PoD is a very important part of the hobby's future. It's good to see it coming along. I can only hope that others see the potential in this. Along with the pdf and the virtual tabletop these three items represent the bedrock to build on into the future. Even the smallest game with the smallest following can find an audience. And that's a good thing.

Sean said...

Well, it's here, and it looks very good. This seemed like a good time to get Majestic Wilderlands and so I ordered it on Dec 28th. It was printed and shipped on Dec 31st, and I got it on Jan 17th. I thought I'd give my impressions of RPGNow's Print on demand service.

Overall, I'm very happy. Shipping was inexpensive ($4.44US to British Columbia, Canada), and reasonably quick. The book arrived in a strong envelope and was protected by two layers of corrugated cardboard on all sides. For some reason, it was printed and shipped to me from England. I can't believe that this is more efficient then shipping from the States. Also, the tracking number supplied to me by RPGNow appears to be wrong, and the phone number on the package (as part of my address) is not mine. So if the package had gone AWOL I might have had a hell of a time trying to track it down.

The book itself looks very nice. It's soft cover, Perfect Bound (the kind of binding used for almost all gaming supplements that are soft cover and more then 40 or so pages), with a nice, heavy, laminated full-colour cover. It should hold up well to heavy reading and maybe the occasional spilled beverage. It won't lie open on a table, though. The pages are good – clearly printed black and white, with no text properly centred on every page. The paper seemed as sturdy as in any other game book I have. I was surprised to see that the book was only digest sized - half the size of most RPG products. However this format makes sense as Majestic Wilderlands is marketed as a supplement to Swords and Wizardry, which I believe also comes in Digest format. I would prefer larger maps, but otherwise the size is not a problem. The 'Bat in the Attic' Logo is a tiny bit off the spine and onto the back cover, but this book looks as good as any thing I've seen mass-printed in a game store and much better then some.

So yeah, I'm really pleased. $12 for the book and PDF is a great deal, even with the extra $4.44 shipping charge. From now on, every time I see a PDF/Print package from RPGNow for something I'm interested in, I'm going to consider it. Because really, I'll flip through the book years after I've lost the PDF on some DVD somewhere.

Robert Conley said...

Appreciate the Report and hope you get good use out of the supplement.