A few years ago, Wizards of the Coast began releasing PDF editions of their classic TSR back catalog on DriveThruRPG. Not long after that, a steady stream of reprints followed. Now there is an impressive offering of inexpensive print-on-demand (POD) classic AD&D and D&D titles available.
I watched this development at the time with interest – and honestly, some apprehension – at what this would do to the collectibles market. It’s been my business and livelihood since 2002. Any collectibles niche can shrink or decline. Look what happened to stamp collecting.
Collectibles are not the only thing I sell, lest I give the wrong impression.
Far from it. (Half of our inventory is under $10.)
But the history and legacy of RPGs has captivated me for all these years. There is still so much I don’t know; countless discoveries waiting around the corner.
In the end, the reprints had little to no impact on the collectibles market. Indeed, old school D&D books and boxes have continued climbing in valuations due to the astounding success of 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons.
There is a bit of tension in the RPG community between Collectors and Players. Collectors occasionally get depicted as gentrifying the hobby without actually participating. Truly though, I encounter few people who are strictly collectors. Even those who do no gaming now played in the past, and would love to resume, if only…
The reality is, people exist on a continuum. Most gamers do both: They love playing, and they enjoy seeing their collections on the shelf. There is a magic to the tangible objects of gaming: Those beautiful books, boxes, and dice.
(RPG PDFs are a very useful tool, but nobody proudly displays their collection of e-books. Everybody has a bazillion of them on their drive, who cares.)
The availability of inexpensive reprints I think has been an unqualified boon to gaming. Collectors still have the originals to hunt down, and those who want cheap table copies have that option as well.
Burned Bush Wells (BH4)
1984 … Jeff Grubb & Allen Hammack & Brian Blume & Larry Elmore (cover) … 32 pages … TSR 7704 … ISBN 0880380446
Though (A)D&D makes up the bulk of WotC’s POD offerings, a few other TSR product lines are getting the reprints as well. Today, we look at the Boot Hill Wild West module BH4.
Opening both modules, right away I’m reminded of my preference for staplebound RPG books for table play: They lay flat. The detached cover as map/screen is a bonus.
But really, it’s not that big of a deal. You can print relevant pages from the PDF for game play as needed.
The POD version is good quality. Even the art copied well. I’d give it a 90% grade.
The PODs can’t print on the inside of the covers, so the original maps are printed on pages in the book.
See Also: Boot Hill early print box set