Happiness Capital

So, Evil Hat has its retailer PDF guarantee program that I’ve mentioned before (buy the book in a store, get the PDF from us, no problem): http://www.evilhat.com/home/pdf-guarantee/

From one perspective, our idea is pretty cracked. We’re creating an incentive for the customer to buy the product in a context where we tend to get the least money (direct sales put more $ into our pockets with each copy sold; retailers need their cut, on the other hand, which is entirely reasonable). And more to the point we’re giving away something we could sell, with that PDF — especially when the Print+PDF bundle is the way most of our direct sales happen for any given product.

But that perspective only makes sense if your eye is on the ball, and not on the players. But it’s the players that win this game. A retail store that stays in business and wants to order more of your products. A customer who’s jazzed they don’t have to make the increasingly tough choice between supporting their favorite local store and their favorite publisher. This is happiness capital, and happiness pays dividends over the long haul. Happiness turns into money, sure (you can’t buy happiness with money perhaps, but you sure can buy money with happiness, as a publisher — just add patience). But it also creates fans. It creates teamwork between the publisher, the store, and the customer. Everyone looks out for everyone else.

The marketplace is a competitive place. I think that’s pretty much self evident. But what I think folks forget, so easily, is that it’s also a cooperative place if you play it right. People and companies need to work *together* (as opposed to against one another) for things to run smoothly. Evil Hat’s PDF guarantee is all about making sure that retailers see that we’re keeping the gears greased.

So recently, Myriad Games in New Hampshire became aware of the Evil Hat PDF guarantee. And they’ve done something fantastic: they’ve sought out every single one of the customers they have who *already* bought an Evil Hat game, and let them know about the offer. Bit by bit over the past month they’ve been making that connection, then passing that connection on to Evil Hat so we can get the customer the PDF.

Joy is aggregated. And Myriad passes on customer reactions like this one:

I received the code for the PDF, and downloaded them. Very impressive, it was actually two PDFs; one in the traditional portrait format, as printed in the book, and one in landscape format so that it can be read easily on a screen.

Do you partner with other companies to do the same? I have been keeping an eye on the upcoming game Eclipse Phase (http://www.eclipsephase.com/), and they have mentioned the possibility of providing a PDF copy with the purchase of the main book via Drivethru RPG. The appeal of a digital copy is very strong, but I’d like to support brick-and-mortar store with my physical book purchase.

Absolutely, please do share my feedback. I know I’m not the only one in my gaming group that enjoys having the PDF version of the book to suppliment the hardcopy. I love having the paper book to flick through and read and keep on hand for reference, but the PDF makes printing character sheets/reference charts and finding obscure rules so much easier at game time. I wish more companies would provide the electronic version with the paper book (I understand that some may worry about piracy, etc, which is unfortunate).

+1 happy customer, right there. And if you read closely, you’ll see how the customer is relieved to be able to have his cake (the PDF) and eat it too (support his brick and mortar local store).

In turn, Myriad’s turning around and promoting Evil Hat’s stuff more in their store. That means they’ll be ordering more Evil Hat products too as time goes on.

That’s the long play, right there. Happiness capital. Someone spends money, and they’re a customer. Someone gets happy, and they’re a *fan*.