I hate shipping costs.
One of the (myriad of) challenges that come with being a one-man publishing mogul is that I am my own mailing department...which means that when someone orders one of my printed books (right now, that limited solely to The Complete B/X Adventurer), I'm the person that stuffs it in the envelope, walks it down to the post office, and pays the sometimes exorbitant fees that the USPS is forced to charge these days. In the past, I've given a "discount" to our Canadian neighbors by charging them U.S. prices, even though the mark-up is a bit higher than domestic (i.e. "inside the U.S.") shipping. All overseas shipping...whether it's too South America, Australia, Europe, or Asia...is at the same eye-gouging rate, and I'm forced to tack-on accordingly.
Shipping costs blow. No, not in a good way. In a day where every entertainment-marked dollar is precious to the average folk, it's a damn inconvenience to charge people an extra fifth or quarter or third the cost of their product just to get the book. Is it as much as a $9 beer at the Mariners game? No...but $9 is only a small percentage of the overall cost of "a night out with the family" when you're paying over $100 including parking, tickets, food items, and souvenirs. $5 on a $20 book (soft-cover) is just asking a lot of folks.
I don't like paying shipping costs on products I purchase; that's one of the reasons I order so few things on-line. Yes, there are ways to avoid paying them...ordering (marked-up) items from sites that offer "free shipping," or bundling several products together from a single distribution outlet (like Noble Knight), for example. But I am not a distributor and unlike my wife's company, I wasn't long ago purchased by a multi-national mega-corporation that includes corporate shipping companies (like FedEx) as one of their many subsidiaries (such relationships allow for "friend prices" between all the members of the mega-corp's "family").
*ahem* SO...shipping for 5AK is shaping up to be a bit of a headache. What I would LIKE to do is ship it in a small box...like the post office's smallest size flat-rate box. Based on the dimensions listed on the USPS web site, that should hold the entire contents just fine (three volumes, four dice) without any risk of bending/damage and the price to ship anywhere domestically is under $6. Now that's still more than what I've charged for U.S. shipping in the past, but not much more (close to $4)...and 5AK is going to ship quite a bit heavier than the previous books, so that cost might have been going up anyway.
However, while the domestic flat-rate box is under $6, rates outside the country are quite a bit higher: $20 to Canada and $24 overseas! That's charging nearly the same in shipping as I'm charging for the whole damn game...or more if I can somehow get my price point down to $19.99 (working on it).
That's not just ugly, that's outrageous. Even for (or especially for) folks in Europe who are used to paying premiums on goods. That's going to cost me sales, pure and simple, which means poor(er) distribution overseas, in markets that might actually be salivating for something different from the normal WotC fare.
But I don't really know what to do about it...I'm not about to fill a duffle bag with copies and hop a plane to the UK to set-up a local mail outlet. And my assumption is that FedEx or UPS would be more expensive for shipping overseas (though probably faster).
[hmmm...would it be worth it to cross the border to B.C. and ship inside Canada? Maybe. The border's not too far from Seattle, and if the demand was enough and the cost-cutting enough it might be worth it. Besides, the wife's in the process of getting me a "global access" pass anyway, so I could zoom through the short line at customs. I'll have to check into Canadian shipping rates]
And I suppose the only other option is to mail the game in a padded (or non-padded!) envelope and "hope for the best." But, man, that seems sketchy. I already get the occasional email about a book being wrecked/damaged by the post...and I still don't know what it's going to cost, even in an envelope.
All right, that's enough sighing and crying and boring distribution woes. I'll try to get back to "gaming posts" (though I've been busy sketching out the adventures I'm going to run for Dragonflight...I think I'm going to use these 4th Edition dungeon tiles for a B/X adventure, but it's a pain in the ass that they're not marked for easy/quick assembly. I also wish they were at least a little more...um..."grimy," but I realize that's just a preference of aesthetics). However, if anyone has any ideas on how to get better prices shipping outside the USA, I am open to suggestions.
EDIT: Just checked and found that shipping a similar sized parcel, regular delivery, from B.C. to Ontario would be $13-15, depending on actual weight. Ugh! Canada!
This Old Dragon: Issue #68
40 minutes ago