PDF, POD, or what?

When deciding to publish a roleplaying game, you need to decide on a format for your product. Should you go with a traditional physical product (be it hardcover or softcover), or should you join the 21st Century and publish your game in digital format such as a PDF?

First of all, unless you’re a big company like WotC or you recently won the lottery, you’re not going to be doing a traditional print/distribution thing. Print runs (a batch of printing, also called an impression) in traditional publishing have to be huge–in the hundreds at least or in the thousands, even tens of thousands. You won’t be able to afford the initial investment.

That leaves Print On Demand or POD. This is perfect for small or micro press companies like ours. There is little initial investment and we can print as many (or as few) copies as we’d like. Given that the market for roleplaying games is significantly smaller than trade paperbacks like Twilight (you think?), this flexibility and low cost is great.

You send a PDF of your product to a POD company like Lulu or Lightning Source. They print physical books from that PDF upon your command (and payment of the printing cost). Is it that simple? Pretty much! There may be issues with image resolution or bleeds (printing to the edge of a page), but for the most part it really is easy.

Ah, but what about the Future of Publishing(tm), aka PDFs? If you’re making a PDF for POD, why bother at all? Good question. PDFs are definitely gaining in popularity, and while a softcover book might cost $5 to produce, a PDF book costs nothing. It can also enter the marketplace faster–there’s no waiting for the printer.

In our opinion, you should do both. It’s what we’re going to do.

Some gamers love PDFs while others demand a physical product. If you’re hoping to sell as many copies of your game as possible, why not meet the needs of all of your customers? Sell PDFs and softcovers/hardcovers and you’ll reach a wider market while adapting your product to your customers’ needs.

Both the Triune Corebook Players’ Edition and the Triune Corebook Gamemasters’ Edition will be available as a PDF and as softcover. We are also investigating releasing both books as ePub documents, further increasing our potential market. The more version we make available, the higher the possibility of selling. And that’s a good thing.

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