4E PDFs: I'm ready to buy.

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I've got the 4E core books on order, but I'd really like to also pay a reasonable price (in the range of the once-mentioned cups-of-coffee price) for high quality DRM-free PDF versions as well.

I know this conflicts somewhat with the D&DI plan, but I'd like materials which
  • are organized just like the paper books so it translates easily to our computer-free game table
  • work when I don't have net access,
  • won't go away if my subscription ends
  • won't go away if Hasbro's plans change


I have a general dislike for mail-in rebates, but one way to do this would be to offer the PDFs for near hard-copy price (say, 80%?) but to offer a significant (80% of that) mail-in rebate with proof of purchase of the hard-copy books.
Pazio has been doing this for years without issues, yet last I heard, Wizards will not be doing this for fear of piracy.

∴ "Virtus junxit, mors non separabit." 

Pazio has been doing this for years without issues, yet last I heard, Wizards will not be doing this for fear of piracy.

Yeah, well, uh.

Yeah.

Given reality, it seems like the choices are simple: they can have some of our money for PDFs, or they can choose not to.
Assuming I am reading between the lines correctly, I can't agree more.

Pazio's PDFs are *FREE* when you subscribe to the print copies, and of less cost then the books if you buy them direct.

They are protected, and watermarked with the owners info. Granted, they can still be posted and shared, it makes it pretty easy to track them back, unless folks go through a lot of work.

I'm not a big PDF person, but I found I enjoyed using them to print maps, and sections of the print books I had. I also found on occasion, I did but just PDF copies only. I don't recall looking "elsewhere" for Pazio material. I can't say I was as faithful to Wizards.

∴ "Virtus junxit, mors non separabit." 

Wizards will not be doing this for fear of piracy.

And how has that worked for them so far?
Please don't get my thread killed. I'm serious, here. We all know that book piracy was inevitable — I'm looking for a legit alternative that provides the same extremely useful functionality those using the illegal PDFs get, and I'm willing to pay for it, and I know I'm not alone.
I agree with you. I would gladly pay a reasonable fee for PDF copies of WotC material, but it appears that WotC is unclear on what reasonable is. They do sell some of their books as PDFs on DrivethruRPG.com, but they cost the full print version amount, which is crazy. I'm not going to pay full price for something that I would have to pay to have printed and bound if I so choose. I have purchased many, many PDFs and all of them were priced below half the cost of the print version (if one was available), which I think is reasonable.
It's hard to exactly determine what reasonable might be. The actual paper, printing, and binding cost is probably quite small compared to the design and development costs — not to mention support. But yeah, it's probably something somewhat less than full price.

And it does seem like paying double for both physical and electronic versions is a bit much. (Hence the rebate suggestion.)
Yeah, I'd like to see them made available as Watermarked PDF's for a moderate price. As in, $11.

Now, when I say Watermarked PDF, what I mean is like the stuff you can get off DrivethruRPG, where when you buy something, it generates a PDF, and puts YOUR NAME on the bottom corner of each page. I got some cheap suppliments from them, and I will NEVER share those online, because on each page at the bottom it says "Licensed to [my real name]"

And it pulls that name from the Credit Card you use to pay for it.

So, you know, torrenting it is kind of asking to have the RIAA come arrest you.
Brew'N Games: A Homebrewing Blog, Both Games and Beer. "The Sky is Falling Like a Sock of Cocaine in the Ministry of Information..." - Man Man, Black Mission Goggles
Yeah, I'd like to see them made available as Watermarked PDF's for a moderate price. As in, $11.

That's a little more than I'd generally like to pay for books where I also have the physical version, but sure, at this point I'd do it just to help prove the point.

And it pulls that name from the Credit Card you use to pay for it.

So, you know, torrenting it is kind of asking to have the RIAA come arrest you.

I'm pretty sure the recording industry neither has powers of arrest (thank goodness) nor cares about books. But sure, watermarking is fine, and may even discourage casual sharing. But it's unlikely to make a big deal either way because no matter what's done the books will eventually be pirated. Trying to fight that with technical measures is a futile arms race. The right way to fight is by making the advantages people can get in an illegal (and not profitable!) way available better (or let's face it, "the same" would be a nice start) in a legal (and profitable!) way.
It's hard to exactly determine what reasonable might be. The actual paper, printing, and binding cost is probably quite small compared to the design and development costs — not to mention support. But yeah, it's probably something somewhat less than full price.

And it does seem like paying double for both physical and electronic versions is a bit much. (Hence the rebate suggestion.)

Actually... The design and development costs would be fairly minimal to produce .PDF versions, since all the work's done, other than any extra formatting that might need to be done. The development costs are the same, whether they do the just the print versions or the print and PDF versions. With DrivethruRPG (who I've purchased from, and been very happy with) licensed to handle the sales for them, the support costs would also be minimal... Send 'em the PDF, give 'em the price, and collect a check.

The only real question is, would selling PDF versions impact sales of the hardcovers?

My thought is that it'd impact slightly. In my experience, gamers like books. Most of us enjoy flipping through pages, and being able to stick random bookmarks in the four sections we're trying to use at once. If the content is good, then dedicated gamers will pick up the hardcovers, as well. And, if some people pick up nothing more than the PDF version of the player's handbook... at least they've gotten started, and it may generate enough interest for them to keep coming back for more.

As for the modules... The trick might well be what they did with Shadowfell. Include extra stuff. Large maps, like were in Shadowfell. Cardboard counters to use in place of minis. (Wouldn't kobold counters be handy?) Gear the modules toward having things in them that won't really download well, and the demand will be for the modules themselves, not the PDFs.
I've got the 4E core books on order, but I'd really like to also pay a reasonable price (in the range of the once-mentioned cups-of-coffee price) for high quality DRM-free PDF versions as well.

I know this conflicts somewhat with the D&DI plan, but I'd like materials which
  • are organized just like the paper books so it translates easily to our computer-free game table
  • work when I don't have net access,
  • won't go away if my subscription ends
  • won't go away if Hasbro's plans change

I would also pay for PDF because:
  • pdf is Searchable
  • pdf is Indestructible
  • Cutting out powers and monster stat blocks with OneNote to print for easy reference is too sweet
  • Printer > photocopier for home use


However most people I know would not pay for PDFs because they are:
  • Too easy to pirate for free
So, you know, torrenting it is kind of asking to have the RIAA come arrest you.

Actually, the RIAA only enforces copyright on recorded material. And no one, other than Wizards' legal department, enforces the copyright on D&D. Which means that, frankly, it would be a terrific idea for WotC to put out some sort of legal competitor to the PDFs circulating on the web right now.

Also, as the PDF that's circulating right now seems to be a printer's proof*, it would also be a great idea for Wizards' legal department to sue the living crap out of their printer right now.

-- ACS
Yeah, I'd like to see them made available as Watermarked PDF's for a moderate price. As in, $11.

That price point, I've got to say, is utterly delusional. They've got a staff of, what, maybe twenty people, working on the three books for maybe, what, two years? Assume (sorry, staff) maybe $30,000/staff member, that's $60,000 x 20, or about $1.2m in development costs. At $11/copy, they've got to sell somewhat shy of 120,000 PDFs in order to even recoup development costs. To put things in perspective, 120,000 copies of a printed work would be a moderate-to-large NYT bestseller.

Especially considering that the core three rulebooks are a flagship product -- profits are going to have to fund operations for a while -- I don't see that there's any way they could sell the PDFs for anywhere under $40. It's not like WotC is Virgin Records: they're essentially a boutique publisher printing a niche product.

-- ACS
Actually... The design and development costs would be fairly minimal to produce .PDF versions, since all the work's done, other than any extra formatting that might need to be done.

I mean design and development costs for the game itself, not for PDF versions of the book. But, yeah.


The only real question is, would selling PDF versions impact sales of the hardcovers?

I don't think too many people want just PDFs at this point, but I think the rebate (or other discount for buying both) idea covers that pretty well, doesn't it? If the PDFs alone are making enough money to support the product, it doesn't matter much.
Also, as the PDF that's circulating right now seems to be a printer's proof*, it would also be a great idea for Wizards' legal department to sue the living crap out of their printer right now.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure they're all over that.

But getting fixated on the particulars of how those PDFs got there is beside the point, because if it hadn't happened that way it would have another. That doesn't make it okay, but going after one leak with a legal team is like the proverbial thumb in the ****, and "lalalala I can't hear you I'm covering my eyes so you don't exist" won't work as a way of combating it either.

EDIT: up there where it says "****" I didn't put anything offensive at all — just the word for an earthen wall to keep out water which may develop a hole which a little dutch boy might stick his thumb into. Amusingly, the auto-censor makes it seem like I might have used some actually offensive phrase. No, not so much.

I suppose I could have said "levee".
That price point [$11], I've got to say, is utterly delusional. They've got a staff of, what, maybe twenty people, working on the three books for maybe, what, two years? Assume (sorry, staff) maybe $30,000/staff member, that's $60,000 x 20, or about $1.2m in development costs. At $11/copy, they've got to sell somewhat shy of 120,000 PDFs in order to even recoup development costs. To put things in perspective, 120,000 copies of a printed work would be a moderate-to-large NYT bestseller.

Especially considering that the core three rulebooks are a flagship product -- profits are going to have to fund operations for a while -- I don't see that there's any way they could sell the PDFs for anywhere under $40. It's not like WotC is Virgin Records: they're essentially a boutique publisher printing a niche product.

I don't get it. Why would the PDFs have to be more expensive than the printed books, which have a list price of $35? Or do you mean for the whole core set? In that case, I totally agree with you that even about $15/book seems pretty generous for PDFs alone.

However, $15/book for an electronic copy when you've already bought the paper books seems a little steep.
But getting fixated on the particulars of how those PDFs got there is beside the point, because if it hadn't happened that way it would have another.

Suing your printer means suing one entity who can actually pay your settlement. Suing your customers means suing hundreds of cranky people who would otherwise be buying more of your products. There's a significant difference, both practically and ethically.

Plus, leaks prior to the release date are incredibly damaging, both to the fortunes of local gaming stores and to companies without their own copyright-enforcing legbreakers to force the offending documents down.

That doesn't make it okay, but going after one leak with a legal team is like the proverbial thumb in the ****, and "lalalala I can't hear you I'm covering my eyes so you don't exist" won't work as a way of combating it either.

Well, no. I agree with you that Wizards should have legal competitors available for the pirated PDFs, but I'm also not pretending that it's Wizards' failure to get on the New Media(tm) train that's the problem.

-- ACS
I don't get it. Why would the PDFs have to be more expensive than the printed books, which have a list price of $35? Or do you mean for the whole core set? In that case, I totally agree with you that even about $15/book seems pretty generous for PDFs alone.

Yeah, I mean for the whole core set. I thought the OP was talking about $11 for three 300-page PDFs with production values that're just a little less than coffee-table books. Which is just not something that could be done.

As for people who already have the books -- I wouldn't mind paying a little extra for the convenience of a searchable copy, but I don't quite see how they could do that with this printing. Maybe on the next one.

-- ACS
Suing your printer means suing one entity who can actually pay your settlement. Suing your customers means suing hundreds of cranky people who would otherwise be buying more of your products. There's a significant difference, both practically and ethically.

Totally.

Well, no. I agree with you that Wizards should have legal competitors available for the pirated PDFs, but I'm also not pretending that it's Wizards' failure to get on the New Media(tm) train that's the problem.

Oh, not at all. That train was leaving no matter what. That whole direction of this thread is in response to the first reply, that WotC doesn't offer PDFs for fear of piracy. It's good to re-emphasize that what I'm asking for is independent of what IP pirates might or might not do.
As for people who already have the books -- I wouldn't mind paying a little extra for the convenience of a searchable copy, but I don't quite see how they could do that with this printing. Maybe on the next one.

It's probably a little late, yeah, but I still think it could be done — pay full price to get your downloaded PDFs + a rebate form which contains a transaction ID. Send in that form plus a receipt showing purchase of the hard-copy books, get 80% back in the mail in 4-6 weeks.
I remember, and therefore could be wrong, that there was going to be something such as this set up so that you could get a .pdf if you bought the book for about US$5. Has this changed, or are there extra "conditions" on top of owning the book in the first place?
Paying full PDF price when you have the paper copies is ludicrous. As long as WotC wants to make their PDF costs equal to the paper copies, I can live without them. I'd be safe to say that unless they were well below 50% of the print books they're not worth it.

This coming from someone who made the mistake of supporting/buying the e-tools sets for a program that is, to this day, still broken for using anything beyond the core 3 books.
I remember, and therefore could be wrong, that there was going to be something such as this set up so that you could get a .pdf if you bought the book for about US$5. Has this changed, or are there extra "conditions" on top of owning the book in the first place?

Rumor is that plan was dropped.

Further rumor is that this was due to fear of piracy.

So this is a request to restart the plan, and particularly if the second rumor is true, this is a good time to reconsider if the legit, paying customers really are the ones who should be punished.
Hello there,

There are piracy PDF files of all the 4th core books and the first scenario.
And these files come from a good source: the printer files!!! There are cuting marks as well as colours guide on all!!

It's very disgusting to see this on Internet!!!! We, real players, want to buy regular books/ebooks and that the writers be paid in return.

As a free lecturer for a french RPG mag, I'm disgusted to this "all free torrent sources" policy!!!

It's my first post and I would choose a more creative one...
I seem to recall an interview on YouTube saying that, with the purchase of a hardcover, you'd get a key to unlock an electronic version of that book. Have we heard whether that plan's been scrapped, available online only, or are we getting worked up before we know what's going to be available?
I seem to recall an interview on YouTube saying that, with the purchase of a hardcover, you'd get a key to unlock an electronic version of that book. Have we heard whether that plan's been scrapped, available online only, or are we getting worked up before we know what's going to be available?

We know that plan's been scrapped — people who got the hardcovers from sellers who broke the release date got no such code.

So this thread is about: we want to know what the alternative plan is, and also we want it to not suck.
I'm in with the crowd that thinks WotC needs to wake up & smell the torrentz, 'cause there's money to be made here & piracy isn't gonna stop anytime soon.

Making the $$-paying gamers happy & putting a dent in piracy while generating a little extra revenue for PDFs that are already created seems like a no-brainer.

Git 'er done, WotC!!
I'd buy PDF versions of my books if they were reasonably priced (& had no on-line requirement to use).

Regardless of what others do or make available online.

HR
Over on the Enworld forums, in the 4E - When PDFs for sale? thread Le Rouse had this to say.

Bel
Originally Posted by WotC_RichBaker In related news, I'm afraid I'm going to have to confiscate your 3.5 rulebooks, and force you to convert to the new edition. Where do you live?
Over on the Enworld forums, in the 4E - When PDFs for sale? thread Le Rouse had this to say.

Where "this" is the single word "Soon."

Which is heartening and all, although if as some people in that thread anticipate it's at full hard-copy list price, I'm going to have a hard time explaining the purchase to my wife.
Isn't D&D Insider supposed to be a giant rules suppository and compendium that you subscribe to?
Isn't D&D Insider supposed to be a giant rules suppository and compendium that you subscribe to?

Let me point you back to the first post in this thread.
Let me point you back to the first post in this thread.

Well they've already got a long-term plan set up which will earn them more money than selling a once-off sale of a .pdf which can be stripped of DRM and pirated to the masses.

They aren't going to throw all those plans away just because you want offline search. Wizards of the Coast is a business, not a public service.

Basically: sucks for you
Well they've already got a long-term plan set up which will earn them more money than selling a once-off sale of a .pdf which can be stripped of DRM and pirated to the masses.

If a legit PDF were sold but also "stripped of DRM and pirated to the masses", that would be different from the real world situation we've got right now in exactly one way: some number of people would actually pay for it. Sooooo, from the making money perspective you yell at me about in the next paragraph, looks like a no-brainer.

They aren't going to throw all those plans away just because you want offline search. Wizards of the Coast is a business, not a public service.

Basically: sucks for you

Or not, as the case may be. This may shock you, but some companies listen to and care what their customers think, because that is long-term good business.
Pazio has been doing this for years without issues, yet last I heard, Wizards will not be doing this for fear of piracy.

Too late. The core books are already available in .pdf and DRM free on the Internet. But having ONLY the .pdf books is a very very bad practice (unless you print them) because browsing them on the computer is A PAIN IN THE A$$ for most groups.

And there is nothing that can prevent privacy so I advice WotC to give us a free PDF version with every "real" book we buy. ^^
If a legit PDF were sold but also "stripped of DRM and pirated to the masses", that would be different from the real world situation we've got right now in exactly one way: some number of people would actually pay for it. Sooooo, from the making money perspective you yell at me about in the next paragraph, looks like a no-brainer.

I definitely agree with this. There will always be people who WILL buy the stuff and there will be always people who will STEAL it no matter what. There is nothing we can do about it.
We know that plan's been scrapped — people who got the hardcovers from sellers who broke the release date got no such code.

So this thread is about: we want to know what the alternative plan is, and also we want it to not suck.

Thanks, I missed that, don't have the time to catch every thread.
I definitely agree with this. There will always be people who WILL buy the stuff and there will be always people who will STEAL it no matter what. There is nothing we can do about it.

Well, sure there is. We can increase the attractiveness of the legitimate option. This not only is a win for paying customers, but decreases any sympathy for people who might pirate PDFs because there's no other option available.

Anyway, WotC folks over on EN World have said that they're in the final negotiations with an online vendor for selling the PDFs, and they'll let us know as soon as the deal has been inked. So all that remains at this point is hoping they've either made the base price low (kinda doubtful) or figured out some way to do the discount for those who also buy the paper books (I still have hope).
Isn't D&D Insider supposed to be a giant rules suppository and compendium that you subscribe to?

I sure hope you mean "repository."
Yeah, I mean for the whole core set. I thought the OP was talking about $11 for three 300-page PDFs with production values that're just a little less than coffee-table books. Which is just not something that could be done.

As for people who already have the books -- I wouldn't mind paying a little extra for the convenience of a searchable copy, but I don't quite see how they could do that with this printing. Maybe on the next one.

-- ACS

I meant $11 for each book. I.E., $11 for the PDF of the PHB. A price point that I based mainly off the price people are charging for current e-Book versions of games.
Brew'N Games: A Homebrewing Blog, Both Games and Beer. "The Sky is Falling Like a Sock of Cocaine in the Ministry of Information..." - Man Man, Black Mission Goggles
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