GameSpite Journal: The PDFening

I’ve received a fair number of requests to sell GameSpite Journal in PDF format, which is perfectly understandable because, let’s face it, those books are kind of wicked pricey. (Especially in light of Blurb’s even-rising shipping costs.) So I experimented with the possibility yesterday and… I wasn’t impressed with what I found.

For starters, I have to pay a $5 fee for each book I want to sell as a PDF so they can convert the book file into a PDF… which is stupid, since I upload books as PDFs to begin with. Worse because of Blurb’s inability to make offer multiple editions of a single book as a single product — which is why there are always three or four different versions up on the store for each GameSpite book rather than one version with options for color/BW and paper/hardcover — I’d have to pay the fee for each and every edition on the store.

OK, fine, whatever. But the real kicker is that their base price (the amount they pocket up front) for a PDF is $5 — for a product that costs them pennies to deliver. If I want to see any profit from the PDFs, I have to add a surcharge above that, which is idiotic. Five bucks seems like the extreme limit of a reasonable asking price for a digital file. I have a few PDFs on the store for $7 as a result of this experiment, and that just seems stupid.

So here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to set up my own Google Checkout or something and sell PDFs of the books myself and charge less than $5. I don’t need Blurb to overcharge you and me to sell digital versions of the books. I can sell for less than Blurb expects and profit more myself at the same time. So, those of you who were interested, please stay tuned — I’m pretty busy over the next week or two, but this should happen sooner than later. And, if all goes well, I’ll be done with The Anatomy of Zelda in a few days and ready to sell that as a physical product. I’ll look into the prospect of adding a free PDF download for at least the premium version of that.

As for the prospect of GameSpite eBooks… unfortunately, that won’t happen. These books are heavily focused around layout and design, and the eBook format is antithetical to the idea of design. I’ve tested eBooks and they are disastrous. Sorry!

And now, back to non-administrative stuff.

11 thoughts on “GameSpite Journal: The PDFening

  1. Any chance of bundling a certain number of volumes for those that are way behind and want to catch up? I couldn’t afford the actual book editions but I’d love to have the digital ones on my iPad.

  2. I am glad you are looking into this. As much as I enjoy reading your Anatomy of a Game, and would appreciate the extra content I (think) noticed into the books, I wouldn’t be able to buy a hardcopy book for the prices Blurb has and ship it to me. I worry too much about what could go wrong about that.

    One of the other Anatomy-like sites I read from had their own “Reverse Design”, as they called it, sold in .pdf format, and that worked really well, so I’m sure it’s a great idea to sell it in the .pdf format.

    As for your comment on eBooks, it really depends on what you’re getting at. “Normal” books are very much readable as eBooks, and I’m a bit of an .epub fanboy myself. In another light, these “normal” books don’t work all that well in .pdf, because it’s usually just a big ol’ ugly heap of text.
    For Anatomy of a Game, however, the best (easiest *and* fastest) decision would in my eyes be in the .pdf format, however, for there is an extensive use of pictures in your articles to clarify points. An admirable feat, and something that cements an easy choice for .pdf even more so.

    That doesn’t take away that I’ve seen a fair number of books with pictures between the text parts, and still look reasonably good. The problem, however, is reading them. The programs and eReaders, tablets, and whatnot will try to space it out accordingly, often causing ugly white fields.
    (Mostly because I am, indeed, a bit of an .epub fanboy, ) I’ve had to clean up eBooks before because of reasons that included them being annoying to read and ugly to look at. I don’t know what you used to try to get AoaG in the eBook format, but if you haven’t yet, I would recommend giving Sigil a try if you change your mind. Just a thought.

    Also, imminent squees of excitement about digital copies. Woo.

  3. Ray’s Scroll books work really well as PDFs through Mag Cloud, and he has recently set the early ones to cost $2.50. Can you use it without selling a print version of the book? How did it work when you did the 3 issues of the 1up print magazine?

    • MagCloud doesn’t work for the kind of books I create — the cost for a GameSpite book on MagCloud would probably be twice that of what they sell for on Blurb, if not more. And unfortunately it doesn’t look like you can offer a PDF-only option there. Plus, if I’m going to create a second shop front for PDFs, I’d rather have more control over it.

  4. I don’t endorse MagCloud for PDFs anyway — nice that they’re there for convenience, but it’s the same deal with Blurb, and PayPal and Google’s fees are relatively much less anyway, so I have a FetchApp account I link to for direct sales on my site.

  5. You always go above and beyond with these books Jeremy. Thanks for doing what you can to keep these affordable even when Blurb seems to be doing all it can to thwart your efforts. On that note, are there plans to continue the black and white paperback budget-version for future “Anatomy of…” books?



    Might I suggest you contact the humble bundle people. They did a ebook bundle before and they have a store widget you can use to sell your items for a set price. So I would think they would work with you on handling your game books. You would be able to collect money thru three different ways and not have to mess with providing the downloads.
    “On October 9, 2012, the Humble eBook Bundle was introduced. Six books (eight if the buyer paid more than the average) were available in PDF, MOBI, and EPUB formats, DRM-free”

    Here is what the widget looks like

  7. Woohoo, PDFs, finally my cheap ass can support Gamespite content in some way haha. I really just wanna read the remaining PSX essays that you never had the chance to post.

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