As Ars Magica fans may know, a number of 5th edition titles are currently unavailable. The problem we encounter from a business standpoint is that while there is demand for these books, it can take a long time to make back the investment in a hardcover reprint of 500, 750 or 1000 copies.
One possible solution would be to use digital printing, which allows much smaller production runs, like 100 or 200 copies at a time. However, it would mean going to softcover for reprints.
So my question is, would people who are looking for currently unavailable books (such as City & Guild, HoH: Societates, or HoH: Mystery Cults) be interested in seeing them as softcover reprints? The price would be slightly lower (probably $27.95), but not a whole lot lower. (After all, the MSRP on the hardcovers hasn't gone up in years, and is overdue for an increase.)
Please make mine Hardcover. The softcover books don't handle the transportation as well as the hardcovers, and the constant opening and closing is tough on a softy as well.
(Though, I admit I already have them all, I would perhaps obtain another copy of the core...) :mrgreen:
I prefer hardcover to softcover books, especially for roleplaying. They really are superior. Then again, I already got (virtually) all of the ArM5 line, and am not planning on purchasing any dead-tree book in the near future (I've decided to switch to PDFs with future purchases).
The format is much too large to maintain condition over time in a softcover. I work as a librarian in my 'real life' and I can tell you I would never buy these books in softcover format simply because after a year on the shelf they are gonna look like battered old magazines.
Now, as an Ars fan I would buy them in softcover if that is the ONLY way they are going to be reprinted, and that is still hugely preferrable to only being available as a PDF, but I would gladly pay a little more for the hardcovers.
I prefer hardcover as well. But I prefer softcover over "nothing", if that is the alternative. I am only lacking HOH:MC at the moment and would prefer to have it in hardback, but count me in for a softcover version of that is what is available. After all the line needs to be profitable for the editors
Are you meaning these books won't ever get re-printed as hardcover? Or that it might be one per year?
I do not like softcover. But between softcover and not having an interesting book, I would take the softcover... Between softcover and waiting months for a hardcover one, I would wait.
Exceptions are adventures, like Calebais or Festival of the Damned, which I would not mind buying as a softcover. By the way it seems these ones are out of print too (and I would gladly get a softcover copy).
Assuming "AM" means "Ancient Magic," it HAS been reprinted and is currently in stock (and available now from W23: warehouse23.com/Cart.html?add=AG0284). But that's one of those problems with reprints...sometimes retailers and wholesalers never add it back to their system when it becomes available again.
ROP:Divine needs some changes. To be completely honest, we learned that portions of the 4th edition supplement, Kabbalah, which were reprinted in ROP:Divine, were plagiarized. This is why neither Kabbalah nor ROP:D is available in PDF. We won't reprint or sell it in any form until the offending section is rewritten from scratch.
We have done numerous reprints in hardcover of Ars books; I think most of them are still earning back the cost of doing the reprint. So I'm hesitant to do more of those reprints until we've recovered those investments.
In case it was at all confusing, let me be clear that our intent would still be to produce hardcover first printings of ArM5 supplements in any case.
Depending on the book and how essential it is, it might be "never." (For example, one way or another we should get the Houses of Hermes books reprinted...but something like City & Guild might remain PDF-only.)
Because it was already softcover, Calebais is one that I'm thinking about reprinting in any case. Probably not Festival, since it's pre-5th edition.
I'm cool with softcovers for reprints. I buy all the books when they come out. Knowing that hardcovers are a "limited edition" might encourage people to purchase books earlier and rewards loyal Ars Magica fans.
If the line makes more money, you can raise the authors' rates.
And i guess the initial costs are too high to print a larger batch and keep the "rest" in storage until needed?
If the softcover is a good one, YES. I have some softcover RPG books from the 80s that are still in superb condition(despite plenty used), while some other softcover books have gotten in a terrible condition after barely a year. I dont really know what makes the difference, but it sure can be a big one.
And of course, availability always beats absence. And regardless of soft or hard-cover, book always beats .pdf just as completely.
I've recently found a new gaming club in my local area. Come the new year I'll be trying to indoctrinate them into the Ars Magica. While I can run things from a couple of the core rulebooks I'm really hoping to drum up enough interest in the game that they want to go out and buy their own copies of some of the "essential" books, such as realms and houses. At this stage, I'd rather have soft-cover copies on the shelves than none at all. If hard-cover doesn't make economic sense for a reduced print run then the next best thing for me is a soft-cover range. If that also introduces a nominal price reduction so much the better for uptake beyond the current core.
I'm fortunate enough that I buy the books upon release and I'm now also looking to pick up the PDF versions of the material as they're released. But if I want to try to expand the game into a new group I'd not want to rely on trying to track down a rare hard-cover book, or force a group to print from a PDF, but to go to the store and place an order for a paper copy game book.
Ultimately it's down to John to balance the economics of it all against supporting the game line and its players; nobody wants a warehouse full of books or a gaming group that can't buy the books because they came late to the party.
I am with the bunch who prefer hardcovers, but would still buy a softcover HOH:MC if it's the only edition available (with slight disappointment).
Would also buy a Calebais if reprinted.
However, I am slightly surprised by this issue. I was under the impression that for ArM, generally, the selling of a complete first print was barely enough to pay for production cost, and then that reprints were the gravy that allowed Atlas to actually make a little profit because the fixed fees for author-illustrator-pagesetting are already taken care of, while the reprints carry the same price tag as the first print...
Was that economic model ever realistic and "times have changed", or am I completely in a Regio of my own?
I would suggest what makes the difference in their durability is that better softbacks for some RPGs have been stitched. Perfect binding is a lame concept that only really works with asmall paperback such as pop. fiction. The amount of use & re-use RPG manuals get mean this is a most unsatisfactory option in general.
So, may I urge, if you are going to release in softcover, can you make sure they are properly stitched rather than perfect bound. Even so, I would, of course prefer hardcovers, but as so many here have suggested already, if the choice is softcover or no reprint - then I suppose I would buy softcovers. What no man of sound mind would do, is buy a glued book a few hundred pages long that is a foot tall - that just aint gonna last.
The quality in soft cover binding is a bit more complex then that... Its a mix between glue adhesion to suface, proper notching of surface and type of glue.
The main probleme is that most printers these days will use the cheapest glue they can get away with... They also have a tendency to reduce the notching a bit ( it reduces the wear and tear on the equipement) .. Lastly, the paper needs to have long fibers and once again, short fibers are cheaper...
If you want to be sure, you have to DEMAND what they call "pull tests results" on at least 1% of at least 30 pounds... But since some big printers want profits, they tend to falsify the results of those tests if asked, so you almost HAVE to be present...(not namming names on purpose but i was in quality control of the unnamed printer)
Further more, a proper pull test has to be done 1 hour after the book is produced and modern binding equipement can do up to 12000 books per hour... so your little 1000 is finished WAY BEFORE you can test if they are ok... Getting a 30pound pull test on a 1k run could require up too 5k books to adjust...
And im not even going into "flex" and "submarine" test...
Stiching is simply better because the glue gets to adhere to the paper and the threading, creating a better bond, but it is still technically "perfcet binding" because it is stiched THEN binded.