Capitalism is, generally speaking, a Bad Thing. And I do mean that with the capital letters. In general it makes the rich richer and the poor poorer, and while in theory it should promote quality over time, human nature being what it is (at least in present times) that doesn't always happen. Look at Walmart.
Capitalism has definitely made this country (my country, the U.S.A.) rich. Filthy stinking rich. But has it made the country great, as so manny commentators and pundits (especially on the Right would tell you)? Indirectly at best, from where I'm standing. There have certainly been members of the richest elite who have spent their riches to do great and altruistic things both at home and abroad...names like Rockefeller and Gates come to mind. At the same time, there have been plenty of wealthy folks who have spent their wealth on little more than their own and their family's interests...and while holding public office IS a form of public service, for many folks it is simply another method of taking and exercising power.
Plenty of non-rich folks have done things to help make this country great...and I doubt, say, Martin Luther King Jr. would claim his efforts were due in some way to capitalism.
But we DO live in a capitalist country, and it IS a great nation despite its flaws. There are so many things here that we over-look and take for granted, especially in the face of questions like "why aren't we MORE perfect? Why is our standard of living and health care and life expectancy so low compared to other first world countries?" But, man-o-man: just across the border in Mexico, there are young women in Guanajuato who are in jail due to having late-term miscarriages and being charged with abortion (still a felony in that Mexican state) and serving 12-18 years. They had no lawyers because they were too poor to afford them and their country doesn't have a guaranteed "right to attorney" as we do.
And Mexico has universal health care!
ANYway, I digress...this country IS great, mainly based on the hard work of its people (rich and poor) and it IS capitalist and if you want to live in this great nation, you have to play by the capitalist rules. My B/X Companion book is a "for profit" venture...even though I haven't cleared enough to pay a single month of my mortgage, I have made money on it...enough to cover my costs AND do a 2nd print run...or finance the print run of a new book.
And that wouldn't have been possible without selling it for the amount I'm asking. Originally, I was thinking about asking for $18 a copy and my business manager (my wife) told me if I charged that little she would smack me around. It's a niche market I'm selling to, but it's not a vanity project. Well, kind of...no! No! It is NOT a vanity project, but a working set of rules that I'm quite proud of. People ARE getting their money's worth, and I am making enough that I can finance more printing...which is what I want to do.
But I will never be able to make a living off it. Especially not when I'm charging $25 a book (plus shipping & handling) and Wizards of the Coast can put out their D&D Essentials box set for $20 a pop.
$20...holy cow! I suppose they were able to cut costs by recycling artwork? By pulling TSR's old box-printing machines out of storage?
Last night's rant was just that...a rant. And the frustration being expressed was not about WotC's ability to print and publish material...it was frustration expressed at people who buy their material and support their business even though they don't like it.
But here's my new thought on the matter...don't we want to be a bit discerning in our tastes? Or do we want to just buy the cheapest thing on the market.
This country is great, but we destroy small and local businesses every time we choose Walmart for their cheaper prices. Even I, who hates waiting for ANYthing, can delay my gratification enough not shop at frigging Walmart. I prefer to support my local businesses whenever possible, even buying coffee at every single locally owned shop in the neighborhood (despite the fact that their drip coffee is almost universally terrible...at least they all have free wi-fi). And I skip the big chains when possible, as well.
But whatever...I'm digressing again. With regard to BUYING RPGs, I totally salute those folks that have a limited budget to spend on such luxuries...I know my wife would prefer me to not drop as much coin as I do, AND I try to buy "used" and "cheap" whenever possible. But buying is a part of the hobby...new material for ideas, new material for inspiration, new material for nights when you don't want to come up with your own adventure, and new games when you're ready to change up the existing program at your gaming table.
We COULD all just sit in our rec-rooms pencilling up our own RPGs, but as a hobby community...and a social one...we tend to want to share what we've wrought with others, and see what ideas others have penned also. And that means being part of the marketplace and buying, buying, buying.
BUT...we CAN be discerning in our tastes. The great promise of capitalism is "two stores sell a similar product, and the one that makes a better product lasts and the other one goes out of business." This tends not to happen, at least in the USA...the company with the cheaper products stay in business and the one with higher quality, higher price stuff, goes under.
[except in the case of VERY high end products that are always sold to a niche market anyway...say, Tesla electric sports cars]
Despite all the love and effort and imagination and creativity and artwork that goes into RPGs, it's hard to see anyone ever valuing them for much more than the worth of the paper on which they're printed. Which is sad and all, but it's a fact of life. But WE, the niche buyers of this niche market, can choose to purchase quality, despite cost, when we see it. And for RPGs quality means (to me) quality of play...because isn't that why we buy RPGs in the 1st place? Not as expensive, elaborate coffee table books (or door stops), but because they help our game?
It's the reason I choose to buy them anyway. And it's the standard I plan on holding to every game product out there that I choose to buy (with the exception of the old ones I'm just buying to deconstruct and tinker with...as I've said before, RPGs are my "beater car" hobby). I hope others can get on board with my plan, rather than just buying the newest, shiniest thing on the shelf. It's the only way I can see to really challenge the competition.
By the way: IF we choose to purchase games based on actual play performance and not simply marketing, or press releases, or "name recognition," this will make Cons and Demo games vitally important for showcasing new product. As a community-based hobby, I don't see that as a bad thing at all.