I realized with my follow-up post from GenCon that I still had some confusion about what Mike Mearls was saying during the D&D New Products Seminar about the availability of Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Emporium online. So, I went to The Tome Show’s recording of the seminar and decided to transcribe what Mike said during the relevant section. The section of the Tome Show recording starts at 1:29:10 and runs until 1:30:08 (just about a minute) based on my download of the episode from iTunes.
The added emphasis on the section about Amazon is mine.
Questioner: What about Mordenkainen’s….
Mike Mearls: Oh, so that’s something too where we are selling into hobby stores, but plenty of those stores, they have an online presence; there are stores that’ll have a presence in Amazon, so you will, if you shop online, still be able to get it. We want to make sure people just can’t get the book, but… and Amazon could order it. Like, they will have the ability to order from us, because we are just really changing how we’re handling the distribution of that book. So. But, it’s definitely something you can still buy online I’m sure, and there are plenty of game stores that have online presences that are discounting, or free shipping and such. So, but it’s really, it’s our, one of the things we really wanted to is really help game stores be a place where people are going to. ‘Cause that’s how we can ensure the game remains healthy. And the industry as a whole, it’s a pretty complex ecosystem. At the end of the day, we can’t just walk away from game stores. Without game stores, we just, probably can’t survive. And that’s a hard sale to make to the guy who’s like, “Well I can just take my graph paper, my pencils and my Player’s Handbook,” and never need US again, so we definitely are aware of that and try to balance that.
After re-listening to that passage and typing it up, I feel better about being confused; Mike Mearls presented it rather confusingly. I’m guessing that he’s saying they normally distribute books to Amazon through some other wholesaler, and Amazon gets fantastic pricing. For Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Emporium, however, they’re changing the way they distribute the book. It will still apparently be available for Amazon to order, but not via their normal channels – and, I think most importantly, not at their regular price.
Also, I’m assuming that Mike just misspoke when he said, “We want to make sure people just can’t get the book.” I’m sure he meant that they did NOT want a situation where people just can’t get the book if they don’t live hear a hobby store, so they want there to be some form of online distribution for those people.
I’m pretty sure the goal here is to make it hard for anyone to undercut your friendly local game store on price when it comes to MME. I don’t understand exactly how WotC will be doing that, but then I’m not a book retailer or distributor.
Post Script: By the way, my count has Mike’s answer at 229 words, spoken in approximately 56 seconds. That’s a rate of 245 words per minute. According to Wikipedia, audio books tend to be recorded at around 150-160 words per minute, which is the comfortable hearing and processing range for most people. 250 words per minute is auctioneer pace. The man can speak at a rapid clip!