April 30, 2009

We Love PDFS: The Sale Results

Filed under: Business — bilbo @ 10:05 pm

So, Clash was interested in the run down on how the sale performed for us. Normally we do about 300-400 dollars a month in e-sales. This was primarily an e-sale with one print product. We saw sales of e-products totalling $944.50 this month. An additional 200 or so from Roma True20 sales but that does not count. Essentially, doubling our sales. About 10% of that comes off OBS and YGN. That is a bit lower that usual but reflects a higher emphasis on building traffic to our store as opposed to other stores. The importance lies in COGS for OBS is 35% and for YGN is 25% where our store clocks in just around 6.5% of MSRP.

The quick answer is that we doubled sales and thus paid for the promotion, got our books into the hands of many new folks, collected new addresses for newsletters and generally expanded brand.

April 26, 2009

Art of Sales

Filed under: Business — bilbo @ 9:29 am

ACD just placed their first order. Initially, it was large…too large. I knew this and immediately contacted their buyer and told them. We ended up with about 1/3 the amount that they had ordered. This could have been some big money for HinterWelt but It would have been bad for ACD. I have been told before that I am too much of a boy scout when it comes to sales. This would be an example of that. Still, I stand by my decision as ACD has taken a risk (as they would with any small publisher) in picking us up. I feel, just as I do with customers, that “selling” someone a book(s) is about right placement not just placement. This means you do not sell a person Nebuleon when they really want Roma. Likewise, with ACD (who has treated HinterWelt GREAT int he past) deserves honest advice on what sells and does not sell so they do not overstock on any one title.

In short, to me, integrity is the firmament that sales are built on.

April 23, 2009

Historic Research

Filed under: Games — bilbo @ 7:19 pm

Many of my books are alt-historic. That does nto stop me from researching them thoroughly. I am honestly interested and a little bit nervous about putting my non-credentials (none of my degrees are in history) up against the historian that seem to dominate our hobby. That said, I was doing some research earlier and came across a slew of Roma Imperious reviews. Even the ones that disliked the book had to admit that it was well researched. Andy, previously of the Indie Awards, had this to say about Roma Iridium:

Most Background Research for an RPG: Roma Imperious. Have you seen this thing? It’s huge, and it’s clear that the author did as much background research into the subject matter (historic Rome) than most people put into their daily jobs. Kudos!

Is it that uncommon to find rpg books that are well researched? I am constantly checking and rechecking for errors. One of the reasons Britannia is so behind schedule is finding reliable sources for 5-7th century England.

Well, I will take the compliments but it does make me wonder about the general state of historic books in the RPG industry.

Oldschool: Art

Filed under: General — bilbo @ 9:32 am

I have to say out the gate, art appreciation is subjective and I absolutely acknowledge that.

With that, I find Erol Otis’ art to be horrid. I would send it back to the artist if I had commissioned it and have them redo it or just drop it as unacceptable for a cover. I can understand it is nostalgic for some, heck I was there when his art first was on D&D books, and I did not like it then nor do I like it now. This said, I have a rough time grokking how people can praise it as a thing of beauty. Here is the latest example:
EO Cover

To some, that is a thing of beauty. To me, it is a big ole mess. However, that is the nature of art.

April 22, 2009

Maptools : Iridium

Filed under: Games — bilbo @ 12:20 am

It has been a while and my apologies.

I have been learning Maptools from RPTools. It is a Virtual Table Top. If you do not know what this is it is a very cool sort of tech that allows you to play via an internet connection. The program itself is just as it sounds, a virtual table top for RPGS. It allows you to load maps, characters, will automate combat and roll dice for you. It is what I believe will become a common tool, even for face to face gaming in the future. Why? Because you can automate the finicky parts. Now some will piss and moan about how they like those bits but when we are all sitting around our touch screen table with our own window open on the game world I think folks will get into the gaming even more.

Now, I had a brainstorm this evening as I was looking at alternatives to 128 bit cipher keys for foreign bank transfers (don’t ask) that is we could export XML out of the CHARGen and then into the Maptools program…well, we would have a way to store and update characters and load up the ones you want and run with it. Essentially, you would have a powerful set of tools for playing Iridium based games…rock!!!

I am such a geek.

April 10, 2009

ACD picks up HinterWelt

Filed under: Business — bilbo @ 8:54 pm

ACD, a distributor to retail stores, has decided to pick up our titles. This is a good thing as ACD is not a fulfillment house and one of the main distributors out there. We have worked well together and I have to say I am jazzed. After getting dropped from the failed Key20 we had to go back and look over if we even wanted to be in main distribution anymore. We more or less decided that if we could not get signed on to one of the main distributors it just was not worth it. We already sell to many retailers and customers directly so it was a close thing. That said, with Blackhawk out of business (they were good guys and always friendly to HinterWelt) it seemed that ACD would be the best route. Alliance is notoriously non-small press friendly and many of the other distributors left are much smaller than ACD. I am hoping that this will help retailers who want to deal with financing terms and ordering larger ranges of products with HinterWelt products. I think it should an dam happy about this news.

April 9, 2009

The Name of the Game: PDFs

Filed under: Business — bilbo @ 11:55 pm

With the recent WotC pulling their PDFs (for piracy on the surface of it) a number of brick and mortar game store owners have been, well, less than shocked. One might say they have been indignant. Marcus King, a self-professed Entertainment Store not a Game store owner, recently posted an article on IVC, outlining how he thought that publishers offering discounts on print-pdf titles should extend that to retailers on print titles. This is sort sighted to say the least. Furst, some of the most basic assumptions are questionable. The basis that most retailer who object to PDF sales is that they cut into print book sales. Companies like Baen and Harper-Collins have experiments running that are showing that PDF sales do not affect print sales, except possibly, positively. This concurs with my personal experience over the last 5 years. I have found that PDFs released ahead of print tend to aid my sales. It is important to realize that this is not a universal standard. HinterWelt is a small press company and reaching out to gamers is important. Sometimes it is good to push the boundaries and seed interest ahead of a title. For a company like Wizards, it would be better to time the release at the same release date for print and pdf. This would encourage the maximum number of print sales but also allow touching the electronic market with the same product.

Second, I believe it shows a woeful misunderstanding of the market segment by Marcus. It shows that he believe the market to be mature and merely an alternative channel. It would be a better analysis, in my opinion, to say that pdfs are a competing channel, not a complementary or supplementary one. As we progress with readers like the Kindle and E-Book, we will see this become more and more prevalent. You will always have a market for paper books but you will see people who want that ability to search books, one of the primary benefits of the PDF and having no comparable likeness in print books, leaping to the fore. These distinctions are held back as we are linked to our computers and laptops. It is really a case of what you are reading, a novel or a reference book. RPGs make better reference books in my opinion and thus lend themselves well to e-formats.

Finally, and most importantly, Marcus seems to believe that there is no way for retailers to participate in the pdf market. I can think of three off the top of my head. Guild of Blades has a retail store that prints PDFs for customers who legally obtained them. Another would be to host a small pdf store on your store site, get content specific to your store, that your customers would be interested in. Finally, a manual sale of USB drives with collections that could be customized to the store and their clientele. I imagine if I gave it some research and deeper thought I could come up with even more. The point being, retail stores could be involved today if they wanted to be. Unfortunately, and I have been on the retailer end when I owned two stores back in the 90s, you get into the mentality very easily, that the publisher does everything with a product. Your job is to sell it. These solutions would have more to do with an active role by the retailer.

In the end, I can say with confidence that the HinterWelt and our print sales have been helped a great deal due to PDFs. It has given us exposure and brought customers into stores to buy our products who would never have been there. I know many retailers who understand this. Still, I can wish it were more.

April 8, 2009

We Love PDFs Sale 50% Off!

Filed under: Press — bilbo @ 10:34 pm

HinterWelt Enterprises, to show its support for e-documents, is having a sale for the month of April. All our PDFs are 50% off at the HinterStore, Your Games Now and RPGNow. As an added bonus, get our Ennie nominated Roma Imperious True20 in print and PDF for only $19.99!

HinterWelt Enterprises is primarily a print publisher but is focused on the importance of PDFs with e=documents rendered from our print masters and fully bookmarked, indexed, searchable and hotlinked functionality. Every print copy purchased through our store includes the PDF as part of the purchase price. Our titles include Squirrel Attack! Operation: Get Mr. Jones’ Nuts, Shades of Earth a 1930s alt-history RPG, Nebuleon SFRPG science fiction setting and many more.

April 1, 2009

I hate April 1st

Filed under: General — bilbo @ 9:17 am

I cannot express my distaste of this “holiday” strongly enough. I have never liked it. Not as a child nor as an adult and have always just found it a simple excuse for cruel jokes.

That is all.

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