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Rolling for Initiative--Death from the Skies, Death at the Cash Register

Column by Scott Thorne

Published: 02/18/2013 12:34am
Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne talks about a new book available exclusively from the Games Workshop Website.
 
Well, isn't this just peachy.  From Games Workshop's website:
 
Death from the Skies brings the white-knuckle intensity of aerial combat in the 41st Millennium to your tabletop, featuring selected material from White Dwarf magazine, the Crusade of Fire supplement and exclusive new content.  Exclusively available from games-workshop.com, this 72-page, full colour softback compendium book is crammed with background information, gaming ideas and hobby inspiration to help you bring the battle for air superiority to life.
 
Not a mention of this when we put in orders last week.  According to some other retailers who I have heard from, they, being more tuned in to the Games Workshop rumor mill, had heard about it and asked their sales representatives, who either knew nothing about it or said the rulebook was just a rumor.  Going from rumor to offered item in less than a week is a pretty dang quick turnaround.
 
I assume you have noticed the really annoying bit in the second sentence of the first paragraph:  Exclusively available from games-workshop.com.  There is just no good reason for this.  I could understand a limited edition variant of the book.  Game publishers have produced those for years , even GW has done limited edition versions of the 40K Rulebook and boxed set, but coming out with a set of rules that they are not allowing their retail "partners" to sell just makes no sense.  It's not like the Star Trek Catan situation with Mayfair Games, wherein Target agreed to buy the entire print run in exchange for exclusive retailing rights for sixteen months (that's probably not the exact detail and I welcome someone from Mayfair Games contacting me with the correct specifics if they wish).  Unlike board games, books, which Death from the Skies is, have many fewer components (only one) and have significantly lower investments in terms of time of assembly.  It is comparably easy for Games Workshop to go back for a second (or more) print run of this.  Buy all you want, they can print more.
 
As far as any concern that the company might get stuck with extra copies due to lack of customer demand, it is a Games Workshop book for pity's sake.  In our industry, printing one of those, especially for Warhammer 40,000, is like printing money.  Moreso than Dungeons & Dragons, more so than Pathfinder, more so than Warmachine, Games Workshop players fit the definition of avid fans, complaining about the price of the hobby they love but plunking down their hard earned shekels edition after edition.  I thought we would see price resistance to hardback editions of the new Codexes for the Chaos Space Marines and Dark Angels armies, not to mention the $75 core rulebook itself, but nope, we still have to re-order 1-2 copies of each every week.  Given the number of flyers we have sold since Games Workshop started pushing them more heavily last year, we could easily sell a dozen or so copies over time and we don’t focus as heavily on GW as other stores do.
 
Some stores have already announced their plan to ban the use of Death from the Skies books in games at their stores, arguing that, since they can't sell it, they should not be expected to promote its use.  As I have heard additional rumors that stores may be able to get Death from the Skies and that exclusive from the website may not be as iron-clad a statement as it sounds; we will hold off on any banning of the use of the book.  I think it's a short-sighted move on GW's part and hope the publicity surrounding the announcement changes the company’s plans and we see Death from the Skies enter trade distribution.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
 
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