Recap: Black Library’s 12 Days of Christmas 2016/17

Between the 25th December 2016 and the 5th January 2017 Black Library ran a 12 Days of Christmas campaign featuring discounts, bundles and even a free digital short story. The campaign is now over and most of the offers have been and gone as we move deeper into January, but I thought I’d take a quick look back to recap on what the campaign offered.

The whole thing kicked off on Christmas Day with The Librarian’s Acolyte, a short story by Graeme Lyon. Anyone who signed up last year for the Librarium book club will already have received this story as one of the benefits, but for the rest of us it was the first chance to read it and take a look at a newly-raised member of the Ultramarines Librarium. You can find my review here, but the long and short of it is that this is a fun little story albeit a non-essential one. The remaining eleven days all featured offers of some sort, from simple discounts to big bundle deals.

Here’s how the campaign as a whole broke down:

  • Four digital bundles: collections of ebooks or audio dramas in digital format.
  • Four non-book items: either bundles of art prints or discounted bags and t-shirts.
  • Two sets of Limited Editions: discounted posh hardbacks.
  • Six individual half price ebooks: the first book each of six popular series.
  • One free short story.

Physical items
All of the physical products included in the offers were limited-run items, from beautiful Limited Edition hardbacks to bags and t-shirts, so it’s a safe assumption that the offers in were designed to help clear out stock. Let’s be clear though – that’s no bad thing, and it’s pretty standard practice in all forms of retail to offer discounts on products that aren’t selling. I’ve seen people complaining about the Limited Edition books being discounted, but it’s simple economics really. Personally I’d say it’s just one of those things if you’ve bought a product at full price and then a couple of months later seen it discounted. It’s annoying, but just one of those things.


What’s interesting is that both of the offers featuring physical books saw Limited Edition hardbacks reduced down to prices that a lot of people would have found much more palatable – two Space Marine Legends books reduced to £20 each, and ten Realmgate Wars reduced to £15 each. The problem was, they weren’t available singly – you had to buy Cassius and Shrike together, or all ten of the Realmgate Wars titles in one big bundle.

That makes sense economically for Black Library, but in terms of successful offers…I can’t help thinking they probably weren’t quite tempting enough. Personally I’d have been VERY tempted by Shrike for £20…but didn’t fancy paying for Cassius as well. I’ve already got the first three Realmgate Wars books in the posh hardbacks and I’d love to get a few more, but I don’t need all ten! Even if I did, £150 is a lot of money to fork out in one go…

The other four offers all featured what I’d loosely call merchandise, in this case art prints, bags and t-shirts. For me personally, bags and t-shirts just aren’t particularly interesting – I’m here for the books. For anyone who does like getting branded merch, both of those offers saw items reduced, albeit not by much. The art prints are much cooler in my opinion, but these suffered from the same problem as the LE books – you had to buy them in bundles. Day four saw three Horus Heresy print bundles reduced to a pretty good price before day twelve saw a 12-print bundle offered at half price. They both offered impressive discounts, but once again I can’t help thinking that the prices (£82.50 for five or £165 for twelve) will have been too high for most people.


I would DEFINITELY have picked up at least one more print if they’d been available individually at the same sort of discounts, but £165? Nah.

Digital editions
Five of the offers featured digital products, and these were definitely not designed with distressed inventory in mind. Instead, they seemed to be genuinely good offers that covered quite a range of topics – classic Time of Legends series, the first books from six major series, a wide range of Mechanicum stories, tales about each of the primarchs, and all eight of the Realmgate Wars audio dramas. There was plenty there to appeal to lots of different people, and at impressive prices. I guess that’s the benefit of ebooks – Black Library can be flexible with prices if they want to be.

Unlike the offers featuring physical books, the digital-only offers were also priced such that there was something for everyone’s budget. Even if you only had a few quid to spare you could have picked up a bargain with the likes of Trollslayer and Soul Hunter at half price, while all of the bundles, even the bigger ones, were available for under £45 each. Sure, it would have been nice to see the Realmgate Wars audios available individually at a discount, but £39.96 would hardly have broken the bank. The same applies to the Time of Legends ebooks – £44.97 is edging towards pricey territory, but that’s for FIFTEEN books!


Inevitably there will have been some people who just don’t like ebooks and therefore would have liked to see these offers apply to the physical books. To be fair, I would have done too. I think we have to accept however that these sorts of offers are simply more realistic with ebooks than physical books.

My only real criticism with the digital-only offers is that there wasn’t really anything that appealed to someone like me. Someone who has a lot of these books already. There just wasn’t anything that really tempted me, as I already had the vast majority of these books and stories either in physical or digital editions. To be fair though, I’m not sure what Black Library could have offered that would have tempted me…

Matching the numbers
So as the campaign was called The 12 Days of Christmas, the big question is…did it fit with the song? You know: “On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love Black Library gave to me…

  • Twelve gallery prints,
  • Eleven Tech Priest tales,
  • Ten AoS hardbacks,
  • Nine primarchs each,
  • Eight Realmgate audios,
  • Seven…nope, five branded t-shirts,
  • Six half price starters,
  • Five tales of Legends,
  • Four…no wait, three gallery print bundles,
  • Three messenger bags,
  • Two Space Marine Legends,
  • And a free short story.

So…sort of.

They tried, at least. It looks like day four should probably have featured four gallery print bundles, only one of them maybe didn’t have enough stock available. As for day seven…what happened there?

Final thoughts
First of all, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Black Library run a campaign like this before, that sets out to feature so many discounts and offers. For that, I’ve got to give them credit – we all like a bargain, and seeing as Games Workshop as a whole organisation isn’t exactly well known for its discounts, it was cool to see this happen.

Do I think the campaign as a whole was successful? Partly, I’d say. There were plenty of big discounts, but I think the focus was too much on large bundles and not enough on smaller items. Perhaps there were lots of Black Library fans who were happy to spend their Christmas money on bundles of art prints or piles of posh hardbacks…but I suspect there weren’t actually *that* many.

When all’s said and done however, I’m grateful that there were offers of any sort. If you didn’t take advantage of them during the campaign, it looks like a few of them are still running (as I’m writing this):

So to finish off, let’s say thanks to Black Library for running this campaign. Next year it would be nice to see offers that had a wider appeal in terms of price point, but ultimately let’s hope that we keep seeing this sort of campaign at all!

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