The Digital Copy Retail Experiment

| Tuesday, May 24th, 2011 | No Comments »

So I was on Twitter today when Louis put out a link to a very interesting article. The gist of it was selling copies of your digital content in the form of a plastic Gift Card like you see at checkout counters and those sections at grocery stores.  I know Louis has always been trying to figure out a great way to let retail stores sell digital products but to date nothing has really caught on.

Well, that article got me thinking; why does it have to be a plastic gift card? It could be something as simple as a full color business card-sized product or even a postcard since that would give you more room for your sales pitch.  So after work I busted out Photoshop and whipped up a quick template for selling Campaign Overlay: Fantasy Firearms at retail.  Check it out:

I have the print MSRP listed as well as the digital price.  I included a bar code so that a retailer could add it to their retail POS system if they have one.  I was also quick to prominently display the “Digital Copy” text so there would be no confusion by the customer.  I went to VistaPrint and ordered a batch of 100 glossy front and back cards with some expedited shipping.  Once I get them I will use a peg-hook hole punch on them so that they can be easily hung on a peg. My final price for a hundred postcards with expedited shipping is about .27 cents per card.  I could get that much lower if I didn’t do color on both sides of the card, used slower shipping or ordered in larger quantities.

I used the RPGNow feature that lets me create a special discount code; which in this case is 100% off so using the card will get you a fee download.  (Since they will pay for it at the time of purchase, naturally.) I threw on the DriveThru and RPGNow logos since that is where the download will come from.  Though I could just as easily set up a download link from my own personal website.  But as this is a test-run with possible implications for other products and publishers I figured I’d use the OBS guys and push brick-and-mortar customers to their digital storefront!

Where the code is on the back I have the promo code and download URL.  I’ll be covering that up with the same stuff they use for scratch off lottery tickets.  I found a couple of good DIY articles on the web on how to do it.  Once the code is covered up and the scratch off ink is dry, I’ll post some at the local store I work at as a test.  If it works out, then I can easily see a small “Digital Download Section” sporting a bunch of cards for various downloadable products.  Heck, I could fill up a small section with just my PDF’s!

Selling a PDF for $10.99 is one thing, but could you make any money on smaller PDF’s?  That is the question!  Lets say I want to sell some of my $1.99 PDF’s at retail; would the numbers “work”?  I figure the retailer gets the card for 50% off so a $1.99 PDF Digital Copy card will sell to him for a nice round buck. ($1.00)  That leaves me with a buck to absorb my costs as well as to generate a little profit.  If I can get the cards done for a generous .30 cents that would leave me .70 cents profit; not counting some time invested in applying the scratch off ink to the cards.  My wife is really into rubber stamps and scrap booking; and I anticipate using a stamp to complete the cards so the time investment should not prove too much. (Famous last words, I know!)

What if you sold a bundle of short PDF’s to a retailer instead of just one?  I could see selling a pack of ten or twenty mixed titles as a retail bundle to get your short products on the shelves. Heck, if you sold a whole mess of cards to a retailer to display it would be easy to include a ton of Digital Copies in the Retail Bundle at an even greater discount.  Remember, there is a really “long tail” on PDF’s so if I put ones up that have already paid for them selves selling as PDF’s online, then even a smaller fraction of profits from the retail pipeline is still pure profit!

I’ll post an update in a week or so when the cards come in.


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