OK, Peoples of the Internet, Explain this to Me-

There is a pretty good discussion going on in one tiny corner of the webosphere (can a sphere have corners? Ponder) that I cant grok. One 3pp started a talk about a sales list, who was in the "Top 10" sales for Paizo, blah blah blah.

The discussion changed a few times, as new insight and topics were brought in. Then we hit price point talks. there was much back and forth, and +Rachel Ventura brought up an excellent point, and the phrase "race to the bottom" was thrown out in this discussion. Basically, 3pp are cutting their own throats to sell pdfs for essentially no profit.

I could not agree with her more, wondering why the rpg industry actively tries to bankrupt itself?

I understand funds are tight for a lot of people, but why should creative content, and a leisure hobby for most of us, be given away for nearly free? No other industry would even entertain this thought (certainly not the entertainment business).

I liken this to the Itunes model, follow along: If ITunes sells a song for $.99 , but you can go to Amazon or Target and pick up a physical CD with that song (and 15 others, for example), for $16, doesn't that mean the physical media has no consumer worth? And if that is the case, doesn't that mean you're paying for the creative content (known as "IP"), and not the media it's delivered on?

And if we accept that, and apply it to rpgs, no matter how you get the "IP" content, shouldn't we accept that we're paying for the content and not the media its delivered in?

If you like to page through books and have a hefty tome sitting on your table, so be it. If you prefer a pdf so you can read it on your device of choice, so be it. Yes, there are significant cost increases for printed books (as you have all seen), but that doesn't mean that digital pdf content does not have significant value. It's frequently very difficult to make a good pdf, and no matter the media, you still have to pay authors, editors, converters, artists, layout designers, sales and marketing, and hosting costs (Im sure I forgot some).

Pdfs are not free; they don't just appear out of thin air.

It's a subject I'm quite interested in. What are your thoughts?
Brendan S's profile photoJames Stanton's profile photoSkeeter Green (Frog God Games)'s profile photoGregory Geilman's profile photo
Let's not forget that there is a certain "standard" for PDFs that people find unforgivable if left out. Bookmarking a PDF comes right to mind. Once a PDF is made ready for print, there's extra work that goes into making it "web ready".

That's giving away more work time and devalues the work of the production team.
+Charles Wright +100 to that. Bookmarking is so essential to a good PDF.

I agree with the iTunes argument as well - you're paying for the content, not necessarily the medium. Now, the delivery of content might dictate a small change in price - or, if you buy multiple mediums of the same content at once, you get a discount on the total charge - but a PDF alone should be charged appropriately for the content it contains, not the digital format.
I think there are many factors that come into play. On one level, if many offerings are available for free, then that sets expectations. You can only ask for money if the thing you are publishing is significantly better than what is available for free. If it is only marginally better, then customers are only willing to pay very little. From my point of view, for example, very small dungeons, simple hex maps, old school character classes, price lists, spell lists, all have very little monetary value because so many of them are available for free, and I love it.

Another factor is that Free Software has slowly prepared us to accept that a product which can be copied effortlessly is only worth a donation. The thing that really costs money is customization. Thus, I'm prepared to pay for the act of customizing something for me, joining a Kickstarter, paying an artist to draw a character portrait, and so on. I'm less willing to pay for something that is already there and only needs to be copied. I think that's also one of the reasons why Kickstarter-as-prepayment "works" for customers. Once the thing is made, I'm more reluctant to spend my money on it.

As for iTunes, I can tell you what I'd prefer: I'd prefer to pay $5 to artists directly via a button on their web page because I don't feel like supporting the infrastructure and middle-men. The reason I'm willing to pay a few dollars on iTunes is that piracy also comes with a cost: the quality of the download, the quality of the tags, the wait, the smut. Avoiding this is worth a bit of money to me.

As for the value of physical media: Once you start ordering from Lulu you realize that the media, the shipping, the last mile of home delivery is in fact quite expensive. I'm willing to pay $10 to $40 for shipping and handling of something such as the Tome of Horrors or Slumbering Tsar because I know it would cost me a similar amount if I ordered it from Lulu using my PDF.

In this climate, a traditional business model with an intangible product is simply hard to pull off.
My 64 page NPC book is 30$ in print and 20$ in PDF.

Its good. Its worth that. So that's what I charge.

People can pay and get a supplement they will use in every campaign they will ever run, or they can not and . . . not read the book.

Let everyone race wherever they want.
OK, since the abstraction of this adds a level of difficulty, lets use an actual product as a model.

Rappan Athuk. Book price $99 plus free pdf. Pdf alone price $40. 600+ pages

Mega-dungeon, levels 1-20, arguably the only dungeon crawl you would ever need. 50+ levels, HUNDREDS of individual locations. B&W interior art.

All that for $40, if you get the pdf.

Comparable to board games, Much, much better value than a movie (you and 3 friends at a game table, or you and 3 friends at a theater?). Or am I missing a piece of the puzzle?
pdfs also don't have printing costs, shipping costs, warehousing costs, and the supply is effectively infinite once you have the initial work done. there are some hosting costs, but those should be pretty minor.

I frequently buy both. I love dead tree versions to use at the table and to read, but the PDFs are portable and I can carry them on my iPad without breaking my back.
As someone who is getting close to release their first RPG product.  I've done lots of thinking and questions about pricing.  I still haven't found a good answer.  How much did it cost to make the product?  How many do I hope sell?  Set a price and cross my fingers. 
To continue with +Skeeter Green  comparison to movie tickets, even at lower costs people are twitchy.  $2.99 for a pdf or a cup of coffee at Starbucks. 
The thing about PDF publication is that at a certain point (after cost of production/design and hosting fees are met) then every sale becomes pure profit.  The same cannot be said for physical media.  So a "race for the bottom" is not going to be that significantly detrimental, depending on the publisher's initial outlay.  That doesn't take into account advertising costs, but that's unlikely to make a huge difference for most e-format based 3rd party publishers.
+James Trimble I agree to a certain point, but sales also drop off dramatically after the initial burst. So at the point of "pure profit" you generally also reach "market saturation".

So I'm not sure the cash cow perception meets the sales reality.
it's a factor of product quality and quantity. 

for example, something short should cost little, e.g. Jason Bulmahn's Minotaur Games Monster Focus books: 5 pages of content, amateur art, priced at $1.99, $.40/page.   on the other hand is Rappan Athuk: huge tracts of content, great art and maps, for $40, a great value at under $.07/page.

people are willing to drop $.99 for a song on iTunes/Amazon, or up to, say, $4.99 on DriveThru/d20PFsrd-store, because it isn't a lot to spend, and if it turns out to not be worth it (lack of quality or quantity), not a huge loss.  a $40 outlay is a bit more significant for what may feel insubstantial (it's just files on my hard-drive), and $99 feels a bit much for a book (PF Core rules, similar size to R.A., costs $50).

R.A., and other similar products, may sell better if put into smaller bites.   How did the 3-part R.A. for d20 sell?  how does Slumbering Tsar, in its 12 (I think) parts sell?  people unfamiliar with your products may need a sample so they're more willing to make the bigger purchase (like you do now, offering the first book of Slumbering Tsar for free.)
MIchael Jacobs - It's unfair to compare the pricing of a Core Rules book to the pricing of an adventure. Core Rules are always priced at a very low margin of profit to "bait the hook".
+Michael Jacobs good comments. So, a few sample pages or partial "teaser" might help people stomach paying $40-$50 for a pdf? Im assuming this is for new customers, as our established customers know what they are getting form us, or does the teaser need still apply across the board?

I understand the need to have samples for new companies, but is it still as relevant for established 3pp? Does Paizo need to give out samples of there new pdfs? Whats the perception out there in consumer-land?
+Charles Wright  - maybe, and publishers and those close to the industry may know that, but your average joe consumer doesn't know that, and doesn't really care. 
Well, they can not care all they want, it still doesn't mean we should sell RA for 50 bucks print.
I don't think I've ever been convinced to buy something buy looking at a sample or a teaser unless the teaser was significantly useful in its own way. I started a campaign in Lenap, for example, before buying the Wilderlands of High Adventure. The thing that makes me want to buy stuff is Internet buzz. Reviews, play reports, playtesters writing a little blog post, that kind of thing.
+Skeeter Green yes, to both. 

For potential new customers, certainly, but even for those of us already sold on FGG content.  I'll be ready to pony up the big-bucks to get Slumbering Tsar and/or Cyclopean Deep once my gaming group is ready for it (or I get an itch to read some fun dungeon), thanks in part to the free S.T. module and the inexpensive first 2 C.D. modules. 

if you can have some sample content for the upcoming Lost Lands kickstarter, (whether Lost Land material, or perhaps something from Stoneheart Valley), it can help convince joe gamer-kickstarter-browser to pledge.  nothing is better than a free sample.

still relevant for established 3pp's, because you're still tiny players compared to the big guys (Paizo/WotC), so you're always looking for more customers if you want to stay in business. 

Paizo has a number of built-in advantages.  They started with already established contacts in the publishing and gaming world, they have scale to reduce costs, and they have Pathfinder Society acting as a built-in marketing department.  

I have no idea if Paizo is open to ideas like this, but perhaps your can reshape some existing content like S.T. or R.A. into an official Adventure Path, or take smaller bits and turn them into PFS modules.
I'm still interested in the concept of value (tacking hard to avoid conflict here).

Is there a perception in consumers that a low-price pdf isnt valued by the company that produces it? What I mean is; if I am willing to sell an adventure I wrote for $3, does that look like I don't think its worth much? or does it look lie I'm pricing for the market?
Value many times is in the eye of the consumer.  As said before, people who know and like the material realize it's value.  But a new customer sees a $40 PDf and they'll pass.  At least if you spend money on a hard copy you can resell it not so with a pdf.  I think smaller lower cost can bring in the new fans.  
+Chuck Thorin I wholeheartedly agree. We do have lower-priced smaller adventures.

+Skeeter Green To say this in the thread: The first thing I look at is art. Is it good/passable? Did they care enough about their product to make it look presentable? That's where I get my sense of what the company sees the book being worth.

For instance, a high-profile name with amateur art says "weekend project" to me. Fair or not, that's my perception as a consumer.
+Skeeter Green there's a perceptual threshold price between the two.  if it's too cheap, then yes, it may look like you're saying "here's just a little something I tossed together". 

There are serious studies on the psychology of prices; people perceive higher prices to mean higher quality.  People will pay more for brand name medicine vs. cheaper generic equivalents because they perceive it to be of higher quality.
Sorry, I meant to expand on what I said to +Chuck Thorin 

Do you folks think that lower-priced PDFs of other adventures would eventually lead someone to picking up a company's higher-cost products?
+Skeeter Green I don't, and have never, personally felt that color art is inherently better than black and white art.

They are different mediums. 

Gray-scale art takes just as much time and energy to produce as full-color art.
+Skeeter Green I agree with Charles Wright, color vs. BW is not relevant, but simply whether it's decent or not.  check Minotaur Game's Skeleton Monster Focus on DriveThru.  The art is awful.  it doesn't mean the content is bad, but it certainly gives a bad first impression.  however, at $1.99, it's not a big loss to pick it up to see if it's any good, and if so, pick up more of their products, despite the crappy artwork.
And there are people who won't buy a book unless it's in color. I'm not exactly sure when that became a "make or break" thing in the industry, but I'd guess it's because of 3rd Edition. Prior to that it was swank for a gaming book to be color. :D
+Skeeter Green use the 2nd statement. 

but you're the one actually selling stuff, so I defer to your more expert opinion where you stated that color art is more valuable (which I read as sells better or at a higher price) than BW art.
Skeeter and I work together, he was just making a dig at me about the color vs. black and white.
I think this Rachel chick is really on to something... Oh wait that's me. As to the conversation in the past it appears that publishers would price an RPG based on the print model (what is cost for the IP, Art, printing, shipping, storage, overhead, etc) and then create a PDF price based on that. Then pdfs started arising without the print model which allowed for publishers to cut the printing cost out but as Skeeter mentioned by the time the other costs are met at a lower pdf price the sales have run their course leaving no to little profit. This is a problem long term as those in the industry need to get paid min wage like everyone else and the vast majority are not. It isn't necessary the consumers fault but I believe 3PP need to realize true costs in a pdf and price it accordingly, same goes for print. Here the difference between itunes and a CD is a print version is much more as paper cost and bindery is expensive where as a CD is a few cents to make.
We don't have a Complete Tome of Horrors 2, so I'm not sure what your on about. And who is "our competition"? I don't understand what you're talking about.

Interesting you say you would pay more than normal. What's normal? Is there actually a page count= price curve someone has, or knows about? That would be interesting.
I want to say, I don't think cheap PDFs hurt the market.

I have a boutique priced book. It made me money I was happy with, and continues to sell. Many parts of it are on my blog for free, along with plenty of other samples of my work.

It's like a restaurant. Some people go out to feed, others go out to eat. The existence of a golden corral doesn't devalue the work of a good chef.
In fact, my price point may have even helped the value of the book.
+Brian Scott I don't think you're being a bad guy at all. I'm interested in different viewpoints.

Our products are not in game stores (we're trying VERY HARD to change that), not because we don't want them there, it's because its EXTREMELY difficult to do if your name isnt Hasbro or Paizo. Retailers stock easy to sell merch; we're not vanilla, so not everyone chooses us, and we're fine with that.

"overcharging" for pdfs is relative; we don't think we're price gouging, and we think its fair for the content. If you disagree, that's fine too, you just don't have to buy the pdf. Again, that's like +Courtney Campbell 's excellent point; There's McDonald's, and there's dining. It just depends what you want to do.

And I wouldn't say we are focused on the Pathfinder market. Swords & Wizardry is growing much faster then PF is. PF does sell well for us, but it by no means is our only market.
Yeah, genuine question here +Brian Scott, but don't you see that statement "release it cheap or for free or people will just steal it" as a symptom of entitlement?

I had people complain about my price point, not because it was too high, but because they wanted to read it without paying that much . If they didn't want it - they wouldn't complain or pay!

They can pay, or not, no one is entitled to have people sell things at the price they want.

The fact that I take extreme care to produce high quality independent work shows on my blog, in my work, and really, in the sales of my book. That's why people pay.

If its not worth it to them, they won't.

What I see is that FFG books, Plotus, and other high priced PDFs sell just fine. Otherwise they wouldn't keep releasing them at those price points. I certainly have no complaints over the (continuing) sales at my price point.

For the curious:http://www.lulu.com/shop/courtney-campbell/on-the-non-player-character/ebook/product-21094127.html

and my blog:http://hackslashmaster.blogspot.com/
Also, my local game stores are filled with people in their twenties.
+Courtney Campbell has extremely high standards, I can attest to that.

I wasn't going to bring up the entitlement feeling in rpg sales, but since Courtney did...lol j/k

its a tough line to maintain, but that's what this talk is for.
Well, consumer goods are a completely different market than gaming books, what's the relevance of wal-mart to niche creative products?

Secondly, you always assume there will be shrinkage by people engaging in illegal activities, but you don't alter your price point to prevent it. I don't see them lowering the price of cars due to car theft.

Also, I am aware of popular torrent sites. I haven't seen my work up on them. I would hope the people who read my work wish to support me, but if they don't, I don't see how catering to them improves my position at all.

I feel like I'm missing something here?
+Courtney Campbell , +Brian Scott wants us to give our stuff away. I believe that is his point, without coming out and saying it.

And that's fine. We're not going to do that. I'm trying to get some good feedback to the question I posed, and I have gotten quite a bit. And Brian does have some points, but the comparisons are shaky at best.

We're not going to give our stuff away. We care about it too much. We may adjust, but we're not selling a 600+ page pdf for $5. Not going to happen. We know the work we do has value to others, and if Brian doesn't see it, he'll have ot either steal it, buy it, or not have it. Only 3 options I see.

And pdf piracy hasn't damaged us too badly. We're still seeing sales.
Right. That's the head of the nail.

People buy FFG and Malhavoc because they are top notch.

My personal feeling is that the people complaining are free not to buy.

The key point is that I think what you lose by listening to their complaining (especially on the backs of good sale numbers) is greater than the money you gain from the additional sales.

Cold, hard, truth time- everything in the damn hobby is underpriced at the retail value it sells for compared to the man hours put in.
Perhaps mammoth books just are not the best way to sell content like Rappan Athuk digitally. All at once, the cost of entrance is too high for many people. Also, marketing buzz from release is all at once and decreases rapidly. A staggered release of $5 per level (or whatever), might work better, and maybe net more overall revenue, though you also risk people only buying the first few entries if they are not taken by the product.

Personally, I would be hesitant to buy any RPG PDF for $30 or more, but primarily because if a product is at that price point, and I am interested in it, I am likely to want the hard copy, and then the PDF generally comes free. The only expensive PDFs that I can remember buying are a few fantasy flight Warhammer core books, which have such exceptional production values that it seems worth it (I realize this is all subjectivities, but still feels relevant given the topic).
Allowing people to use PDF receipts as vouchers toward physical copies might be something to look into also. Helps avoid the choice paralysis of not knowing whether to go for the PDF or the hard copy plus PDF.
+Courtney Campbell the whole conversation started because we were discussing bringing the price of the product in line with the work required. So yes it is underpriced and we are all painfully aware of that even if customers are not. So that is why and how this whole debate started elsewhere in the corners of the other universe Skeeter was referencing at the beginning.
+Brendan Strejcek  that's not a bad point at all. A bit problematic to pull of (the logistics of layout doing 17+ pdfs for Rappan Athuk even gives ME a stomach ache), but it's certainly something to look into.

Maybe, with something like Stoneheart Valley, we could break it up into 3 possible pdfs. For future releases, its worth looking at.
I don't know what the point of that story is +Brian Scott. Take an artist like Zak smith who on the reg sells paintings for 4000-6000 dollars.

That makes his per hour cost after the sale, galley commission and taxes less than minimum wage.

An anecdote is not data. The "artist" I suppose in this case is me, or perhaps FGG. In this case it referres to people who work very hard, price their work below what the real value is, and then sell a lot of copies .

You are not really responding to questions at this point, so like its said above. Either pay, go without, or engage in criminal activity to defraud the very people who's work you want.
And breaking up Rappan Athuk into multiple parts would be very, very tricky.
Soooooo, now that BS has taken this completely off topic, lets get back to the general discussion of pdfs and pricing, before this all get locked down and/or deleted?
OK, after thinking about it, I deleted Brian Scott's last post, because of referencing pornstars and other nonsense not relevant to the discussion. If we're going ot kepe this discussion going, lets stick to pdfs and pricing info, not this off topic garbage.
+Skeeter Green generally speaking, people are more willing to make multiple smaller purchases rather than one big one, even if the end cost is greater.   splitting R.A. or your other big items could get you sales that you wouldn't otherwise get.  they might not buy all of R.A., but that's still sales you wouldn't otherwise have.
+Skeeter Green re: Swords and Wizardry.

If it's getting you sales and making money for you, great.  but don't delude yourself; it, along with all the other old-style game systems, will only get a small sliver of the market.  it will be dominated by PF and D&D, so if you're looking to make sales, focus on that, and S&W can be a nice-to-have.  

they way you've been dual-tracking your products in PF and S&W is a good strategy.  next year, when DnDNext is released, you should consider triple-tracking to get some of that market as well.
Like +Michael Jacobs smaller purchases than one big one.  IMHO, I think it worked for Paizo and the Adventurepath subscriptions.
This is all definitely something to consider. I don't know that I agree with the breaking pdfs up, but its not really up to me. I'd like to get as many people involved in this as possible, just to see a good cross section.
+Chuck Thorin
my only problem with the AP pricing model is its actually more expensive than what we're charging. For 6 APs, at $20 per, thats $120 for <600 pages of content. I guess I just don't see the draw of the small buy-in as much as Id like to.
Skeeter maybe thats the answer though to get paid for the value of work done???
There may be other game benefits from breaking PDFs up too, if care is taken to make them modular. This is actually more viable in some ways for old school gaming, where somebody might conceivably drop level 3 (or whatever) into a sandbox as a standalone location (compare this to the AP model, where nobody is likely to buy number 3 if they have not already bought 1 and 2).
For what its worth, as a consumer, I much prefer a physical copy - regardless of cost. As far as pdf's go, I think the idea of a page or two preview for new customers - or simply those curious - would be a big bonus. At rpgnow, I frequently preview before I buy.

Breaking up pdf's - like slumbering tsar or pathfinders AP's has its good and bad points. A determined group will finish part one long before part two comes out , leaving them feeling left out in the cold.
My two cp's.
I really like the idea of people who buy PDFs get some manner of discount on the deadtree version. I know that would motivate me, at least.

I completely agree that RA wouldn't take well to being broken into chunks. Apart from being a lot of work (further offsetting any gains you make through extra sales), I think that the product would look a lot less appealing in that form.

I think for a lot of smaller publishers/freelance the "price yourself into the floor and hope to break even" model has one strong advantage, and that it gets a lot of people reading your things, and if you're trying to break into the market, that's one way to do it. The point is that it can't last, and they'll eventually have to stop producing or raise their prices.

Maybe there's something to be said for "demo" version of products (whether it's TOH or RA), but from a business point of view the pattern looks simple enough.
If enough people drop their prices through the floor, they'll go out of business, as will anyone who follows suit. The only safe countermeasure is to keep making quality product while keeping prices reasonable, and wait it out.

Just my two koala koins.
I'm actually struggling with this and the ecology book. If I release each monster separately, then I have to price high enough to stay out of the ghetto. But you don't want it too expensive either.

The other thing, I think is crucial, is that if you're in this business for a profit motive, you're going to have a bad time. Not that you can't make money, but if you're trying to maximize revenue, you're better off investing, or opening a restaurant or old folks home.

What is the value of the product? Price it there and to hell with the haters.
I was involved in a very similar discussion to this one at RPGGeek earlier this week. A lot of the same arguments were raised. Here's a link for reference: http://www.rpggeek.com/thread/1041964/pdf-pricing

As a publisher, I understand the value of the content I create. It takes just as much (perhaps even slightly more) work to produce a PDF for sale and a PDF that will be turned into a book, so I feel very strongly that these two products should be priced similarly.

I only have a few products on the market so far, and only one that's POD, but I am a firm believer in charging for the content once and making it available in as many formats as is reasonable for no extra charge. I get that it's time-consuming to layout a PDF, an eBook, and a MOBI because they all have to be treated separately, but I feel that's the sort of value-add the customers should receive (and expect). The value-add shouldn't be a print book that's $30 and a PDF that's $10.

My initial pricing model is to determine the cost of the electronic file, then mark up the print copy only as much as it actually costs to print the thing. I then round up to the nearest 5 or so, just to keep the figures nice and round.

I got a lot of backlash about my approach from some of the people in the discussion, though. There was a lot of insistance that "the market sets the price," and since Paizo can afford to sell $10 PDFs of their books, all publishers should be able to. I argued that Paizo can afford to be a loss leader in that respect, especially since the core of their business is still in print products, and that $10 PDFs of core books isn't a sustainable business model for smaller publishers.

I don't think it's unreasonable to expect customers to pay a fair price for a product we create. If we compare games to other forms of entertainment, they're actually one of the best cost-per-entertainment-hour values vailable from any market. 

I do think part of the problem is that the market is so saturated with content that there aren't enough gaming hours played to justify the number of products available. That means gamers are spending money on games they'll never play, which diminishes their actual value for that customer. 

With all of that being said, it isn't unreasonable to consider splitting up a big book like RA into multiple manageable chunks. For those who do play and enjoy the whole series, you'll earn more money overall. For thsoe who don't buy into the whole series, you'll at least be selling an initial product. Will it even out in the end? Well, that's what remains to be seen, I guess.
Several people have voiced their support for breaking up larger releases into multiple chunks. For me, that's not how it works. As I said above, if something is very close to something that I can get for free—one page dungeons, five room dungeons, small adventures—then I'm less inclined to pay for it. Also, I'm trying to conserve attention and tracking 12 PDF releases over the course of one or two years is a royal pain. I'd be far more likely to wait until it's all done and buy them all at once. At which point I'd prefer an all-in-one edition.

Megadungeons like Rapan Athuk, campaigns like Larin Karr or Razor Coast, settings like the Wilderlands of High Adventure or Ancient Mesopotamia, these I bought because there was nothing as BIG and as integrated available for free. Smaller and more modular products are more useful to me, but these products compete with free products.
It's true that after RA has been designed and laid out, it would be a hassle to reformat. However, if the approach was embraced from the conception stage, I don't think it would be any more difficult. In a thing with lots of interrelations, you might have to finish all the parts first and then release them gradually, but that just requires some planning and discipline.
+Alex Schroeder it seems wise to also release a hard copy compilation after the smaller parts have been released, both for people like you that are not interested in smaller modules, and for collectors or just people that like impressive books. The RA book is one of the more attractive in my collection, and I will note that I bought the Pathfinder Rise of the Runelords compiled hardcover but none of the AP releases.

I think there's probably a way to tap into all of these various demands.
We aren't talking about putting out RA as in 5 page increments (which would be equal to free product), we're talking about the first part being Zelkor's, the wilderness area, Temple of the Frog God, and all of the known entrances to the dungeon.

That would be close to 100 pages and a far cry from being comparable to free product.
I find a lot of people shy away from a portion of a product. By that I mean, its hard to pick up 'part one' of something when you know there are three more parts that will eventually come out.
I remember my (probably irrational) fear that part two and three of the original publication of RA wouldn't see the light of day. Had it originally been offered as one finished book I would have waited for that. My 2cp.
+Skeeter Green or someone might know, so, I'm asking.

Don't modules (M1, M2, etc.) whatever sell, regardless if the first is purchased? I mean, don't people buy modules based on need and party level? Or do sequel modules always sell less?
+James Stanton note that they got your purchase either way. The two models are not exclusive.
+Brendan Strejcek true. Though I wonder how much fall off there is in sequels or expansions... outside of your core customers. I suppose it depends on their reaction to the first or latest installment.
+Courtney Campbell its tough. there is almost no rhyme or reason to what sells and what doesn't. For every argument about what should sell, there is an argument why it didn't. Its a bizarre thing to try and figure out (hence this thread).

Small, low-cost modules don't sell great, that's for certain. The days of the 16 page module in print are dead. It costs as much (or more) to make the things as to sell them. Its the economy of scale at play. If you cant cut your costs by producing 10k of something, its almost not worth it to go print. I'm having to be creative with a well-known authors small module because I'm in too deep with costs already.

And just so everyone is on the same page: this concept is for future products, and is in the embryonic stage. We're not going back and remodeling any of the stuff that's out there now, just looking at possibilities for future products.
RacheI, I would say most of us are not getting paid  anything near min wage. I figured up the hourly rate when I was working and it worked out at about 10 cents an hour. That didn't include my expenses either! It got real old putting in 40-60 hour weeks and getting at most $100 a month.
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