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Because the RPG market is quite small and because of a few dominating systems, books are usually printed in shallow numbers. When you want to buy a game that is a few years old, chances are it’s out of print, was never published in your country and, some unfortunate times, the publisher has closed its door.

How do you search for such books? Specialised shops, book fair1, networking on the internet, trying to push for electronic publishing?


  1. A friend of mine managed to find not one, but two copies of the first print of the second edition one of my favourite game, the only one which was printed in three books in a box. Alas, I was number three on the list of people who were interested in buying.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ I know there are two questions, one closed, one duplicate, which can relate to that one already, but they seem to focus on specifics (where can I find this book? who sells up books online?) while this question tries to deal in generalities (should I go for shops, local or online communities, ask bluntly the author for possible publishing plans?). Still, I hope it’s not off-topic. \$\endgroup\$ – Édouard Sep 13 '15 at 1:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is answerable as a high level guidance question. It's not asking for all specific Web sites etc., it's asking for what venues are good in general for finding out of print games. Do not mistake "basic" with "too broad." \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Sep 13 '15 at 14:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Re: Footnote. Darn it, man, what game?! \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 13 '15 at 15:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Continuum (which is sold by Amazon third-party sellers which, somehow, were all funded in 1972), its supplement Further Information (which can be found at unreasonable prices at the same place), the first print of Rêve de Dragon (aka Rêve, the Dream Ouroboros), 2nd edition, a scenario for Rêve, the name of which I can’t remember (I miss just this one in the series… The others are not that hard to find) and Agone. \$\endgroup\$ – Édouard Sep 13 '15 at 16:42
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There are really three options here:

  1. Search online stores. eBay often has copies of old RPG books, and if Amazon has a listed page for it you might find it there. On eBay, copies of old books frequently go cheap. You may have to stalk auction sites for a copy, though. On Amazon, you'll be pushing your luck a bit, and if you do find it, it'll be much more expensive.

    Unfortuantely, for a game like Continuum, you're unlikely to find a cheap copy out there, though it is on Amazon (as is the companion).

  2. Ask your friends. Find friends, or friends of friends, who might either have played it or know someone who played it. They're your most likely source for a cheap copy. It looks like you've done this, and often it doesn't work out. Again, you're looking for a high-demand low-availability game, so it's going to be hard to find.

  3. Ask around at your Friendly Local Game Store. People who frequent your LFGS are likely to be ones who will have a copy of an old, out-of-print game. This is a definite possibility, but it might take a while and you might have to search hard for it. When in doubt, ask the cashier or store owner if they know someone who might have a copy. They'll likely be able to point you to a regular - and you might even get to meet someone new!

The sad truth is, copies of books like these are relatively rare. You have to keep your eyes and ears open - and truth be told, it might take a while and quite a bit of work. I've been trying to do the same thing with Dogs in the Vineyard for a number of months, but I just haven't had the requisite financial leeway. On this point, I'm going to exit with one final tip:

Recognize that how much you're willing to pay changes whether you'll both find a copy and be able to buy it. Set a price point for yourself up front. It's a little sad to say, but sometimes, old copies of games like these are simply worth more money than you're willing to pay, and if that's the case, you may simply have to live with not being able to find a copy you can afford.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Also: various online RPG communities have trades rooms/threads/features that can be leveraged. RPGGeek and RPG.net come to mind as examples, and I'm sure there are more. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 14 '15 at 7:21
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Try to find a games-fair or games-trader market. These are generally organised annually (or sometimes more often) and draw in thousands or sometimes tens of thousands of gaming enthusiasts and sellers.

In addition to scouring their wares manually (not a good choice if you want a very specific thing, excellent choice if you're looking for all sorts of older material or just want to randomly bump into good stuff) they often have a website where you can see a list of the traders that show up.

Email them with your specific requests up front and they can use their network to try and get you what you want. They are quite receptive to this; many have far, far more material than they can comfortably bring and they'll gladly bring things they know will sell over things they hope will sell, a lot of the older materials might not sell too hotly and would stay in storage where you never see it unless you ask them before the event.

In addition, these events often have a public forum where you might be able to arrange a trade/sale with another visitor. That'll increase your reach to another few thousand passionate gamers, any of whom might have this book collecting dust somewhere in their collection.

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