I bought my copy of A Penny For My Thoughts yesterday. Nothing new there, I'm sure, except that I bought it at a brick and mortar store. For a little indie game that was written and published on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, this is good going.
The shop in question is a little hesitant about indie games, I feel. The best experiences they've had so far are Mouse Guard (sells well) and Dresden Files (good pre-orders). Their nervousness comes through in two areas: shelf space and PDF. The copy of Penny was high on the top shelf (almost at the roof), in front of the solitary copy of Spirit of the Century. It was the first time I'd seen either game there so I was excited enough by that. So, although it wasn't at eye level, it was still on the shelf and that's good progress. Of course I asked for a receipt so that I could claim my PDF from Evil Hat, and that launched a little chat about the Evil Hat PDF Guarantee. He was quite happy to facilitate it, even asking if I had a flash drive with me (I didn't), but was skeptical about Evil Hat's policy on trust. "Let's see how long it lasts," he remarked.
To be honest, I think he voiced what many people have thought. Capitalism functions on self-interest, to be sure, but I think there's more to the PDF Guarantee than that. The fact remains that I could have easily bought the book from IPR with the PDF bundled together, but I made the choice to order it through brick and mortar. I wanted them to see how easy it can be to deal with small publishers, and also to get more indie games passing through the inventories of game shops.
Although I'm not a great game designer, I thoroughly enjoy the indie games that I own and I want to share that. Until now that's been limited to some games in my home, organising indie games events at Gen Con Oz and organising Go Play Brisbane. Buying Penny from a brick and mortar is the next step: evangelising to the game store owner and staff.
So I've bought a game from a store that didn't stock it, that is cautious about the PDF guarantee, and that lets me run indie games days in their store. If this isn't an Elton John "Circle of Life" moment, I don't know what is. And the conclusion to this whole story? Everyone wins.
1. And probably posted on lots of forums. I don't read many so I wouldn't know.