Open letter to White Wolf

April 15th, 2008 — Wordman

To: White Wolf

The advantage of electronic books is that they are easier to store, searchable and, until now, cheaper.

As you know, electronic versions of your two recent releases (Yu-Shan and Scroll of Kings) are listed for $18, nearly $5 more than books with equivalent page counts released just months ago. That’s a price increase of almost 50% and marks the first time I can remember the electronic version of one of your books costs more than the print version. While retail for the print version is $25, Amazon sells it for $17. (They also continue to sell the “books with equivalent page counts” mentioned above for $17.)

As someone who has legally purchased electronic copies of nearly all of your First and Second Edition Exalted titles, I find this, of course, extremely irritating. But, more to the point, if this price change is here to stay (which I hope it doesn’t), then I will now be much more demanding of features in these electronic books that, until now, I’ve been giving you a pass on not providing. In particular, for the additional $5 for a bunch of electrons, I now expect and demand…

  • …reduced security. At the very least, I should be permitted to edit and save my own bookmarks and have the ability to add margin notes and save them. At best, eliminate it entirely. (Yes, I do know how to strip it off, but I’d prefer not to have to.)
  • …free updated versions of all affected files whenever you make corrections or errata to existing books. (Other companies, much smaller than you, do this already, by the way.)
  • …the person producing the PDF to spend time to make sure the file size is small and the page render times fast. Many of your books (particularly the White and Black Treatises) have exceedingly long draw times. (A good test here is to keep clicking on the “next page” button. If you do this quickly and the majority of the pages barely render before you click the next one, it’s to slow.)

Or, you could, you know, put your prices back down to a reasonable level.

I learned a while ago that I follow the following pattern when buying gaming books, even if I can’t explain exactly why: if the PDF costs around a third of the cost of the printed version, I buy both the printed version and the PDF. If the PDF costs around half the cost of the printed version, I buy the PDF only. If the PDF costs more than half of the printed version, I buy neither.

Update: I thought posted this a while ago, but it looks like I didn’t. In the interim, White Wolf released a new “fatsplat” book for the same price as other flatsplats when they were first offered. Older flatsplats are now $16, so it looks like White Wolf might be pricing at a premium when the book is initially released, then reducing prices later. I think this practice really, really sucks, and has made me take another big step toward abandoning Exalted entirely. In a much better move, they also, for the first time, reissued a title with corrections as a free upgrade. While I welcome this development, I must note that it is much less compelling when the bookmarks in the new version are much, much worse than those in the original. Given how easy it is to automatically generate bookmarks in programs like InDesign, this is disgusting.