There's an initiative called Bits and Mortar, which allows retailers who sell books from several RPG publishers to give a copy of the PDF of the same book along with the physical book. The reasoning is that it's good service to the customer and that it helps retailers keep product on the shelves. Several companies that I buy stuff from are in the program, like Cubicle 7 (I have their whole line for The One Ring) and Evil Hat (whose Fate Core I used for the second half of the Streamdales campaign).
But Green Ronin is not part of the program, so I would not get the PDF if I bought the book. So I asked on twitter if they would consider joining the program, and somehow Fred Hicks of Evil Hat commented with some really interesting insights on how the RPG publishing business works and how a publisher evaluates a question like that.
@heinragas Some folks have argued that distro should be, but retail shouldn't. But then, how to reach retail?— Fred Hicks (@fredhicks) August 21, 2015
@heinragas Some have argued that game retail is dying, but I think it's just changing. Old business models don't stand up in the Amazon age.— Fred Hicks (@fredhicks) August 21, 2015
@heinragas Others insist that both are vital. And so on. I've been at least two of these kinds of perspectives at different points. :)— Fred Hicks (@fredhicks) August 21, 2015
@heinragas I can say that as we've used distribution-into-retail more & more, and with the notariety of the Fate Core KS, distro is a big %.— Fred Hicks (@fredhicks) August 21, 2015
@fredhicks The internet has a way of cutting out the middlemen. Distro & retail may be precisely that. But they could also be marketing.— Hein Ragas (@heinragas) August 21, 2015
@heinragas Distro's definitely a middle-man, but not the one that's usually getting cut out. Retailers feel the hurt. Hence Bits & Mortar :)— Fred Hicks (@fredhicks) August 21, 2015
@heinragas Big discount on a $30 PDF, from some perspectives, yeah? Ltd time offers on steep discounts are typical (Bundle of Holding, etc)— Fred Hicks (@fredhicks) August 21, 2015
@fredhicks Depends. Am I paying for the physical product or am I paying for "format-shifting" content that I already bought in another form?— Hein Ragas (@heinragas) August 21, 2015
@heinragas Remember what I said earlier about no two answers being alike? Yeah, that again. :)— Fred Hicks (@fredhicks) August 21, 2015
@heinragas I am (obvs) in the 'same content' camp, of course.— Fred Hicks (@fredhicks) August 21, 2015
If you're an RPG consumer, then this whole book versus PDF thing is interesting to read.
Also, I have decided I will be getting the Dragon Age RPG PDF for $30, and have $25 spending money left for something else...