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Sunday, 3 June 2012

To PDF or not PDF - that is the question

I have been looking forward to the release of Augustus to Aurelian, a rule set covering the Principate Roman period or Early/Mid Imperial Rome -  when the legion ruled (sounds like a good name for a set of rules, but I digress). I like period specific ancient rules and, as I have plenty of appropriate figures wanted to give them a try out. However my heart sank when I realised that it would only be available as a PDF.

I suppose that I am old fashioned, but I so much prefer a bound book.  I have previously bought a couple of PDFs in the £5 - £6 range but the asking price for this is £12.

I would have quite happily paid £15 - £20 for a bound copy and if it had been priced at £25 -£30 would probably have bought it with a sigh.

Having posted to this effect in a couple of places most of the feedback is that £12 is not unreasonable.  When you think of all the effort that will have gone into writing, playtesting and producing these rules of course £12 is very fair.  It just that to me paying twice that amount for something I can hold in my hand as a printed version seems fairer.

I would be very interested in others comments on this topic


  1. Issue for me is printing to the same standard as a professional publication, and binding it. I believe that adds at least £5 to the cost. So, I would happily pay £18-20 for a professionally printed and bound copy

  2. You are of course completely ignoring the publishing side and the costs and gamble to the publisher. If it was as easy as just adding a fiver to the PDF RRP then everyone would do that. printing x thousand beano annual rulebooks is ridiculously expensive and a hell of a gamble regarding the potential loss of they don't sell (an with the ancients market having had three beano annuals in the last year who knows if A2A would sell?)

    Is a PDF worth £12? A moot point but rules take much more work to get to the finish point that a blister of miniatures and if you compare the cost of the rules which you get hours of enjoyment out of compared to the cost of you army even £12 is pretty fine...

  3. Yes I think people prefer printed rules and your idea about price point matches mine.

    However I sold my pdf rules at £3.50 a copy and still someone put them up on the net for free download. Go figure.

  4. I've got a set. I printed off the low graphics version, which came out nicely, so far I've only skimmed them, but they look promising, well structured and clear. Apparently the rules work very well on an iPad (not that I have one).

    I've also got Hail Caesar, which has brilliant production values but is badly written and laid out IMHO. I believe content is more important than display...

  5. The PDF has the advantage of instant gratification - purchase, download, done deal. This is especially useful when buying from overseas.

    For those rules that I really like and want to continue to use, I will take them to Officeworks (in Sydney), Kinkos (in parts of Asia) or a print shop and pay the few dollars to have them printed on quality printer and paper then bound in the shop.

    It may not be perfect binding but to be honest, spiral bound or similar works well for reducing the footprint of the rules on the wargames table.

    Thumbs up for PDF from me :-)

    Cheers, Thomo the Lost

  6. The rules I have that are pdf only don't get played nearly as much as those I own a hard copy of; I guess I don't enjoy spending more time looking at a screen than I have too.

    Some companies offer pdf or Lulu printing, which seems a nice compromise. TFL also offer discount print plus pdf purchases, which is a good idea, but that doesn't seem to be on offer here.

  7. @Steve: These days, it's possible to do print-on-demand (POD), so that copies are only printed when a copy is ordered. No need for thousands of copies to be printed in the hope of selling them all. Wargame Vault offer a POD service to publishers.

    As for price, it's a tricky subject. £12 seems a lot for a PDF, but at the end of the day, the publisher has to set the price that they think will maximise their revenue. They may even reduce the price later if they decide that the current price is too high.