There is a price for convenience

By glblguy

Dungeons & Dragons books
Photo by: brewbooks

I’ve mentioned in a few posts in the past that I enjoy playing Dungeons & Dragons*. Call me a geek, but it really is an incredible game, much like playing a novel where you are the main character. Recently, Wizards of the Coast (the makers of D&D) released the 4th edition rule set and along with it new rule books and adventures. The new rule set not only makes the game better (or at least in theory) but it’s an incredibly smart marketing move for WOTC (Wizards of the Coast) as it encourages everyone that plays to upgrade their books and adventures. I recently learned what my price for convenience is. Let me explain…

The local bookstore vs. Amazon

I went to our local bookstore this weekend to purchase one of the new rule books. They had plenty of copies and the price was $34.95. As I paged through the new book I realized I had forgotten to check price on the internet to see if I could get a better deal. I pulled out my blackberry and did some quick searching, and realized I could get the same book from Amazon for $23.07, as savings of $11.08, pretty significant.

About that time, my wife came over and asked if I was ready to leave. I explained the price difference and said I would rather go home and just order it online. My wife, being the awesome spouse she is quickly said “Don’t forget you have to pay shipping and we get 10% off using our discount club membership.”  I whipped out my blackberry again and looked up the shipping price and applied the discount.

To complicate matters, the book I wanted qualified for Amazon’s “super shipping” and of course, I was $1.93 short. The shipping charge would be $3.99. Applying the 10% discount to the store cost, shipping from Amazon, and figuring in tax the difference was now $6.52. I thought about just ordering another book to remove the shipping but quickly realized I would end up paying more out of pocket overall and honestly didn’t need anymore books to read.

The Dilemma

The dilemma: Pay $6.52 cents extra to get it now, or wait 5 days to receive it from Amazon. I seriously thought about this for a good 5-minutes along with trying to determine if I was being a cheap-skate or just being frugal. I ended up buying the book after my wife saying “If $6.52 kills us, we have bigger problems.”  Very true, but she also knew how bad I wanted the book.

I’m not sure if this was the right decision or not, but I did enjoy reading the book over the weekend. This whole dilemma really made me begin to wonder, what exactly is the price for convenience? I know for me, it’s at least $6.52. What bothers me though is paying that extra $6.52 really bugs me. Should it? What’s your price for convenience? Do you struggle with small amounts like this? Small amounts add up over time. Share your thoughts, add a comment!

* I realize that some people, including some of you, may have strong opinions about D&D as it relates to being Christian. While I fully respect and understand your viewpoints, I don’t fully subscribe. I believe that practicing witchcraft and or sorcery is in conflict with the Bible, but playing a game or even reading a fantasy novel does not. The important thing from my perspective is being able to fully seperate fantasy from reality.

24 Responses (including trackbacks) to “There is a price for convenience”

  1. Momma Says:

    I think that the difference lies in the usage. If you hadn’t picked up the book until after it would have arrived in the mail, you wasted the money. If you made immediate use of the book (and it sounds like you did) than you got a weekend’s worth of entertainment for less than the cost of movie ticket.

    But then, I’m a gamer geek and we’re very good at justifying our gaming expenses! HAHA

  2. glblguy Says:

    “But then, IÂ’m a gamer geek and weÂ’re very good at justifying our gaming expenses! HAHA”

    Ha, so very very true ;-)

  3. Carrie Says:

    Personally, I would have ordered it online. The dollar amount may not be huge but it’s a pretty big percent of the total.

  4. Lynnae Says:

    I would have ordered it online and gotten a filler item to bring my Amazon total up to $25 for the free shipping. But then I love to shop Amazon. And I don’t allow myself to buy books at local bookstores (unless they’re used bookstores) anymore, because I waste so much money there. It’s an addiction, I tell you.

    I don’t know that there’s a right or wrong answer.

  5. Dan Says:

    So let me get this straight, you spent time looking through the book, looking in your blackberry, calculating the price, then factoring in shipping, your discount, etc, before deciding to spend an extra $6.52. I’m sure, knowing you, the process was worth the time for its own sake, but if you look strictly at the value of your time, you would have been much better off just buying the book at the bookstore without a second thought.

    Get your books at the library. It’s free, and you don’t waste time price comparing.

  6. Kristy Says:

    Granted, you were at a larger chain bookstore, from your comments, but the other thing you have to remember – if everyone orders everything from Amazon, and never goes to their local bookstores/comic stores, then the local bookstores and comic stores won’t survive, and Amazon will be your only option. That doesn’t really fit into the whole frugal/not frugal equation, but is another side to consider.

    Personally, we used our Borders coupons to get the D&D books – we had 20% off coupons, enabling us to satisfy our “need it now!” impulse and feel like we weren’t paying too much for them.

  7. Untraditional Home Says:

    This is an ongoing question for us since my husband not only plays D&D but also writes webcomics and posts based on game reviews–we always wonder is it worth it now or should we wait (of course his friends each went and bought one of the 4th edition books so he will DM–so that wasn’t a worry.:))

  8. Faye Says:

    I would still have bought the book online. I’m a big fan of Amazon. I can wait another day or two, even if I want to read it so badly. Or else, I’d check the local library.

    In fact, there are times that I’d be willing enough to wait until the library purchases it. Of course, I suggest the purchase. ;)

  9. celticbuffy Says:

    Don’t fret over the $6 and change. It’s something that you really enjoy and used right away, I’m sure. I obsess over spending on certain things yet not at all on others. Your wife is right, though. If spending an extra $6 is going to hurt you, you have bigger problems than where to buy the book! :) Relax and enjoy it!

  10. Mrs. Micah Says:

    I wouldn’t fret now that it’s done. It’s one of those good/better/best decisions, not a moral one. With the $6 difference, I probably would have ordered it online (but $6 is more to me than to you, I think).

    I hope you enjoy it! :) And there were several D&D groups at my Christian college. No one considered them anything more than fiction, like a group storytelling project. What I got out of them most was a fun bond with some friends.

    @Dan, as someone who works at a library, I can say that they rarely have D&D books (I’ve worked at a number…though one did have the Monster Manual for some reason). And given the store prices, they attract sticky fingers. Since they’re not one-time read or research books either (as explained below) there’s no incentive for libraries to buy them. I think ours was a donation.

    And as someone who plays D&D…you need to have the book to plan every campaign, play every game, etc. It’s not a one-time read. Photocopying the book is probably almost as expensive and more time consuming. Even if it’s at your library, library books aren’t always available when you want them. Nor are they a good choice overall for books you’ll use maybe once a week for the next few years.

    Big fan of libraries for almost everything, but Gibble is 100% right that he needs to own it…at least if he’s the DM some/all of the time. I don’t own any but I don’t orchestrate the games, I just play.

  11. David Says:

    Don’t forget that you helped the environment by not having it shipped to you, as UPS did not need to move the book for you! :-)

  12. Matt Says:

    No, $6 won’t break you but that’s a bad way of thinking, especially if it starts getting applied to multiple things, how many times does $6 not hurt you until it hurts you? $12, $18, $24, $30, $36, $42, $48, $54 it all adds up eventually.

    It like you said though, it’s a convenience fee, you got the book immediately and you read through it right away so it’s money you spent for something, you didn’t just throw the money away so there’s no need to feel bad about it, and worrying is forbidden remember. ;)

    As far as the amazon free shipping, I seem to recall a firefox plugin or website or something that will find items on amazon for the exact (or near) price you need to break the free shipping barrier. It’s worth it if the difference is less than the shipping cost, as yours would have been. Plus you get some random item that may be useful, who knows?

  13. Justin Says:

    Let’s see, I used a borders coupon to get that book for $28.xx including tax at Borders for a birthday present for a friend. I also ordered it on Amazon for 20.93 + 20.93 for the DMG. The Amazon order arrived about 3 days later and shipped for free. I needed the birthday present that day.

  14. Rob Says:

    SO….which is the fantasy novel? Both. No justification needed.

  15. Dan Says:

    Mrs Micah, you are correct about the D&D scarcity at the library, a point I should have mentioned before. However, if one is truly sincere about saving money, one will sacrifice costly hobbies and develop less expensive ones. I too was once a D&D geek, but gave it up for a variety of reasons, cost being one of them. Instead, I developed my interest in what I truly loved about D&D, history and mythology. I found I enjoyed such activates as much as or more than I ever did D&D, and the texts were always available quickly at the library, where it is always free.

    I will probably regret starting such a discussion, but the need to have the latest texts in front of you during a game is one of the reasons I gave up D&D. To me, the fun was in the fantasy, and frequently games devolved into an endless parsing of the rules, consulting ever more specific tables and charts, and quibbling over speculative uses of magical items. I felt I was playing with a bunch of lawyers half the time, rather than with a group of storytellers. When I ran campaigns as DM, I intentionally put my parties in alternate worlds I made up, where they could not consult their books and argue over interpretations of obscure rules. I tried to encourage pure fantasy adventuring, rather than gaming the system to rack up as many XPs as possible. I wasn’t very successful, alas.

  16. Justin Says:

    @Dan, I don’t know why you think D&D is costly. $15-30 for a new rulebook every few years is not very much money. You only need 6 dice, 7 if you want two d-10s. So, for $17/year (including books, dice, paper and pencils) you can have hours of entertainment. What’s cheaper?

  17. Laura Says:

    I would’ve bought it since it was in the store and the difference was small. Besides, you’re also supporting a local business.

  18. Mrs. Micah Says:

    @Justin, very true for simpler campaigns. But some people want the Dracomicon (sp?), etc, etc. My DM had about 5 books. Fortunately, he got most as presents from his family. Another friend had 2 more with extra roles you could play, etc.

    @Dan, I was fortunate enough to play with guys (& 1 other girl sometimes) who played the game because they decided they were too geeky not to. So the entire thing was sillyness. And while there were lots of stops to check info, it wasn’t very legally oriented. There were other campaigns on campus which looked down on us a bit, but I think we had as much fun if not more.

    But my friends all moved to Seattle and now I’m left on the other side of the continent. We tried IM D&D but it’s not as good. :P

  19. justin Says:

    @Mrs Micah: You can certainly play advanced campaigns with just the base books and imagination. Or the group can own a bunch of the books and share as needed. The DM always needs the core three, however the splat books (advanced character classes) can be used by everyone with only one owned in the group. It’s funny you mention the Draconomicon, out entire group fell into a deal for that book of $11 on an Amazon misprice.

    However, when compared to almost any other hobby, it’s much cheaper, increases socialisation and is fun to boot.

  20. SwizzleStyx Says:

    @Mrs. Micah — I too have to play with friends from college whom are now spread throughout the states. We use two things to play. 1) Fantasy Grounds. It’s a desktop software that has maps and dice. $24 2) Ventrillo. Kinda works like a conference call. Everyone logs onto the server and you can talk back and forth with maybe a 1/2 lag.

    I actually play right now without the desktop software. (DM roles for me) That is difficult in imagining what is being said from time to time, but can be done.

  21. RobY Says:

    Regarding Amazon’s Free Shipping

    I often come across books while surfing the net that catch my eye. Most of the time I don’t immediately (and sometimes never) need these however I keep a handy list of them. Then when I need a filler item to break the free shipping threshold, I have several to chose from.

    Sure beats looking for a useless $2 item that I don’t want.

  22. LC Says:

    About this going against Christian values, although I am not into fantasy stuff, keep in mind that CS Lewis was a fantasy writer and also a Christian, and he was a major influence behind JRR Tolkien’s writing.

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