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Subject: Preliminary question about buying games for people at Tokyo Game Market in December rss

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Brandon Bollom
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Hi all! I haven't been around here much lately. My life has been a bit crazy for the past several months, and I've mostly been playing Magic when I have free time. But I was just looking at my schedule and I might be able to make a trip to Tokyo Game Market this winter. I was wondering what kind of interest there might be, for those of you not living in Japan, in having someone buy and ship GM games to you.

I've been a few times to GM in both Tokyo and Osaka, so I kinda know the deal at this point. I've even posted BGG blogs about my GM experiences if you're interested:
May 7th - Spring 2015 Tokyo Game Market!
March 3rd - Osaka Game Market
November 16th - Tokyo Game Market: Autumn 2014
March 9th - Osaka Game Market

Since it's still early, there are very few games listed for the event, so there's no telling what great looking (or not so great looking) games will be available. But I wanted to see if it would even be worth looking more deeply into setting something up between now and then. If there's little or no interest, I'll likely just pass on going this year and save money. But if it seems like people would actually want games I might try to make it work.

There would be a price mark-up, and shipping internationally isn't cheap. So if there's no interest, I completely understand. I'd also probably only be able to offer games that the publisher sells via a reservation list. Otherwise, I'd just be hoping that they have some copies left when I get to the booth, which I've found in the past isn't really a good plan.

Anyway, I just wanted to post this now to gauge interest. If you think you might be interested, obviously depending on prices and what gets released, let me know here or via private message. I'll start seeing what I can figure out on my end and decide if this is something I can handle or not.

Thanks!
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david fillis
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Hi Brandon,

I'd be very interested.

Thanks for suggesting this possibility.
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Marcelo Antunes
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Me, too.
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Erik Schmidt
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Yep.
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Erich Williams
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I would also be interested in this. There is always a game or two I really want and miss out on since I can't make it.
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Matthew Hilton
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I'd be interested!
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Brandon Bollom
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Thanks everyone! It looks like there's enough interest to at least justify looking further into it. I'll see what I can figure out and get back to everyone soon
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C Reagan
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Please put me on the list as well.
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Frances McGregor
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I think you've opened the floodgates....

Please put me on the list as well!
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Brandon Bollom
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Haha! I'm happy to see that there's interest. I'm investigating more...
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Paul Sudlow
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I am also interested!
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Saigo
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Hello, Brandon. Your Game Market report has always been very amusing, and it's nice to hear that you're planning to start such a nice shipping service.

I tweet daily about Japanese doujin games on my twitter account (@saigo012), so please use it as a means to gather info, especially from October when the exhibitors gradually start releasing info about their upcoming games.

And if you encounter an interesting game, I think it's worth asking the designer/publisher about its language dependence and English rulebook.
I wish you all the best with your shipping service plan.
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Brandon, a couple of thoughts.

As you know you can ship inside JP from the show as the Post Office has a stand for just this. But (unless things have changed), not international shipping. So if you have a lot to collect, mailing one parcel to your own home might save you work if your subscribers are willing to pay the extra cost.

Secondly, whatever method you use to ship out of JP (in my view SAL is the best value for weight/delivery time/tracking), sending lots of small parcels will be costly. If subscribers can find a way to co-ordinate between themselves, then shipping one large parcel to say the US would save money and take some burden off your back.

Good luck!!
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C Reagan
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EYE of NiGHT wrote:
Brandon, a couple of thoughts.

As you know you can ship inside JP from the show as the Post Office has a stand for just this. But (unless things have changed), not international shipping. So if you have a lot to collect, mailing one parcel to your own home might save you work if your subscribers are willing to pay the extra cost.

Secondly, whatever method you use to ship out of JP (in my view SAL is the best value for weight/delivery time/tracking), sending lots of small parcels will be costly. If subscribers can find a way to co-ordinate between themselves, then shipping one large parcel to say the US would save money and take some burden off your back.

Good luck!!


In my experience shipping small items between the US and Japan is not much more expensive than shipping within the US.
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Brandon Bollom
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Thanks again for all of the feedback! I hope I can get some things figured out soon.

Saigo: Thanks for the info about your twitter account! I'll check it out. It sounds most useful. I usually just frequent the gamemarket.jp blog in the weeks and months leading up to the event. I'm always on the lookout for language independent games, those that come with an English manual, or those that look like they'll be easy to translate. My Japanese is pretty low level, so that info always helps me tremendously. Thanks!

EoN: Thanks! I knew about the JP booth, but I didn't have any idea if they shipped internationally. That's actually a bit disappointing as I was hoping to have all labels and forms ready and be able to just bubble wrap and pack games and send them off directly from TGM. If I have to mail a box back to my home (most likely taking the night bus, so hauling a huge box full of games back would be a less than appealing endeavor) that's going to add to the cost. Harumph!

I do have a lot of experience shipping between the US and Japan since I do so with my family and for work fairly regularly. The prices shouldn't be too bad. The only thing I'd worry about with sending to one person and then having them resend within the country is who is responsible for any issues along the way. Games can get damaged, lost, or (horrible to consider) the person could just decide not to resend them to their rightful owners. It would be out of my hands at that point, but I'd feel terrible if anything happened. And with the games being limited productions in many cases, they'd be difficult and sometimes impossible to replace. I guess we'll cross that bridge if / when we get there

C Reagan: Yeah, it's generally not that bad, but can get a bit expensive. A SAL package that would have been about the size of a small game that I mailed a couple of weeks back was over $10, and that was without any packaging materials (it was just a lot of paperwork) or anything like that. It's not horrible, but the price can get up there quickly.

Thanks again!
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C Reagan
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bwbollom wrote:
Thanks again for all of the feedback! I hope I can get some things figured out soon.

Saigo: Thanks for the info about your twitter account! I'll check it out. It sounds most useful. I usually just frequent the gamemarket.jp blog in the weeks and months leading up to the event. I'm always on the lookout for language independent games, those that come with an English manual, or those that look like they'll be easy to translate. My Japanese is pretty low level, so that info always helps me tremendously. Thanks!

EoN: Thanks! I knew about the JP booth, but I didn't have any idea if they shipped internationally. That's actually a bit disappointing as I was hoping to have all labels and forms ready and be able to just bubble wrap and pack games and send them off directly from TGM. If I have to mail a box back to my home (most likely taking the night bus, so hauling a huge box full of games back would be a less than appealing endeavor) that's going to add to the cost. Harumph!

I do have a lot of experience shipping between the US and Japan since I do so with my family and for work fairly regularly. The prices shouldn't be too bad. The only thing I'd worry about with sending to one person and then having them resend within the country is who is responsible for any issues along the way. Games can get damaged, lost, or (horrible to consider) the person could just decide not to resend them to their rightful owners. It would be out of my hands at that point, but I'd feel terrible if anything happened. And with the games being limited productions in many cases, they'd be difficult and sometimes impossible to replace. I guess we'll cross that bridge if / when we get there

C Reagan: Yeah, it's generally not that bad, but can get a bit expensive. A SAL package that would have been about the size of a small game that I mailed a couple of weeks back was over $10, and that was without any packaging materials (it was just a lot of paperwork) or anything like that. It's not horrible, but the price can get up there quickly.

Thanks again!


Totally agree. Sounds like you have good experience.
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bwbollom wrote:
EoN: Thanks! I knew about the JP booth, but I didn't have any idea if they shipped internationally.


Get in touch with Arclight, they run TGM now. Maybe things have changed since. If they still don't do international shipping, ask if it is possible. Maybe people at Arclight or JPPost thought nobody wants international shipping before. Now more Western gamers are attending the show, maybe they'll offer it as an option if you raise it with them.
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Simon Lundström
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They have a simplified office there, so I don't know if they have the technical possibilities or the pricing info ready. My rough guess is that they just have the boxes and the pricing info with them, and then handle everything when they come back to the post office, so they should technically be able to.

That doesn't mean they will, though. My sad experience with Japan is that sometimes, officials can get really "no, we can't", when it's something out of the ordinary.

Worst case, bulk-send it to the hotel/place you stay, and then divide it up there. Won't be much; sending withing Japan is cheap and sending overseas is ridiculously cheap (at least by sea).

Just double the price for the games. It gives a little margin. I did that once, it worked.
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Brandon Bollom
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Thanks again for all of the replies and information!

C Reagan: I do, but prices have gone up recently as well. I definitely need to check it all out again.

EoN: Thanks, I'll talk to them. Would be great if I could ship directly from TGM and I'll see if there's any way they can make that happen or point me in a direction to get that to happen via Japan Post.

Simon: Unfortunately, as Simon said, Japan is very good as just saying "nope, this is how we do it." But if I ask ahead and let them know that there are people interested in this service, there's a chance.

It wouldn't be terrible if I have to send a box back to my apartment. I live in Japan, just no where near Tokyo. So I'd have to ship them to myself, then divide everything up and repackage and ship them to those who purchased them. It would be fine, just add another layer of work and cost to the whole process.

I'd considered the "double the price of the games" plan, but I'm worried that after paying for my trip to Tokyo and back, a night of hotel (unless I just go there that morning, do TGM, and return in the same day which sounds awful), pay for shipping back to my apartment, then pay for shipping to everyone around the world, that I'd end up in the red just to make some friendly international gamers happy. I'm all for being a nice guy, and I want people to be happy, but it has to work out financially or it's better for me to just stay home.

I just need to research more, get some hard numbers and see if it's feasible. Thanks for all of the great feedback and info!
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Simon Lundström
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bwbollom wrote:
but it has to work out financially or it's better for me to just stay home.

If you're planning to finance the trip to Tokyo on this, it might be hard. I'd advice you to focus on that it's worth the sheer packing first.
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Tom P
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If you think you can make it work, I'd definitely be interested.
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Thanasis Patsios
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Hey Brandon,

Another one highly interested here. Please add me to your list and thx for suggesting it.
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Brandon Bollom
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Simon: That's the part I'm trying to figure out. I'm already in Japan, so I'm hoping my costs won't be too much. But at the same time, I can't really afford to do it just for a personal vacation. I'll be traveling during the winter holidays shortly after, so the TGM trip kind of has to pay for itself. I'm hosting my cousins next week on a whirlwind trip of Japan, so hopefully I'll be able to investigate some things while I'm in Tokyo. Thanks!

crazylegs & NasosP, thanks! I've got you on the list
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Simon Lundström
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bwbollom wrote:
Simon: That's the part I'm trying to figure out. I'm already in Japan, so I'm hoping my costs won't be too much. But at the same time, I can't really afford to do it just for a personal vacation. I'll be traveling during the winter holidays shortly after, so the TGM trip kind of has to pay for itself. I'm hosting my cousins next week on a whirlwind trip of Japan, so hopefully I'll be able to investigate some things while I'm in Tokyo. Thanks!


If you want to finance the Shinkansen trip to Tokyo, you'd probably need to go higher than double price, but then again, I'd say few people are ready to pay more than double including shipping, so all you need then is many orders.

Just calculate, imagine you get an order from 10 people, totalling 30 games for an average of 1,000 yen each. That means you'd need to pay 30,000 for the games, and shipping on top of that. Would probably work if your Shinkansen ticket is 10,000, but not that much more. If you get an order of 30 games from 30 different people, it will probably not be much left. However, if you get 50 orders from 5 people, you'll probably be pretty safe. You'll just need to figure out 1) how much cash to you need for it to be worth it, and 2) how many orders would that include.
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Zimeon wrote:
However, if you get 50 orders from 5 people, you'll probably be pretty safe.


That's quite a lot to carry back, even for small boxes. The weight alone will add up. You'd have to mail them back. I lugged an Ikea bag and a tote and my small backpack just back to Ueno and that was hard. If you carry them back yourself, you'll need a large wheeled suitcase. Muling is hard.

Plus, you'll have to get a lot of pre-orders in. Which means, for the interested people reading this thread, they'd have to commit to orders well ahead of TGM, so you have time to get the pre-orders in. As you know Brandon, there's little time for browsing, and almost no chance of getting doujin stuff without pre-orders. The professional publishers will carry larger stocks, but the small press carry very little.

I am not trying to put anyone off at all, but I think you need to consider deadlines and cut-off points, and the interested parties needed to be drawing up realistic wishlists now.

One thing you might consider Brandon, is organising a bundle. Instead of a long disparate list from several people, you decide what games you can collect. Say it is 6 games, you offer this as a bundle. Then you'll get X people to commit, and then you can price it out. You'll be able to handle the pre-orders, especially if you're dealing with the more pro-doujin, you'll have the size and weights sorted, your pick-up path round TGM will be much easier to handle. Only then you might get odd items for those X people, especially if they are from the same publisher. For example, if you get a bundle from MD, you can easily add in other MD games from the back catalogue that are still on offer. Less work for you, more surety for your customers.
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