Well, it looks like Troll Lord Game has put up a new offering for Pre-Order: Jack of Lies. It's a Sandbox adventure set in a city which promises to be very detailed making this more than just an adventure but a city supplement as well. Of course, the most interesting part of this is the author -- Casey 'Bowbe' Christofferson who has done a bunch of other work for Troll Lord Games (notably the Haunted Highlands series) as well as work for Necromancer Games (he was involved with the City of Brass as well as Bard's Gate). The book promises to be a 130+ page book which, if pre-orders exceed $4000 will be automatically upgraded to a hardcover. MSRP once published will be $20 for a softcover *or* $25 for a hardcover (should the $4000 goal be met). You can check out the details HERE.
Sounds interesting enough and the best part of this is that it's ready to print so the turn around on this would be very short unlike a couple other recent pre-orders which is still having parts revised and written. In fact, the PDF could be yours within 72 hours or so within placing your order!
But there's a catch and one I really don't understand nor care for. Pre-Ordering a physical copy of the book doesn't automatically get you the PDF.
You see, I don't get that at all. The incentive to pre-order is essentially the possibility of a hardcover book instead of a softcover should enough money be raised. In other words, there is a $5 savings if enough people pre-order. But if you want a PDF as well as a physical copy, you need to add another $10 on top of the $20 for the book. I may be mistaken but I could have sworn that, in the recent past, TLG offered the PDF for free if you were pre-ordering a physical copy of the book. Even the last couple issues of Crusader magazine had a complementary issue of the PDF offered if you were a subscriber to the physical magazine.
So what gives and more importantly, what's the incentive to pre-order this book?
Aside from maybe getting the PDF which could result in being priced higher once made available on RPG Now! there isn't much of one. Someone like myself could easily get the book by buying it at their local game store. When it came to other pre-orders, I have frequently seen my local game store stock it before I even received my physical copy of the book from the Trolls. Sure, being in Canada as opposed to the States (and at the mercy of international shipping) could be part of the reason for the delay but it always left a bitter taste in my mouth. Of course, that $5 savings for me is completely undermined by the additional shipping I would pay to get the book to me in the first place.
Of course, you are offered options to spend more money and $50 gets you a hardcopy as well as a digital copy of the work plus some maps. Maps are cool and two of them are 17" x 22" maps so that's nice and there's a pack of 20 other maps for quick and easily reference (I am assuming these are 8.5" x 11"). Is this worth and extra $20? I'm not so sure about that and it seems like a couple of those maps should automatically come with the book anyway.
Personally, I may just go with the PDF since that is the trend I've been heading for when it comes to secondary gaming material -- and by this I mean something other than rulebooks or frequently used reference material. I'm not saying I won't get a physical copy myself but I certainly won't entertain paying extra and excessive** shipping fees for it.
** EDIT: Not as excessive as I thought. Other items left from a previous visit were saved in my cart which impacted the shipping total. Once those were cleared, shipping was very reasonable and enough to reconsider my stance on ordering the physical book from TLG instead of waiting for it to come here.
I originally stated a $27.95 fee but this just isn't the case. However this isn't to say that shipping through their online store isn't quirky. When I first place the item in my cart, I could have sworn it showed just the one item but when I hit checkout, 2 other items from a previously unprocessed order popped in. I had to remove them after the fact. I have been able to replicate the bug just a moment ago with other items. Besides that, I still have no idea why the casebound C&C screens cost almost $14.90 to ship when the book would cost less than $5. It ain't perfect but sometimes you have to take what you can get. ;)