Games Workshop confused me with the marketing for this week’s Warhammer The End Times Thanquol book. The company’s other End Times books, in general, have released in hardback form through trade distribution, meaning that stores bought them through Games Workshop’s wholesale trade division at our wholesale discount. Stores can buy GW products, generally limited editions or slower selling items, though what GW calls its Direct Sales division but receive a smaller discount than we do on items purchased through the trade division, meaning that items purchased through the Direct Sales division provide less profit to the store. Since they are less profitable, stores generally only purchase items through Direct Sales when they have a special order from a customer or Games Workshop decides to release a limited edition item that stores feel has enough sales potential from GW customers to justify stocking it in at the lower profit level (Generally, this is not a really hard decision to make as 1) GW limited items tend to have high pricepoints, generating larger profits in dollar value, if not percentage and 2) GW players tend to be very avid collectors, much more willing to purchase limited edition items than are players of other games). Clear?
The way The End Times Thanquol’s release was handled created more hoops for retailers to jump through to get the hardback version of the book, which was released as a limited edition only for $75 through Direct Sales, instead of in limited quantities through the trade division. The paperback version, which usually arrived through trade several weeks or months after the hardback release, released simultaneously with the hardback at $66 but through trade instead of direct.
However, Games Workshop put a special incentive in place for those stores wanting to order the limited hardback. Forward the confirmation email for your order to your trade sales representative and the store receives a credit amounting to an extra 10% off plus the shipping charges for the hardback. Ergo a book that stores could normally order in limited amounts for the normal trade discount is going through Direct Sales instead for the same discount.
With me so far? ‘cause it gets better. Games Workshop put an order cap of one copy of Thanquol per order. So now, stores can order as many any they want, but, as of last week, they have to put in an individual order for each and every book, with Games Workshop picking up the freight charges to the retailer for each copy of the book that ships out, amounting to quite a hefty sum. Maybe there is some reason for going this round but it would have been far cheaper in terms of freight for GW to have allowed multiple copy purchase by retailers or by distributing them through the trade division, with the usual cap on the number of copies ordered. I know of at least one retailer that scored almost 50 copies of the book by ordering one copy at a time and having them all arrive on the release day. The freight charges GW absorbed on that had to eat most if not all of the profit GW made on the sale. I guess, with the price point on its line and the corresponding gross profit, GW can afford to do this once in a while but I hope they do not make a habit of it.