I was going to comment on Mishler's post on the Doom of RPGs once I had more time to digest it. Then I came across this posting from Labyrinth Lord publisher Dan Proctor.
He writes about what consumers are starting to expect, which are PDFs for free and impractically priced print products. Well, sure, of course. Who doesn't want cheaper products? But they don't consider what it takes to get that fine rule book or adventure out cost wise (as Mishler breaks down for us).
Dan says the reasoning behind this sense of entitlement is, "the people who price their POD books for nothing have a cost of $0 to produce the book, because they either write it themselves, had volunteer writers, did the art themselves, or had volunteer artists."
He then states, "People see these very low prices and wonder why a product of similar page count can't be so cheap, too. more than that, people are now starting to expect that the POD books be priced for nothing much like PDF books."
Knowing human nature for wanting everything to be even and "fair" (blah), I believe that Dan might be right. If that's the case, then Prime Requisite Games would be part of the problem.
I am a basement publisher doing this as a fun hobby. I do all the illustrating, layout, design, editing, writing, map-making, and even a bit of advertising all on my own. Unlike Dan, I don't have to fork over the dollars to some talented individuals to produce a decent product (side note here: I'm not saying that my products are the best, but they don't look like refrigerator drawings either! :) )
Therefore, I can sell my product at cost and it seems cheap compared to others on the market. Also, since the print products are sold at cost, the PDFs are simply given away for free. Is there a chance that making these products available as such makes people believe that it should be the norm? Do OSR consumers believe other publishers have some sort of obligation to sell their modules for $5.90 a pop? I'd like to hope that isn't so.
Why? Because Mishler's breakdown of the RPG product price doesn't affect me in the slightest (since the dollar amount for each cost is zilch) as it does for other publishers. My time is the only thing spent.
That being the case, Dan's products (as well as John's from BHP, Raggi's from LotFP, among others) are fairly priced. On the other hand, I feel my products are also priced fairly in a sense that I want to spread the word about Labyrinth Lord (my game of choice) and I'd like to get my adventures into as many hands as possible.
I love doing this as a hobby! I love the people involved and the excitement they get when playing, producing, and watching the hobby grow and grow. My time is not only spent on adventures, but also going to different forums and Q&A websites to drop a Labyrinth Lord or Swords and Wizardry link here and there. I even got a bit of light-hearted ribbing for my MySpace ads promoting PRG and Labyrinth Lord.
I wanted my products to be a way in helping the OSR grow. I remember when I started PRG, I figured the best way to spread the word is to offer cheap/free RPG materials. However, am I shooting the OSR in the pinky toe by doing just that?