Digital Copy Experiment Update

| Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 | No Comments »

OK, first of all I found some awesome stickers that already include the scratch-off coating!  I ordered 500 of them for about a nickle each.  They are sized near perfectly for the postcard I already ordered, but in the future I can easily adjust the cards to match the stickers.  Like the postcards I can save money by ordering in bulk but 500 should last me a good while.  The site I found them at sells a bunch of different styles and sizes of stickers at very reasonable prices.  I was even more shocked at how cheap the shipping was for my order!  In total I spent $24.99 (including shipping) for 500 stickers which comes out to .05 cents each.

The full color front-and-back postcards I ordered from Vistaprint cost me $26.91.  (Again, shipping included and I went with one week shipping instead of the cheaper 21 day option.) Adding these two totals together and dividing to get the cost per card makes it .32 cents per card for my out of pocket cost.  (Now I will admit here that I also invested in a one-time capital expenditure of $37.49 for a hole punch that is shaped to fit retail wall hangers.  I did not include that in my per-unit average since it is good for an unlimited number of products and the more of these I make the cost will come down over time.  But in the interest of full disclosure I figured I would share.)

If I sell the cards to retailers for $5.50, less my .32 cent cost I stand to make $5.18 per Digital Copy sold.  That means I need to sell ten total copies to recoup my investment.  (Minus the hole punch; that would take another seven copies.)

Now, what if I can reduce the cost of the postcards even more?  I did color printing on the front and back of my initial order since I knew I would need a glossy surface for the scratch off ink.  With the discovery of the stickers, that is no longer the case!  The stickers include the glossy surface with permanent adhesive so once it is stuck on the product then you can’t get it off without ruining it.  What that also means is I could just as easily stick it on a regular paper background and it will work just as well! Vistaprint sells packs of 100 postcards for “Free” where all you pay is the shipping.  I re-ran my cards from yesterday through their online ordering system to see what it would cost me with the B&W back of the cards and the slow shipping option; it came to just $6.42.  That’s about .07 cents per card. Add the .05 cents for the scratch-off sticker and your looking at about .12 cents per card!  Can you make some money selling short two or three dollar PDF’s when you cost is .12 cents?  I think so!

You can also use them as give-aways at cons or shows.  Also, I’ve seen several publishers who want to include a free copy of the PDF with the purchase of a print copy; I can see this as an easy way to do that if you have retailers give a card away when someone buys the print version.

Now the trick is to figure out how to get them widely accepted in the regular distribution channel, as well as how OBS/DriveThru/RPGNow gets paid for their services.  They way the test works now is a discount coupon code that gives the customer 100% off since they paid for the product at retail.  In the long run that isn’t going to work, but it’s fine for the test run.  As it stands now, OBS will not be getting a “cut” since the sale is for zero dollars.  No, I’m not trying to juke them out of some money; as I said I could easily set the download up from my own website but I see real value in building a single “Place” to go for digital RPG’s and OBS is that place.  So the question now becomes how would they make money under this arrangement?  I’m not sure they would deserve the full 35% cut they get from standard digital sales since I “drove” the sale through the retail market *to* the online one.  In this case they would simply be fulfilling the order; and possibly gaining a new customer that might not otherwise be on their site.  But having said that, the hosting and digital fulfillment does deserve some form of remuneration. Maybe OBS starts selling these cards into the retail distribution channel on behalf of publishers?  Maybe they “charge” my publisher account for each download by tracking the code I used on the cards? Still not sure, but we’ll figure something out!

Now I just have to wait about a week for all the parts to arrive and I’ll have the completed “Digital Copy Cards” ready for sale.

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