All of the books we’ve published (whether as Crucible Design or LateGaming) have been less than 100 pages. In general, this has felt big enough for the game that was being written, and every time we start out with a new game, one of the earliest questions is “how big is the book?”
With the advent of PoD and the easy acceptance of PDF-only games, this question is now preceded by “are we making an actual book?” The major downside of printing a book is of course the up-front cost of printing, although once you get beyond a certain number of copies (usually around 1000 or so, depending on your printer) it becomes a lot more cost effective than any print-on-demand service.
In general, we prefer to have printed books, and we believe that most of our target market are the same. It’s a lot easier to play a game when the rules are in a book that can be easily handed from player to player, and a lot less exclusive than having the screen of a laptop on a the gaming table. However, people have printers (and printers in work) and some folks would rather save the money or environment by buying the PDF and printing out at their leisure.
Personally, I love buying books. I love the “new book smell”, the cracking that pages make when you first turn them, and reading something paper as opposed to on my screen. While I have no qualms about buying (or selling) titles on PDF, I will always want something on paper, and in my old age I like to have things that are quality. With any book, I prefer to buy hardbacks than paperbacks, illustrated over plain, and so forth. The caveat there is what my wallet can afford.
Which segues nicely to print-on-demand. No up front costs to the publisher, and a physical product in the consumer’s hand, which seems to be a good compromise. But you can’t stack it on the shelf in a shop and even knowing that the PoD quality has made these books virtually indistinguishable from offset printed ones, there’s always that little niggle of doubt about whether it’s as good as “the real thing”.
So, what does all this mean for LateGaming? It means that as much possible (which usually means budget allowing) we will offset print a Limited Edition of every game, hard-bound if possible, along with offering the books via print-on-demand and digitally via PDF.