Monday, February 29, 2016

What Is The OSR Worth

Something I find interesting but by no means scientific.

I have seven books sitting in my cart at Lulu and I'm itching to use the LULURC code, because 25% off is great, but free shipping is amazing.  Now, I don't want to buy everything in there, because it still ends up being a chunk of change.  So, how do I decide what to buy?  As with most things involving money, I turn to math to help.

My definition of value for this purpose is simple; what's the best bang for my buck?  For a simple equation, I looked at the number of pages versus the dollar amount.  What am I paying per page?  I know there are various counter-arguments (art cost, layout/editing cost, softcover vs hardcover, size differences), but good plan violently executed right now is far better than a perfect plan executed next week.  Also, I have included 2 hardcovers into this simple sample of seven.

168 $18.00 $0.11
60 $6.66 $0.11
124 $15.00 $0.12
126 $23.54 $0.19
56 $10.95 $0.20
80 $18.55 $0.23
66 $15.99 $0.24

I sorted them by price per page, which is the price divided by number of pages.  Surprisingly, the longest book is the cheapest, with its main competition almost a third of its size.  The shortest book of 56 pages is the third most expensive per page.  The most expensive per page is the third shortest, coming in at almost a quarter per page.  A quarter per page would have made my senior thesis worth $10; not that anyone wants to read about a priori constructs of the human mind.  Okay, so you've seen some numbers; I'm going to split out the two hardcovers.

168 $18.00 $0.11 126 $23.54 $0.19
60 $6.66 $0.11 66 $15.99 $0.24
124 $15.00 $0.12
56 $10.95 $0.20
80 $18.55 $0.23
Now we can compare apples and oranges better.  In the hardcover category, the longer book wins by a nickel per page.  Does this imply a law of diminishing returns; do authors think the wordier they are, the less they are worth?  Softcover also sees a big gap, with three in what I would call the dime range and two in the two dime range.  Also, the two largest softcover books are in the dime range, while the shortest is in the two dime range.

Does this prove anything?  No; some of this stuff is chart at the table stuff, some of it is adventure stuff, some of it is self-contained game stuff.  Also, don't ask what's what and don't go trying to figure it out archaeologically; none of this is to denigrate any author or what they charge for their work.  Instead, it looks like some of the authors might want to think about charging more for some of their stuff.  I would like more people to think, hey, my creativity does have a dollar amount.  It also makes me wonder how do we price adventures, rulesets, random generators, and the like?  I don't really have an answer; in my world, adventures and random generators are worth $10 and rulesets are $20.  And even that doesn't hold true for me; I just backed an adventure Kickstarter for $20, which may be the new going rate.  I know a lot of that money goes to art, and art is nice, but I can live without a lot of art.  Maps are way more valuable to me, as is a good description that's not read aloud text.  I know other people may be the opposite.

I just wanted to highlight something that interested me and see your take.  If you do publish on Lulu, please let me know what influences your price point.  If you buy through Lulu, what influences pulling the trigger?

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