I have a question for those game book publishers that obviously read my blog.
Or anybody that cares to answer.
It’s about publishing electronic books, the perils of piracy and the whole new market of e-book readers.
It basically goes:
Most game publishers have been putting out pdf’s for a few years now, and they’ve been popular enough to justify the existence of multiple e-book only gaming stores. Drive thru rpg, for example.
Obviously, as soon as you put a pdf out, it inevitably gets copied and distributed illegally. This is perceived as a problem by some, a fact of life by others.
Wizards of the Coast cited piracy as the main reason they stopped selling pdfs of their books. Instead they opted to explore other means of electronic publishing, which seems to translate into subscription only web page access.
As you may be aware, I’ve recently invested in an Android phone (which I’m actually typing this entry on, fact fans), and one of the free apps I’ve downloaded is Amazon’s Kindle app. As I understand it, I can read any Kindle book I’ve purchased on my phone, PC, tablet device or actual Kindle thingy. It’s a buy once, use multiple times on multiple platforms deal. I think this is awesome, especially in today’s market of platform tie-ins.
So, my question is: why don’t we see gaming books on the Kindle?
I can see real value to the player to be able to access their game library remotely, as well as from their PC. I’d be well up for it. The quick access to that supplement I left at home would be invaluable.
I can also see value for the publisher, who would be providing an e-book in a format that can’t (to my knowledge) be copied and shared.
Yes, there’s no colour. Yes, art and tables may be problematic, although I know the Kindle displays pencil drawings incredibly well.
So why haven’t Kindle game books emerged? Is it something to do with Amazon? Maybe It’s too hard to format a game book to Kindle? Would they not provide enough profit?

EDIT 19 March: Google Buzz has provided some good feedback, which I shall now address.
Sam H -Seems like a reasonable idea to me. There is one stumbling block, that being Apple insist on a 30% cut of any product purchased through an iPhone app, even if the app itself is free. This is enough to put off quite a lot of publishers. Colour wise, there will be plenty of colour e-ink readers by 2012. The current displays are a bit slow and clunky still.
Nook – Point taken re: Apple. I’m quite happy using Kindle on my Android phone and PC. Plus Michelle wants an actual Kindle, so that’s three devices we could use.
I’m not too bothered about colour at this stage, as most RPG books are black and white.
Alex Bennee -From my point of view DRM is evil because it gets in the way. Although the Kindle DRM is fairly generous in allowing you to view on multiple devices it’s something that can be revoked -as Amazon have done in the past. Think you own something, no you don’t, it’s there at the whims of the holder of the DRM keys. Far better to provide un-DRMed books with watermarks to discourage copying. But of course I’m a freedom loving open source beardy type so I’m probably in the minority here 😉
Nook – The sheer volume of pdfs I have on my hard drive that I’ve not paid supports the pro-DRM argument, although I should clarify that I’m trying to see it from a publishers perspective here as well as a consumers. Obviously I’d like everything to be free. I just don’t think that will happen.
Arwel Griffith -What I’d like to see is free ebooks/ pdfs with each dead tree book sold. No way I’m paying for content twice.
Nook – I think this is an idea Waterstones are presenting to their creditors as HMV try to stave off bankruptcy. I also believe some RPG publishers do this already. Pelgrane Press, who publish The Esoterrorists and Trail of Cthulhu give you a free digital copy when you buy the hard copy version from them direct.
Since my original posting, I have been thinking about Kindle vs PDF.
Kindle is good for the publisher because of the DRM, and good for the consumer because of the convenience of sharing a document across multiple devices.
It’s also bad for the publisher because they’re reliant on Amazon to distribute and maintain the document, and bad for the consumer because they can’t share the document like you can with a hard copy or a pdf.
Yesterday I bought a pdf from DriveThruRPG (yes, with money. Don’t tell the wife), and have today loaded it onto my phone. It’s a bit slow, and takes up as much memory for one book as the entire of my Kindle library, but I can share it, print it and copy sections out and paste them elsewhere.
Clearly there are pros and cons to all formats, and I guess my original question still stands… Why don’t you see gaming books on Kindle?


2 thoughts on “Awesome e-book publishing idea / Tell me why I’m wrong

  1. I did read this, Sam.
    What I got from it was that Kindle is great for self publishing (and I know somebody who uses it in addition to Print on Demand/LuLu to self publish), but if you're an existing dead tree publisher, what Kindle does is add an additional publisher (Amazon) into the formula, and water down the profits considerably.
    Additionally, book deals and publication contracts haven't caught up with e-publishing yet.

    So, I have a better understanding of the topic, which is great.
    I would also like to read my geek books on my portable device without having to wait an eternity for Adobe to process the next page of the PDF.


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