And yet they do. You can buy every single pdf they have of the rules in a couple of nice hard bound books. However, they also give you the rules for free, either online or with the models, since their money comes from the models, not the rules, and it's a way better way to get people into the hobby as it keeps initial costs down so it's easier to get started.
I don't have a source on it, so this is given with a grain of salt, but supposedly WarMachine is actually outselling Warhammer. 40k is still the giant, and will be for quite some time I imagine, but it's not like Privateer Press is some small time fry pecking at GW's tail end. They seem to developed quite a following and profits as a result.
Which is why in my home town I cannot buy any PP products and they don't maintain a local shop specialising in just PP products. I can't even buy hard copies of the PP stuff because no one bothers to stock them, why would they when you can get it all free. Also why bother collecting the PP stuff when there is nowhere to play the game. For that reason there is ZERO interest yet the GW games are booming.
There maybe a following for PP but the just simply do not have the global reach that GW does and will find it very difficult to assail GW's market unless there is some massive shift in the gaming community. I don't see that happening, of the guys in my area no one is the slightest bit interested in anything other than WHFB or 40K and that is not from lack of looking at other game systems.
The main reason is that no other game system has the level of polish and support of GW and that counts.
As for getting guys started you can do that by playing an introductory game in the GW shop and then after that you can get a game off the other guys in the shop. I'd played 4 or 5 games before I'd even bought a mini when I first started out. Hands on with an OTT enthusiastic "shop guy" beats the shit out of anything you can download.
Personally i feel that print on demand or free pdfs just cheapens my hobby for me.
I want my mini manufacturer to put as much effort into their products as I do. If I spend weeks painting my minis to the best standard I can reach, the last thing that I want is some shitty rulebook printed on my crappy bubble jet.
Fundamentally though, you are right. GW is a 1980s business model struggling to keep up with the times,
Or to put it another way a business model that has seen the company thrive since the 1980's and rise to totally dominate the market and continue to do so. I don't see a hell of a lot of struggling to be honest. I'd be very interested to see evidence that they are that goes beyond a suggestion that they are lying on their annual reports or the reduction in player numbers that could be attributed to 100 different causes outside GW, the recent GFC being prime amongst them.
but i also think we are over thinking it, its only a book of rules which were previously available for free in WD.
I guess that is why it is called a Compendium?
Honestly we whine if something comes out in WD and nowhere else (Sisters of battle) and we whine if WD stuff is put into a book.
Edit: for all the wrongness of it, the book has now sold out. Yep GW have got no idea how badly they are doing. Maybe if the stopped all that frantic running about and selling and trying to keep up with demand and had a bloody good look at themselves .......