The question is: Where do YOU buy your games, and why? I do have a bit of data on this, so I’ll start by sharing this, from a survey I ran that ended on the 1st of October. It had 509 respondents, so while I’m sure doesn’t cover everyone or everything, it’s the best we can do, as I don’t think there is any larger independent survey out there (and none of the big publishers who may have that sort of data are sharing it — incidentally I’ll be doing just that, but I need time to analyze the data properly first).
– It’s important to note that these numbers are NOT supposed to add to 100%. It’s the overall percentage of respondents who chose that.
So the question I asked was “Where do you prefer buying your books?”
69% – Friendly Local Game Store (Note: this was physical books only)
50% – DriveThruRPG (Physical and PDF)
43% – Other websites (Amazon, Abebooks, etc). – (Note: this was physical books only)
38% – Publisher’s Website (Physical and PDF)
15% – DmsGuild (Physical and PDF)
7% – OpenGamingStore (Physical and PDF)
And then there were a couple of others, but not enough to move the needle.
So, why should this matter to you?
The simple answer is: It matters because all of these pay various amounts to the people MAKING the books, meaning some of your money isn’t going to the creators. And in many cases, it’s worse than you think.
So let me break it down – I’m going to ignore the FLGS and Other Sites, because I do not have any numbers for that, but I do not expect them to be great. And because you should support your FLGS for other reasons. There is NO need to support Amazon, I think they’ve got more than enough cash at this point.
So what do the various ones take?
DMsGuild – 50% cut.
DriveThruRPG – 30-35% cut (30% if you are EXCLUSIVE to DriveThruRPG)
OpenGamingStore – 25%
Publisher’s Website – Whatever percentage their payment solution costs them.
There is one more option, but that particular option, while well-known in other circles, seems to be completely ignored in RPG circles, and that’s Itch.io – In fact, it only had a SINGLE vote in the entire survey. And that’s disappointing because unlike the other storefronts here, they let you set the charge that they take, from 0% to 100% – but their standard charge is 10%. It is a HUGE difference to the creators, and it’s one I wanted to highlight. – I am a publisher, and I’m working on setting up a website (which I’m crap at by the way, which is why it isn’t ready yet), and I will be asking people to try and use Itch.io, at least for PDFs. Chances are good that you’ve already heard from it in computer game circles, or you may even have an account there.
So why would I do it? Well, that’s the key here. I know that DMsGuild and DriveThruRPG are convenient. That’s literally what we pay for. But it is also costly compared to those books. So let’s set an example here.
I create a book, one that costs me $1,000 to make. I’ve decided that I want to sell the book for $5 a pop. So how many do I need to sell for it to at least go in the black? (Hopefully, it should go further than that, as it’ll help to make new books, but here, we’re just looking to hit 0.) – Please note that here I’m ignoring the Publisher’s own website since I don’t have those numbers.
DMsGuild – 50% cut so I’ll need to sell for $2,000 – i.e. 400 copies.
DriveThruRPG – 35% cut – non-exclusive so here we need to sell for $1,540 – i.e. 308 copies
OpenGamingStore – 25% – here we need to sell for $1,250 – i.e. 250 copies
Itch.io – 10% – Set as the standard charge, though it could be 0 – here we need to sell for $1,112 – i.e. 223 copies. (rounding up slightly)
So by shopping in the right place, we can almost halve the number of books that a creator needs to sell to make it back. And we can reward them better for their hard work, without it costing us a single cent.
I do understand though, that some of the other options might be easier and more convenient for you and you, therefore, buy a book in a certain location. But if it doesn’t matter to you, then please bear the above in mind.