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Black Library and their flaws


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Piss poor sums it up. Trying to order a standard hardback on release day and its sold out, again?

 

I see the retailer I usually order from was not even allowed to get copies either , so you know their print run was absolutely tiny yet again.

The retailer used to get 100% of regular editions, and then recently there are sometimes books they are not allowed to order from GW and when that happens you already know they made a very small print run. The Krieg book was another example.

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Good way to force people to buy ebooks, which likely have a much higher profit margin for GW. I continue to be disappointed with how GW on one hand treats BL like an extraneous bit of nothing that exists just to promote the setting and on the other hand wants to suck as much profit as possible from readers. 

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Alls I know is, after reading the extract, I am reminded of how much of a handle Chris Wraight has on the High Lords and if the upcoming animated series isn't at least paying him a consulting fee, they're handicapping themselves.

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Glad I got a copy of this but it’s pretty diabolical if a standard book is selling out like this. Vaults of Terra is a pretty big thing for BL fans, it’s a top author and a big subject. It started off with a lovely limited ed in volume one which was never followed with matching books which is massively infuriating. And now to not even be given the chance to collect a regular run is pretty pathetic. Just shows you exactly where BL fans are in the pecking order 

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Snagged a copy when pre-orders went live a few minutes before 10 my time.

Sorry to you fraters who weren't able to get a copy. I'd completely forgotten that it was going up for sale today. If you guys hadn't posted when you did, I would have missed out.

I know it's poor consolation, and this isn't intended to be gloating. Just wanted to say I really appreciate you good folks. As ever, the community here is frequently a better ambassador for BL than the company is.

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Another poor showing from BL is the once-again atrocious pacing for releases.

They're actually dumping FIVE audiobooks on us next week - two of which either should have released last month alongside their hardback & ebooks, but didn't (Horus Heresy: Lupercal's War, a rehash anthology with only a few short stories included that hadn't been recorded previously!), or years ago when they were actually relevant (Thunderstrike & Other Stories, the third of the introduction anthologies for AoS; it's been out for 2 years now I believe, and unlike its predecessors did not get an audiobook. Speaking of, aren't we due another of these anthologies for 40k, too? Been a while since Nexus).

Adding those on top of yesterday's two backlog audiobooks (Uriel Ventris: The Killing Ground & Farsight: Empire of Lies), and the double-release of Ahriman: Unchanged & Eternal on July 2nd (after Ahriman went on a nigh-eternal Hiatus, Sorcerer released in April 2021, so I'm actually surprised Unchanged didn't release after Eternal, like they did with other audios in the past...), they're literally DOUBLING July's release count next week. 10 audiobooks in a single month, after having only 4 in June (one of which was obviously pushed to next week instead, see Lupercal's War), 7 in May, 6 in April, 7 in March and so forth.

Even if we take 6-7 as the usual average the last few months, we're looking at a bunch of delayed AoS releases from the Covid Times to bump up these numbers, or the delayed Urdesh audios. A LOT of these releases are from their back catalog, and could be held off on releasing, or released a little earlier, to smooth out their release schedule by reducing downtime between actually NEW books.

Time and time again, they simply don't want to do that. GW/BL would rather dump everything on customers at once than having a somewhat reliable schedule that allows for people to actually consume their goods in a reasonable timeframe, without overwhelming them. Even if we'd make the case for avoiding to only release an AoS book without also having a 40k offering, that's not what they're doing.

And it's not just the customers who end up overwhelmed with this, but their marketing/WarCom obviously is as well. Even though they're trying nowadays to at least cover new books with some author's notes and such, their coverage is generally abyssmal, and with backlog content it becomes very apparent that their releases are fire & forget in nature. They throw these out of the door and that's it. Frankly, I can't shake off the feeling that they approach book releases in pretty much the same "seasonal release dump" way that they do new army releases or updates. Just dump all of it at the customer at once, then let the scrape up the money on short notice to not miss out on limited stuff.

Coupled with the complete disaster that every new BL release in print has been the past years, my god, I can feel the respect that GW has for me as a customer, and my time as a reader. It sucks, and actually has been turning me off from even trying to keep up whatsoever the past year. If they at least talked to their audience about their release strategy, acknowledged issues with print sales, delays or gave us a clear roadmap rather than springing everything on us at once, with very little prior notice (see: The Dark City), it wouldn't be this bad.

Instead, they constantly make me feel like I need to rush my current read(s), because oh no, in two weeks, they're dropping all these releases I might be interested in, and who knows what's coming right after, in terms of highly anticipated but rarely talked about upcoming novels? Other publishers, even tie-in ones, are much more transparent about their schedule and you can clearly pace yourself thanks to that. I can see why Games Workshop wouldn't like to be this way for miniature releases, but there's literally no excuse for BL not to - especially when it concerns back catalog re-releases, or rather, anything that isn't a direct studio tie-in or secret project.

 

And those are my feelings, and why I've taken more of a backseat on discussions lately. I just can't be bothered to try and keep up with new releases anymore.

Edited by DarkChaplain
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Yeah they are hardly pushing E-books these days either, which is sad given how forward thinking they were a few years ago :/ 

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The pacing of releases continues to confound me. At least in the dark days of direct tie-ins you could predict what would be coming up, but beyond two LEs a month (?), I’m struggling to see a pattern…
 

slightly OT, but I’m officially predicting/hoping that Rachel Harrison gets the next ‘Characters’ series book. 

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And there we go, nothing new going up for preorder next Saturday, as announced today. Merely the late limited edition re-release of The Devastation of Baal to complete the set.

They could've just simply pushed two of the five releases they put up for preorder this weekend to the next, and poof, the problem is at least diminished, if not gone. But why would they? They're GW.

Also: Inferno. They started so nicely with the quarterly release schedule, but after... 3 or 4 years, we still haven't gotten volume 7, have we? That's the format that they said would be replacing regular digital shorts, and they abandoned it.

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I think there's a wider discussion to be had regarding Black Library's sales, the size of its readership and so on. In fact, I think there's an even wider discussion to be had regarding how 'nerd' culture and how fandoms behave, because in my very honest and totally anecdotal opinion I don't see or hear about anywhere near as many people actually sitting down and engaging with a book nowadays - be it a physical copy or on a Kindle or whatever. I know places like r/40klore are booming and the primary tabletop side of things are doing well(?), but I feel like the actual core readership has dwindled over recent years. Once again, anecdotes all over the place here, but in the early-mid 2010s I remember BL pumping out huge numbers of books, not-books and reprints, and my local bookstore (which is a huge multi?national chain) had an entire drop dedicated to 'WARHAMMER.' For the past few years it's been relegated to half a shelf, with a few Dan Abnett books, and we're talking his latest releases here, not the big, thick Gaunt omnibuses of old. Like I said: anecdotes on top of anecdotes, but I feel like changes in readership and maybe even the cat being out of the bag that not a lot of BL books are actually that good, maybe combined with the canon policy that regardless of what the BLDF claim, I know a lot of people dislike because fandoms will always hunger for certainty over artistic freedom; is what is motivating decisions like tiny hardback runs in part. I think Vaults of Terra is arguably one of the best written 40k series of all time, up there with Black Legion and Fabius Bile, but how many people have actually bought a copy, read and then bought the second (and third and so on) book worldwide? A few thousand?

It's easy to shoot down my ruminations I admit. ''B&C is just a tiny fraction of the BL readership!'' ''limited hardback runs are due to post-covid manufacturing/shipping issues!'' Yeah, cool, I get that, and I can't argue against it, but I wouldn't be surprised if, at the very top of the company, where the finances are all added up, that I'm right

Edited by Bobss
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I do think its either a deliberate decision to do a tiny print run, or that supply chain issues are somehow the cause of the tiny print run.

Its one or the other, because we know the print runs have been very small for some releases recently.

And you can see that they know in advance that the print run will be small because we have 3 sorts of regular hardback releases:

 

1) The ones like Vincula Insurgency or Day of Ascension recently which can be bought through Amazon as well as 3rd party retailers. These books are put for sale on Amazon because they know they have a bigger print run, obviously.

2) The books that are available through GW and 3rd party retailers ( but not Amazon), which is the vast majority of new BL hardback releases. These do sell out within weeks usually.

3) Books like Krieg, Vaults of Terra 3 and a few others recently that are not on Amazon, also not for sale through your retailers and only available on gw.com and sell out within minutes of going up for pre-order.

The fact that this 3rd category doesnt even go for sale with your usual BL retailers is a clear signal that they know very well in advance that they are short on copies.

The demand is there. Its just that they either choose to have a tiny print run, for whatever irritating reason, or they have a forced tiny print run.

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1 hour ago, Bobss said:

I think there's a wider discussion to be had regarding Black Library's sales, the size of its readership and so on. In fact, I think there's an even wider discussion to be had regarding how 'nerd' culture and how fandoms behave, because in my very honest and totally anecdotal opinion I don't see or hear about anywhere near as many people actually sitting down and engaging with a book nowadays - be it a physical copy or on a Kindle or whatever. I know places like r/40klore are booming and the primary tabletop side of things are doing well(?), but I feel like the actual core readership has dwindled over recent years. Once again, anecdotes all over the place here, but in the early-mid 2010s I remember BL pumping out huge numbers of books, not-books and reprints, and my local bookstore (which is a huge multi?national chain) had an entire drop dedicated to 'WARHAMMER.' For the past few years it's been relegated to half a shelf, with a few Dan Abnett books, and we're talking his latest releases here, not the big, thick Gaunt omnibuses of old. Like I said: anecdotes on top of anecdotes, but I feel like changes in readership and maybe even the cat being out of the bag that not a lot of BL books are actually that good, maybe combined with the canon policy that regardless of what the BLDF claim, I know a lot of people dislike because fandoms will always hunger for certainty over artistic freedom; is what is motivating decisions like tiny hardback runs in part. I think Vaults of Terra is arguably one of the best written 40k series of all time, up there with Black Legion and Fabius Bile, but how many people have actually bought a copy, read and then bought the second (and third and so on) book worldwide? A few thousand?

It's easy to shoot down my ruminations I admit. ''B&C is just a tiny fraction of the BL readership!'' ''limited hardback runs are due to post-covid manufacturing/shipping issues!'' Yeah, cool, I get that, and I can't argue against it, but I wouldn't be surprised if, at the very top of the company, where the finances are all added up, that I'm right

I think you are massively under-estimating the reach of BL books.  Guy Haley posted on twitter that he alone has sold something like 1.3 million BL books!  I know what you mean about Waterstones etc massively scaling back on WH displays, but I think that's because there simply isn't enough BL book stock to display on shelves (look at The Dark City that sold out in 30 minutes online!)

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Hello there,

as I've mentioned it before, it's way more appropriate to discuss the overall "flaws" of Black Library, be it schedule, lack of releases, delays and whatsoever.

This thread shall serve you for venting your frustration and speak with others, 'cause shared pain is half of the pain, eh?

Cheers,

Kel

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I’m not sure I buy into bobss argument that people have stopped reading. In fact I remember reading that in 2021 global book sales had increased around 10%. Although the readers were around 80% female which wouldn’t suit BL almost exclusively male readership. But still I think people who love reading are reading more. 
Even regardless of the stats the sell outs speak for themselves. My own opinion is that the margins in books are just not the margins on miniatures and paints. And small margins when your used to extortionate margins just become not worth chasing after a while.

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Low margins would mean bigger print runs though, not smaller surely? Because the up front costs are the same either way. Storage cost is less of a problem when you effectively foist that issue onto Amazon or bookshops too.

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11 minutes ago, Noserenda said:

Low margins would mean bigger print runs though, not smaller surely? Because the up front costs are the same either way. Storage cost is less of a problem when you effectively foist that issue onto Amazon or bookshops too.

They would if book sales are what you are chasing but I don’t think it is. The quick win on high margin plastic seems to be too overwhelming 

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5 hours ago, Knockagh said:

I’m not sure I buy into bobss argument that people have stopped reading. In fact I remember reading that in 2021 global book sales had increased around 10%. Although the readers were around 80% female which wouldn’t suit BL almost exclusively male readership. But still I think people who love reading are reading more. 
Even regardless of the stats the sell outs speak for themselves. My own opinion is that the margins in books are just not the margins on miniatures and paints. And small margins when your used to extortionate margins just become not worth chasing after a while.

Yeah, people most definitely haven't stopped reading. Like, whatsoever. It might be normalizing to pre-pandemic levels, perhaps, considering people are back at work instead of having free time to do with as they please at home. Heck, and the print market has been in a terribly backed-up spot for a while, with printers having insane workloads to catch up on.

And we also have other tie-in publishers like Aconyte expanding rapidly, even grabbing a whole lot of former BL authors who have been suspiciously absent from releases the past couple of years.

If we consider the often terrible coverage on WarCom, and the "LOOK AT THESE HH MINIS, GUYS!!!!"-style marketing they did for the Black Library Celebration this year... I think it's safe to say GW doesn't care much. Heck, I'd even go as far as to argue that the departure of Laurie Goulding from Editing at BL has something to do with the overall shift in strategy. If I remember correctly, Laurie was actually rather encouraging towards Peter Fehervari exploring his Dark Coil more, something other editors early on were disincentivizing. You can say what you want about the bloke mocking the silliness of the 40kLore/4chan-type fandom, but he was probably more interested in good stories being told than hitting arbitrary numbers and moving on, like GW/BL seem to be back to generally.

Corporate policy has taken the scarcity-bull:cuss: to a whole new level. They seemed to try and address the scalper problem not too long ago... but seem to have given up to the point of near-fellating those ebay scalpers with their tiny print runs. And you damn well know this is deliberate on their part: Printing costs have gone up, but they can't go all-digital either, as it wouldn't be going over well. But they know they'll be able to squeeze a ton of money out of people via ebook sales - especially when there's no other choice but paying out your bum on ebay. When faced with ludicrous prices set by scalpers, suddenly GW digital prices start to look kinda reasonable by comparison. There's a simpler villain for people to be pissed about.

 

Black Library policy at this point is easily described as schizophrenic.

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We can safely assume the print run is deliberately low for certain titles and has absolutely nothing to do with covid/paper-shortage and similar excuses. There are other publishers doing just fine and they do 50K+ print runs. And BL is doing fun reprinting some of the older titles.

Some hardbacks have already lower print run because they are GW/FLG exclusive and GW doesn't need to distribute them to so many bookstores. This is pretty much all hardbacks with exceptions of HH titles, some Abnett's stuff and occasionally some of the tie-in garbage novels they release along new big boxes of plastic crack (Indomitus, Dominion, etc). All other hardbacks you simply can't find in regular bookstores and it's been like that for ages. Funny thing is, it's mostly these titles that sell out quickly (Manflayer, The Dark City, Kingmaker, Krieg, etc). On the other hand, stuff like "The Vincula Insurgency: Ghost Dossier 1" is still widely available in many bookstores. This leads to a simple conclusion, GW/BL deliberately limits the print runs of certain titles. Even after multiple occasions of these titles selling out on day one (this was happening way before covid, so again, nothing to do with that) they still haven't adjusted the print run.

I buy multiple books on weekly basis and BL is the only publisher constantly pissing me off and making it extremely difficult to buy their books. Many of my friends feel the same and completely gave up on BL.

note: I might misremember it but I believe Fehervari mentioned in one of the interviews it was Nick Kyme who supported him and convinced him to pursue The Dark Coil. And Peter isn't the only one praising Kyme as a very supportive editor.

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52 minutes ago, Knockagh said:

They would if book sales are what you are chasing but I don’t think it is. The quick win on high margin plastic seems to be too overwhelming 

So you deliberately make less money on the book sales? Thats backwards surely? 

You might have a point if they abandoned print media entirely but they arent doing that, in fact arguably they are bringing out more game based books than ever for example.

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GW are totally wedded to FOMO and scarcity/quick sale/higher margin/move on.

The margins on a HB are far higher/more profitable than a PB. If you then make it exclusive to GW own stores (online and physical) you also retain the retail proportion of the sale and avoid the likes of Amazon discounting. However, to avoid possible egg on face they keep print runs small to avoid possible glut of stock.

Clearly annoying a lot of loyal customers (like me) who are still invested but have not bought a mini for over 20years!  And the problem is it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy...

1) Smaller print runs sell out but annoy those of us who miss out to such a degree that we stop buying...

2) GW cannot justify bigger print runs as less people are buying eventually eroding the fanbase to such an extent that the print runs have to be smaller anyway!

Then again we could all just be part of a BL echo chamber and apart from a few outliers (Abnett, HH, ADB, and Haley who has the knack of securing high interest books like Dark Imperium) the sales figures are pretty small.

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Of course, I can only speak for myself but the way BL currently runs their releases is beyond my understanding.

We got more reprints for cash grabbing than actual new and fascinating stories.

Stuff like Kingmaker fall entirely flat compared to a rereleased in terms of marketing. Why???

Hardback editions which are almost as baseline as softback versions are produced on a limited basis. Why???

 

No wonder that I almost gave up on the printed word related to 40k and HH. The last book from those two I bought was Alpharius. I gave up getting all siege novels and Dog. Why?

On one hand, I simply lost inter3st but on the other, I just don't want to spend money on books I'll probably not read at all.

Audiobooks are a good way to catch up on the sci fi side of the franchise while I rather read either entirely different authors and stories or the fantasy related part of this franchise.

It's frustrating. Another example, the German version of Valdor took what? 2 or more years? 

Not with me. I rather spend my money only on the gems. 

And don't get me started on LE stuff haha 

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Remember how they released FIVE audiobooks today, some of them from the backlog? Yeah, well. They'll have nothing out next week AND nothing up for preorder either. The 6th will be entirely barren of new releases, besides Warcry's new box set.

Clearly, BL know how to do their jobs when it comes to making stupid decisions.

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