I dislike sounding negative, particularly about a company and products I very much admire, but shipping from Chaosium is an expensive option.
We hate the high costs of shipping, we make no money from it, and we are always looking for the best options (which need to cover processing via the fulfillment company, a suitably robust shipping box, packing material, tracking etc so we don't end up with dings, damage or returns). As Rick Meints has pointed out on another thread, we have invested a lot of time and money setting up three fulfilment warehouses that decently cover about 85% of our main customers, something that was not easy for a company our size.
The only real advantage, for those who care about such things, is getting the item before it hits the shops.
Yes, as outlined in the original post, that is one of the advantages we do offer, and many people definitely appreciate that. If you want our most current items—for example The Grand Grimoire or Two-Headed Serpent—you can get these as a PDF direct from Chaosium long before you can get them anywhere else .
Because we're printing in China, you get to use and enjoy the PDFs for some 3-4 months before the physical books arrive. And then get the full price of the PDF off if you order the physical book from us. Which we'll ship to you as soon as it arrives in our fulfilment warehouse.
If you want to wait until the books get into distribution into game stores, that's fine too - but by simple logistics it's going to be at least 4-5 months after the PDF version first comes out before they appear on the shelves anywhere.
For example, I ordered the HeroQuest campaign book The Coming Storm when it was announced. The offer was to buy the PDF and then, when the book was eventually printed, have the opportunity to order the physical copy with the cost of the PDF knocked off. Sounded great. Unfortunately, shipping is so high that it almost makes more sense to write off the cost of the PDF and just get the book from a shop. Alternatively, buy it from somewhere like Leisure Games and they provide the PDF as well.
Leisure Games is part of the Bits and Mortar initiative (as is Chaosium), so if you buy one of our books from their store in person, you'll get the PDF for free as well. We're really happy to support this, as part of sustaining our industry by helping local games stores survive and thrive.
[However, if you're suggesting you can buy the book online from Leisure Games and get the PDF too, that should not be the case as it undermines the whole point of what Bits and Mortar is all about: encouraging people to physically go to their local FLGS and support it by buying over the counter. But as far as I can see, if you order a book online from Leisure Games the PDF is not included though.]
Sadly, it's made me far less likely to order products in advance. As for The Coming Storm, I'm hoping to pick up a copy at the UK Games Expo.
Buying at conventions is a great way to get stuff directly, if you are attending, are happy to wait, and are prepared to risk us selling out of key things (as we did at UK Games Expo last year!).