I received an interesting e-mail this morning from Tabletop Adventures:
[W]e also have other news about the Dungeon Codex: you now have an opportunity to get this great product in print! Tabletop Adventures and Philippe-Antoine Ménard, the Chatty DM, have jointly set up a project on the website KickStarter. This is a site that assists people with creative projects to raise funds to make their plans a reality. We are using KickStarter to gather support for a small print run of the Dungeon Codex.
The One-Page Dungeon Codex 2009 contains the winning entries from the One-Page Duneon Contest, including my own Halls of the Mad Mage (Best Geometry). I wasn’t getting this e-mail because of my contributions to the book, however. I was getting it because I’d downloaded a copy of the PDF.
Following the link to KickStarter, I found a pledge system: For $3 you’d get an acknowledgment in the book. For $30 you get a printed copy. For $300 you get 10 copies.
What’s a little hazy, however, is exactly where this money is going. The project promises that the PDF will “become available as a special printed product”, but what does that mean, exactly?
Are they just talking about the copies being provided to pledgers? While they’re charging about $30, a quick investigation at Lulu reveals that you could print up a color copy of the book for about half that. That’s a pretty awesome profit margin for Tabletop Adventures.
(And if they’re not using Lulu, then they’re using a service like it. The minimum pledge threshold for this KickStarter project isn’t sufficient for anything larger than that.)
Are the pledges being used to fund a larger print run? Which they will then sell? If so, that’s an awfully one-sided business model they’re pitching to you. They’re basically asking you to provide the investment capital and then they’ll pocket all the profit.
Despite what you may be thinking, this post isn’t about freelancer rage. By submitting the Halls of the Mad Mage to the contest I released it under the Creative Commons license. They’re free to do whatever they want to with the module (along with everyone else in the world) and I’m not entitled to see a single penny of they money they make along the way. (Although the fact that they’ve turned a fun little community contest into a profit-generating enterprise will certainly influence my decision on participating in future versions of this contest.)
What I’m warning you about is a company trying to rip you off as a consumer.
So if you want a printed copy of the One-Page Dungeon Codex, here’s what you want to do:
(1) Download the free PDF.
(2) Go to Lulu.
(3) Set-up the PDF as a personal print job.
(4) Buy a copy for yourself.
This, it should be noted is perfectly legal: You have a copy of the work you are legally entitled to own (the PDF). Making additional copies of that work for your own personal use (even using third-party services like Kinko’s or Lulu) is legal. What you can’t do is distribute additional copies of that work to other people. (So don’t do that.)
And you’ll pay about half the price that Tabletop Adventures is looking for. Heck, you could even print up a hardcover edition of the book and still end up paying less.