This means that those who do not purchase the print version from Mongoose will be unable to access the extra 40 page content that has been included by Stars Without Number creator Kevin Crawford. Other than that, Crawford says that the printed version is a 'word-for-word identical to the free edition, including layout and art' in a thread at RPG.net.
He explains a little of the decision in the thread:
Next, the reason there are no current PDF plans is because Mongoose only has print rights, and those only on Skyward Steel and Stars Without Number. I could sell a PDF of the expanded book, but Mongoose wouldn't see a penny of the income- which is not exactly kosher. If they're going to go to the trouble of marketing it and getting it into distribution, it's hardly fair for me to turn around and sell a cheaper equivalent for it of which they get nothing. I would expect a PDF will become available once Mongoose and I work out an arrangement that's fair to both of us.
P.S. I know it's likely the MongSWN material will get pdf-pirated whether or not I put it out, but there's a pretty big difference to me whether I'm the one screwing my publisher or somebody else is. I do this for a light hobby, and I'm not interested in getting involved in anything I'd have to feel guilty about.
However, Crawford added that the free PDF version of Stars Without Number at DriveThru RPG and RPGNow would still be made available and he is committed to keep it free.
Distribution is not cheap, and the $40 price is necessary if the book is to be a going concern. Some people have already paid $25 for the hardback, and so I wanted to give something extra to those asked to pay $40- hence the additional 40 pages. If I just strip those and sell them separately at, say $15... well, then somebody goes and grabs the free PDF, pays $15 for the bonus content, and the people who paid $40 for the MongSWN book start sending me displeased emails. I don't want to leave the content locked up only with those who shell out for the Mongoose book as a permanent matter, but any solution I come up with has to be such that it doesn't hose Mongoose's book sales and remains fair to existing buyers.
It would be a lot simpler if I just yanked the free PDF; if I'd done that, I could've spared myself the month of work in adding value to the MongSWN book, because it'd have been the only game in town. But I'm committed to keeping the existing PDF free and available, so that means cooking up more stuff for those who're willing to shell out for it.
According Sine Nomine Publishing, the 40 page content would be purely new content that will cover rules for PC and NPC robots, AIs, mechs, and a new chapter on creating 'conflict-laden societies rooted in the history of their colony world'. All of these would not change any of the existing rules.
Aside from that, Sine Nomine Publishing also unveiled a new cover for the Mongoose printed version of Stars Without Number by Jimmy Zhang.
The Mongoose printed edition of Stars Without Number would be sold for $40 in hardback and is expected to ship in September.
(Picture credit to Sine Nomine Publishing)