PDF Pricing Experiment – The Headline Numbers

Between the 2nd and the 10th of February, the Mince Pies & Murder PDF was on sale on a pay-what-you-want basis. Apart from a minimum price of £1 (due to credit card fees) buyers of the 60+ page PDF could pay whatever they felt it was worth.

Today, I present the headline numbers but these do not tell the whole story. There were two secret parts of the experiment that buyers were unaware of and put these numbers in a different light. I will be revealing those tomorrow when I delve in to prices in more detail.

Units Sold

Total Unit Sold: 11

My target for the sale was between five and ten copies as any less than that would of left the experiment with too little data. Plus, as the author of the PDF, it would of been depressing to think not even five people wanted to read it. So overall I am very happy with the number of units sold.

Comparing this to other publishers is hard but by coincidence Nevermet Press published their 2010 sale figures. Like 6d6, they are very much at the small publisher end of the market but they are further ahead than 6d6 with several products out including hard copies in retail stores. However, it is their PDF sales that are relevant.

Title Price PDF Sales
Brother Ptolemy & The Hidden Kingdom $9.95 16
Portrait of a Villain: The Desire $4.95 15
Open Game Table, Volume 1 $9.95 16
Open Game Table, Volume 2 $9.95 18

All these products have been on sale longer than Mince Pies & Murder but not all have been on sale for the entire year. But in comparison, Mince Pies & Murder did very well.

As another bench mark, Evil Hat publish their figures. They are a mid-sized publisher and are best know for their Dresden File RPG and Spirit of the Century games. I’ve chosen the figures of two titles to compare – Dresden Files RPG: Your Adventure and the much less well known Don’t Lose Your Mind. The figures are for the 4th quarter 2010 PDF sales. Neither of these product were released during this period so they represent ongoing / back-catalog sales.

Title Price PDF Sales
Dresden Files RPG: Your Story $9.95 155
Don’t Lose Your Mind $5.00 41

Obviously the far better known Evil Hat sell considerably more than small press people like 6d6 and Nevermet but they are not light-years ahead.

Price Paid

Highest Price: £9.00

Lowest Price: £2.00

Average Price: £4.46

Total Revenue: £48.03

I will be going into the price paid in a lot more detail tomorrow because these headline figures do not tell the whole story. However they are still interesting.

An average price of just shy of £5 (about $8) is about right for Mince Pies & Murder. It was a reasonable sized PDF but it the first publication from a company most people have never heard of. Much more the £5 and it would of been a serious leap in the dark for potential customers.

Does Pay-What-You-Want Pricing Work?

No.

Not as a serious business model.

It does work as a publicity stunt (though that will fade if more people do it) and it may have uses for, say, a charity fund-rasier or selling long-redudent back-catalog items. But 6d6’s next PDF will not use the Pay-What-You-Want model.

Tomorrow I will give a full breakdown of the prices paid, reveal the two secret parts of the experiment. On Thursday I will draw my conclusion about the perils of Pay-What-You-Want and ‘app-level’ pricing.

4 comments

  1. Hi!
    I find your experiment really interesting and I really want to read the full report tomorrow, hoping that you are not about to shut down everything but feed us constant backup on how things are going. This project is worth a little more time to be alive.

    Just a small consideration. I’m very interested in your project, where very interested is readable as “hogh chance customer”. What stops me from buying you product? the PDF model. I never buy anything in the PDF format because 9out of 10 times the PDF gets buried under a ton of other PDFs and never printed (and never played)

    So, here comes my point: I have no problem in investing10/20$ in a product I want to try, IF is a printed version. Obviously printed versions need time to take off. For example because if I’m interested in a print version (let’s say from lulu.com) I will be waiting to have a little more then one product in my shopping cart before finalizing the order.

    Last thing. Wait for the reviews! If you believe in what you’ve done let others do some of your marketing! 🙂
    We need more options and more time! Really!

  2. @Jonathan – My pleasure.

    @Paper&Plastic – No need to worry, nothing is shutting down. Mince Pies & Murder was deliberately designed as a very short experiment.

    Your comments about the paper versions are interesting because they go against the very idea of cheap PDFs. That if you make PDFs really cheap, people will buy too many to have time to read / print / play them. On one level, a publisher will say who cares, we made the sale but from the writer’s point of view you want your product to be read and enjoyed.

    With the 6d6 RPG, the most important thing to me is that people actually play the game because this is the only way to ensure long-term success. A product that everyone buys but no one plays will make money in the short-term but have no long-term value.

    Deliberately being expensive to ensure that those who buy your product are keen to play might be viable technique.

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