Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings -- A Strategy Battle Game, is a trade paperback published by Games Workshop U.K. and distributed to the book trade by Simon & Schuster. The volume, which carries a $24.95 cover price, is more or less identical to the rulebook for the Games Workshop LOTR miniatures game, which was announced as exclusively available from Alliance Game and Diamond Comic Distributors (see 'Alliance/Diamond Have LOTR Exclusive'). Instead of actual three-dimensional miniatures, the book contains press-out cardboard figures as well as information that enables the reader to order the real miniatures directly from Games Workshop.
The existence of the Simon & Schuster trade paperback version of the game was news to executives at Alliance, Diamond, and even Games Workshop U.S. After the existence of this alternate version of the game was brought to their attention on the Game Industry Forum discussion boards (see below), Games Workshop U.S. was able to learn that fewer than 5,000 copies of the Simon & Schuster book were sent to the U.S., and Games Workshop U.K. has agreed to make sure that no more copies will be heading stateside.
The surprise for game retailers here is not just the existence of a non-exclusive version of the Games Workshop LOTR Miniatures. Retailers were told that because of the cost of the license, the miniatures game was only available at a shorter than normal discount. A check with Simon & Schuster found that the trade paperback version of the game is available at Simon & Schuster's normal discounts.
Two issues are raised by the existence and price of the parallel import. First, will sales of the miniatures game be affected by the trade paperback version? Second, does it make sense for game retailers to stock the higher-margin book version of the game, which may still be available through book distribution channels?