FSpaceRPG article

Status: Beta

As many of you know I experimented with digital printing methods to produce a perfect bound version of the Concise rulebook.

I am reporting today on what has happened, and why you do not see me churning these out to market at least locally now.

First run

The first print run was done by Tennant Print based on the quotation that prompted me to consider this option. The first two books looked fine, and we actually sold one of them. The other you may recall having seen for those in Wellington. However it was soon shipped to replace the other which had gone missing in the post. It took over 6 months to sort out the insurance claim, and we never recovered from that loss.

Anyway with even slight handling that second copy was beginning to mark and crease. It couldn’t really stand up to real use, and would have been a turn off to distributors and retailers considering stocking the product, even if these were labelled dummies for an offset print run. First impressions count a lot, and I didn’t want to take the risk.

Revised second run I did a second run doing the job myself at the digital print and bindery facility. I now work in. The result was okay, but due to the lack of a creasing machine the cover cracked during manufacture.

Next run laminated cover

On my next attempt

I laminated the cover, tape bond the interior pages and tried to get the cover glued to the tape binding of the interior spine. Unfortunately it did not adhere. Also the laminate tended to peal off .

Final run

During straight unlaminated printing and sent out for perfect binding to Ministry of Education. Worked the best except initial. Binding could cost a bottle of wine for every 10 sets of books to get done. Not really the most reliable way, nor cost effective.

Sealing research.

Going further I undertook some studies into how we could get the cover sealed. Lamination can be done on a single side, so a good surface remains on the interior for gluing. This hasn’t been taken further yet, and I’m skeptical it will work completely.

I have found processes that do seal digital print. One exists for Xerox based output, and unfortunately only a single machine exists in NZ, in Auckland. The freight costs involved preclude this from being viable. Where to from here?

Well things haven’t really looked good. For a sample version the cover really needs sealing. No viable solutions really exist. I have one last chance involving using an offset print aqueous coating test with some digital print samples I’ve jacked up through WCC who are also interested in the results for durability and cracking prevention on short run digital printed brochures.

However costs have yet to be explored on this, so again we do not know if it is viable.

Fundamentally the only commercially acceptable product on retail shelves is offset printed.

We’ve already proven that an online presence for an niche market game doesn’t generate sustainable levels of sales. We could grow things a little bit, but not much.

Even as others have suggested about rejigging the game to be a supplement to another product, the major factor remains, we’ve in the arse-end of the world in a small market, and digital print doesn’t cut it for export. If we were in a large local market like large cities in the State or even London we could probably do quite well with direct sales of digital print.

We did prove we could sell well at conventions if we got the mix and price right. Their are some big gaming conventions in the world, and we’d probably do well there.

Because we aren’t a bolt on to someone else, and are a fresh take on some aspects on the gaming market, it gives us differentiation in the market. Being part of the crowd would never help us.

Anyway this is really just a report on what I’ve done. As it stands wire bound books are our best choice now. Would any of you like a wirebound copy of the Concise rulebook? Cost price only.

I have a few more future options to explore, but I don’t hold out much hope.


Categories: Development

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