OneBookShelf Discontinues Crowdsourcing Fulfillment Support

Well this is a kick in the head.

OneBookShelf, purveyors of,, etc. just announced that they are no longer going to support publishers who need to fulfill crowdsourcing rewards:

Some of you will recall that we started a new program last August, helping publishers with Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaigns to fulfill your digital and print product orders. Since then, we have helped a number of our publishers to fulfill their Kickstarter obligations.

Unfortunately, after careful examination of the costs and benefits, we have decided to discontinue this program. We apologize to any of you who were considering using this method for your own Kickstarter campaigns.

Of course, you can still use our publisher tools and infrastructure to help send products to your backers.

Now, this is of particular moment to me, as I used RPGNow to fulfill the print and digital rewards for my first Kickstarter campaign with great success, and was planning on using them to fulfill the rewards for the Adventures Dark and Deep Players Manual. Now that that option has been closed to me, I might need to re-evaluate my publishing strategy as a whole, and look to venues other than entirely.

It could well turn out that having to switch to a new publisher at this late date, after the Kickstarter campaign is ended, but before the rewards were sent, could turn a slight profit that would have been folded back into new products into a not-so-slight loss. I find myself in this unenviable position; my planning and budgeting was built around the fulfillment quotes. Now that’s all out the window.

Gotta say doing this so suddenly really makes me feel like the rug has been pulled out from under my feet. Announcing that “as of XXX date, we will no longer support crowdsourcing fulfillment” would have been much better from my point of view, and allowed me (and, doubtless, other publishers caught in the same position) to make alternate plans. As it is, I am left with a very bad taste in my mouth regarding OneBookShelf.

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

8 thoughts on “OneBookShelf Discontinues Crowdsourcing Fulfillment Support

  1. I think that this is part of a trend that the various "ultra-late" KS projects are causing. We may actually see more of this as people attempt to distance themselves from the shitstorm that is brewing with the "2000 Coppers" policing of projects. I suspect we may see less serious RPG KSs and more weird money grabs, to the detriment of everyone.

  2. @Duncan – I don't see it as policing of projects, because there is no "enforcement" threat.

    It's more of a "shining the spotlight" on projects that need a prod. The vast majority of the ones that need a prod have major communication issues. Drawing attention to that has gotten some results and long overdue updates.

    I think the Kickstarter "Gold Rush" will slow down as those that don't understand the business side of things will find it difficult to get a second project funded.

    Folks like Joe, Greg Gillespie and Kevin Crawford are the Gold Standard of Crowdsourced Funding of RPGs

  3. Oh, I don't think it has anything to do with any stigma attached to Kickstarter. RPGNow is the last link in the chain, and as a fulfillment service they don't have any more of the blame for late rewards than the Post Office does.

    I think it's purely an economic decision on their part. They don't make enough of a margin on crowdfunding fulfillment, so they dropped it.

  4. What were they providing in the way of KS Support? I didn't get this from the initial announcement. All I really care about is being able to do a mass order and shipping based on a list of addresses.

  5. @Eirk I see a distinction between policing and enforcement. ie: punishment is through the judiciary and pointing out infractions is policing (though there are plenty of cases like traffic violations where they are done by one and the same organization, and in that sense what you do does not apply in any way.) (in this case the infractions are to an implied contract and the punishment is social stigma–even if the implied contract wasn't meant to have any force, at least one party thought it did.)

    @Joe It probably is exclusively economic.
    My thinking was that by having a reward fulfillment program set up, I think it would only have been a matter of time before someone stated in the KS "RPGnow will do our fulfillment" and the way some KSs have been claiming to be done but X happened, it would be an other place to lay blame.

  6. Yeah, given the "Of course, you can still use our publisher tools and infrastructure to help send products to your backers." it isn't clear to those of us who weren't studying their program exactly what's changed. Why the large financial impact?

  7. Joe et al. – Scott from OBS here.

    As I've said elsewhere, we found that the amount of return for us on the effort – not to mention the many snags we encountered – don't justify the work. We were basically doing Kickstarter fulfillment for publishers at cost, thinking we would recoup our expenses (i.e., our time lost) by gaining new customers from among the various backers who weren't previously familiar with our site(s).

    In the final analysis, though, we found that we literally didn't get a single sale from those new customers throughout the five months we were experimenting with handling fulfillment.

    Long story, short: Too much effort, too little return.

    All that said, publishers can still use our site to send print orders to customers at cost. The overall monetary effect to you is nil. It just means that instead of us doing the groundwork for you (for free), you have to enter your backers' addresses manually and send out the books yourself using our tools.

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