The Largest RPG Download Store introduces POD

Offset printing A couple of days ago I have been invited into DriveThruRPG’s Print-On-Demand preview program. Yes, you read that correctly: In the near future you will be able to order hardcopies of the PDFs sold at the site. As beta testers we were given some store credit that we should use to pick a print product and order it to test the order process, shipping and to give feedback on the print quality. From what I’ve seen so far, the order process worked like a charm.

In my opinion that is a huge step in the right direction. While some gamers like to have PDF copies of their favorite games, others prefer a physical copy. And in some cases having both is the way to go. And undoubtedly DriveThruRPG offers the hugest collection of digital RPG products on the net. And in the future these products, some of which have never been available in print, will finally be available in soft- or hardcover for pretty reasonable prizes. Currently the list of books which are available in print is pretty short, but in the long run most of the books should be made available in print.

What surprised me the most is that the shipping costs within Europe are pretty low. Shipping a 1.171 lbs book to my German address set me back mere $5.15. That’s well within what I am willing to pay for shipping which takes about 5-7 days. But it remains to be seen if they really manage to ship in a mere week and if the print quality is on par with what I’ve come to expect from other POD services.

Currently I am still waiting for the book I’ve ordered to arrive. As soon as I hold it in my hands I will give you another update. So stay tuned!

25 thoughts on “The Largest RPG Download Store introduces POD”

  1. Not only were the shipping costs reasonable, but I thought the *printing* costs were as well…to the point that I think it could turn into a "Lulu Killer" (especially with, as you noted, such reasonable international shipping).

    1. I am not sure if I would call it a "Lulu Killer" already, but it probably doesn't hurt if RPG publishers have a few more alternatives now when it comes to POD services.

  2. I fear for the print print quality, especially on titles not specifically designed for print. There is no way each of the many thousands of PDFs have been optimised for print. I look forward to your opinion on the final product. Because it would be cool to get some of those tasty OOP golden oldies.

  3. @Misterecho: As far as I know not all the products are automatically available in print. The publishers have to make sure they are suited for print first.

  4. Does it mean that out of print products but still available as formatted PDF can be purchased as printed books?

    I'm likewise curious as to what the quality of the prinouts is especially the illustrations.

    1. I really hope so. And from my own experiments with Lulu I know that it's not that hard to optimize a PDF for printing. So I am sure, most of the products at DTRPG should be converted quite easily.

  5. Not every PDF out there is a fully book. I'd be very much interested in seeing if there is an option to combine PDFs for book purposes. Maybe within a given creator. Or I hope to see creators start offering "All our NPCs in a Single Bundle" offers.

  6. @Jensan: If you don't mind that this copy of WR&M still has a few minor editing errors I can provide you with a link to the Lulu product page where you can buy one.

  7. Wow…this is a pretty cool development. I have a tone of RPGs in PDF form, but yeah, for my favorites, I like having them in hard copy, too, and sometimes the obscure stuff I like to have around is just tough to find in print. What I'm curious about is if this means that we'll be seeing print copies for what had been purely digital products until now, or if games that had been in both print and digital can also find their way into print by a third party.

  8. I love the idea of getting some products on print. While I find myself using PDFs more and more even at the table there are some RPGs I just have to get in print. Another way to spend money! Good news (I guess!)…

  9. For me, and for every other roleplayer who lives in Brazil, what is more important, besides quality, of course, is the cost of the shipping. We are used to buy POD books at Lulu, but after its shippment polices changes a lot of brazilians stopped buy there.

    I am very interested in this new because it can change our small market (we don't have POD here)

    1. Shingo,

      Example cost to ship Pendragon (232 page softcover 8.5×11 inch book) to Brazil is US$9.03 for shipping.
      We would love to test a shipment to Brazil. Please drop me an email stevew at onebookshelf dot com if we can ship you a test order.

      Thanks
      Steve Wieck
      DriveThruRPG/RPGNow

  10. @Shingo: I have no idea what DTRPG will charge for shipping to Brazil but the shipping cost within the US and UK are pretty reasonable.

  11. A couple notes:

    * Publishers have to upload new print-ready files for each title, so not all titles are going to activate right away, and I'm sure a good portion of them won't ever activate. It's up to the publisher which titles become POD titles and which don't. For Eclipse Phase, we're looking at doing compilations as opposed to individual titles; we think there's more value for the customer that way, and less market confusion.

    * OBS is using LSI, who has facilities in the USA and UK; that's why the Euro shipping rate is pretty decent — and turnaround times should be nice, too!

  12. A couple notes:

    * Publishers have to upload new print-ready files for each title, so not all titles are going to activate right away, and I’m sure a good portion of them won’t ever activate. It’s up to the publisher which titles become POD titles and which don’t. For Eclipse Phase, we’re looking at doing compilations as opposed to individual titles; we think there’s more value for the customer that way, and less market confusion.

    * OBS is using LSI, who has facilities in the USA and UK; that’s why the Euro shipping rate is pretty decent — and turnaround times should be nice, too!

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