So I finally found a reasonably-priced copy of “Shadowrun” 2nd edition, to replace my original copy, that is effectively worn out. I have found some copies previously, but they ranged as high as $900, and that is simply unacceptable! I love SR 2nd edition, but I don’t love it that much.
Anyway, Noble Knight Games tracked me down a used copy of the game for only $50. It wasn’t the hardback copy that I wanted, but I’ll take softbound, if that’s all I can get. It also wasn’t in New condition, but after nearly 30 years, finding a new copy of “Shadowrun” 2e at a reasonable price is effectively impossible. So I will take it in ‘Very Good’ condition, considering that my original copy is about to have pages start falling out!
But none of this was really necessary.
Catalyst Game Labs has the rights to produce SR content, including previous editions like my favorite, 2nd edition. They have produced a lot of the old books in digital form for sale on services like DriveThruRPG, but from what I can tell, they do not offer Print-on-Demand editions of these books.
This is effectively leaving money on the table.
Look, I get it. PoD editions don’t bring in as much money as books you produce in-house, and digital editions are way more profitable overall. That’s fine, and I’m not against digital copies at all. Also, I understand that companies like Catalyst might believe that restricting access to older editions might lead gamers to buy the newest edition of your game. But that simply isn’t true.
Look at D&D, for example. There are many people who play the most recent edition, being 5e. But there are a whole lot of people who prefer “Old School Revival” TTRPGs, and thus want 1st or 2nd edition AD&D, let alone the “Basic/Expert” edition, or even 3rd, 3.5, or 4th edition! So what did Wizards of the Coast do? They have put many of the oldest editions up on DriveThruRPG, as both digital and print-on-demand editions (or bundles of both).
Why is that important? It allows fans of the older editions to buy brand-new copies of books that haven’t been in print for decades, while allowing WotC to monetize books they otherwise would not be able earn money off of.
You know, much like the older editions of “Shadowrun”, that Catalyst seems to hold the rights to?
Like I said, it is leaving money on the table.
I have a lot of “Shadowrun” 2nd edition books, and some for 3rd edition. I have checked out later editions, and frankly, I’m happy with 2nd edition. But my original hardback core rulebook has been literally used to death, and I have been looking for a replacement copy for a while. I was lucky enough that Noble Knight Games came through for me, but I should not have had to scrounge around for a used copy, when Print-on-Demand is a viable option!
Now I’m sure some people will say that it is possible that Catalyst doesn’t have the reference files available to create a PoD copy of SR2e. But you know what is possible to do, in that case? Scan the book, and create a new PoD (let alone a digital) edition!
Again, let’s refer back to the old editions of D&D, which WotC have available as Print-on-Demand. They are using new covers, rather than try to reproduce exactly what the old books looked like. Meanwhile, their interiors look pretty much like they did when originally released. The content is mostly the same as before, which is what we want. There is really no reason why Catalyst, let alone any game company that holds the rights to old-school TTRPGs, can’t follow WotC’s lead, and do precisely the same thing with their older games.
Here’s the thing. I won’t be buying “Shadowrun Sixth World” books. Like I said before, I’m happy with 2nd edition. But if Catalyst made PoD an option for SR2e books, especially the original core rulebook, I would absolutely be buying them! While that may not make them as much money as selling Sixth World books for Catalyst, it is money just the same, and money they are otherwise not making at all.
I spent $50 plus shipping for a used copy of SR2e. I would have preferred to throw that sort of cash at a new, PoD copy of the game from DriveThruRPG, with at least a portion of that going to the rights holder of the game. If that becomes an option in the future, I would likely still buy a PoD copy of SR2e, as well as supplements I either don’t have, or need to replace.
Seriously, Catalyst. I want to give you money, but you simply won’t work with me on this! I know you must be aware of the market there is for old TTRPGs, since you have put up the digital versions for sale. I am not the only person who prefers print over digital.
We are old.
We have difficulty reading books on computers, tablets, or phones.
We also have a lot of spending money, to replace our old TTRPG books.
You should really start putting up your old “Shadowrun” editions for sale as Print-on-Demand, as well as digital. Start with the 2nd edition of the core rulebook. Bonus points if you make hardback an option.
Update: I have received the “very good” condition copy of “Shadowrun” 2nd Edition from Noble Knight Games, and it was… well… not in “very good” condition. They packed it really well, so the damage wasn’t caused in shipping. No, this was the condition it was originally sent in… and it was bad.
- An inch-long rip of the front cover, where it meets the spine.
- Scuff marks all over the spine, as well as both covers.
- interior pages all show significant wear from heavy use.
- Pages loose, and getting ready to fall out.
I have an extensive collection of RPGs, and this is in, by far, the worst condition of the lot. It is in even worse condition than my hardback edition of SR2e, which this book was supposed to replace!
Luckily I have a co-worker who is a book binder on the side, and we are looking to do a reclamation project with this copy of SR2e. First, we will be removing the cover, as it is worn out. The right edge of the book pages will be shaved or sanded down a bit, to remove most of the dirt marks. The glue on the spinal left edge will be shaved off and cleaned up. Then the pages will be freshly glued into a new hardcover, which we’re looking to do up in black faux leather.
No, it won’t have the iconic “Shadowrun” 2e cover artwork or spine, but that’s fine. It will be my unique copy of SR2e, rising like a phoenix from the ashes of an alleged “very good” quality copy, that absolutely wasn’t.
In short, this only exemplifies why Print-on-Demand is so important for older titles such as this.