Wednesday, February 07, 2007

What is a Fulfillment Service?

Heya,

I’m really heavy into the publication and sales side of game design right now, so my articles are germane to that. Today, I’m just briefly going to talk about fulfillment services. I am not currently using any of them for my own reasons, but I highly recommend them to any new author. There are several companies that can handle and have experience in handling the distribution and sale of independent RPGs.

IPR (Indie Press Revolution): IPR is run by Brennan Taylor and Simon Rogers. This company has burst on the scene and really changed things for independent RPG publishers. I have heard nothing but positive reports about them, and they even have their OWN PODCAST where they talk about their company with Paul Tevis. Personally, I believe IPR is one of the most significant developments for independent publishers to come along in a long time. They do have a certain standard RPGs have to meet in order to be carried there, but for the most part all independent RPG publishers are welcome.

Key20: Key20 has been around longer than IPR and has some long time relationships with small press publishers like Ron Edwards and Luke Crane. They usually run a booth at conventions like GenCon and have established relationships with distributors and game stores alike. They do a good job of catering to the small publisher and do a very good job of promoting the products of the companies they represent.

Lulu: Lulu is both a POD (print on demand) printer and a fulfillment service. You can take care of both needs at once through this company. They have their own storefront where both PDFs and books can be bought and sold. For a newer publisher looking to simplify things, Lulu is not a bad choice. Their printing prices are a little higher than some other POD printers, but if you go with their fulfillment service, it may be well worth it to save on the headaches.

With all three organizations, you need to really research them. Only one may be right for you, or all three may fit your needs. To my knowledge, none of them have any kind of exclusivity requirements, so you can go with as many as you like. Just carefully read over the terms of agreement and be sure you will get what you want out of it.

Peace,

-Troy

8 comments:

Clinton R. Nixon said...

Troy,

Your post has some inaccuracies.

1) Ed Cha is no longer running IPR. Simon Rogers of Pelgrane Press bought out his shares.

2) I've never had a relationship with Key20 of any sort. (Actually, can you please redact that statement from your post?)

As for Lulu, I should say upfront that I work for them. With that said - their prices aren't printing costs alone, but also providing a storefront and fulfillment. I use them for printing in bulk to send to IPR, and my prices end up about the same once I hit that bulk level.

Troy_Costisick said...

Yikes, okay Clinton. I will fix those right away!

Peace,

-Troy

Ricky Donato said...

Hi, Troy,

You ilsted several fulfillment services, and you described the good and bad points of each, but you never described what a fulfillment service actually is. I thought it was a POD service, but based on your post that's not quite correct. Could you clarify that?

Troy_Costisick said...

Heya,

Yeah sure :)

It works like this. Say I've published a game, but realized that going through the traditional distributors is a great way to lose everything I've invested. However, I'd still like my game to be available in stores and to a broad range of Internet customers. A fulfillment service can do both of those for me.

Basically, I would send a stack of my books to IPR or Key20. They'd warehouse those for me and put my game on their Internet storefront. Anyone browsing or searching their site would see my game and could purchase it. Also, these services will sell my games to stores at a discount (since stores tend to buy multiple copies). At the end of every month or every quarter, I would get a check from the fulfillment service.

This check would be for the ammount of money the sale my games has brought in minus a small stocking fee. That stocking fee is what places like Lulu, IPR, and Key20 charge me (the publisher) to have my game listed on their sites.

My only real responsiblity would be A) making a sellable product and B) keeping IPR or Key20 stocked with my product. At Lulu, they can handle the printing, so I don't even have to worry about sending them stock! Essentially, a fulfillment service handles all the shipping and handeling of your game so you don't have to.

Does that answer your question? :)

Peace,

-Troy

Ricky Donato said...

Yes, that answers everything, Troy. Thanks!

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checking said...

) Ed Cha is no longer running IPR. Simon Rogers of Pelgrane Press bought out his shares.

2) I've never had a relationship with Key20 of any sort. (Actually, can you please redact that statement from your post?)

As for Lulu, I should say upfront that I work for them. With that said - their prices aren't printing costs alone, but also providing a storefront and fulfillment. I use them for printing in bulk to send to IPR, and my prices end up about the same once I hit that bulk level.bohyme

Saturnino said...

I agree with Troy that one needs to research a company before using their services. One might want to also look for the location of the fulfillment house they’re prospecting, since you might want to find the more cost-efficient choice for deliveries. Another aspect worth looking into is the distance between your manufacturer and the fulfillment house.

Saturnino Walmsley