DC Talks Changes – $3.99 Bat-books and the Spectre of Cancellation Looms

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By Todd Allen

Over at Newsarama, Vaneta Rogers gets some new information out of DC’s dynamic press junket duo of John Rood and Bob Wayne.  It seems that “holding the line at $2.99″ is getting a more politically nuanced definition.  Batman and Detective Comics will both be making the jump to $3.99 and getting a few more pages.

21204 400x600 DC Talks Changes   $3.99 Bat books and the Spectre of Cancellation LoomsA cynical man might say Batman is their #2 seller and Detective is their #5 seller, so the real surprise is that Green Lantern (#4 seller) _isn’t_ going to $3.99 to join Justice League and Action Comics and have the same higher price for all 5 top titles.  Which would be a very Marvel way to price, except for the extra pages.

Wayne: The reason for adding the story pages is for the story and the editorial content. I think that when you find out what we’re doing with those extra story pages, it will all make perfectly good sense.

One hopes it’s comics pages and not an extra dollar for text pages and sketches.  “Editorial content” doesn’t necessarily mean comics pages.  Personally, I find it interesting that they’re expanding Batman and Detective, but not the Batman: The Dark Knight title (which appears to be DC’s #7 book — the Batman titles are performing pretty well right now).  Are Batman and Detective going to be linked more closely than Dark Knight?  I expect we’ll hear a bit more on that shortly.

Back to the pricing topic, Rood says he wants to keep 32 page titles at $2.99, but he appears open to having more 40 page titles.

Rood: I think we want to partner with the retailer on the optimal solution. One of the dialogues at [the] ComicsPRO [annual meeting] on February 9th is going to be, just being candid about how to be profitable as a publisher, how to be profitable as a retailer, and what’s the product mix that they want?

We’ll be talking about adult titles as opposed to kids’ titles. We’ll talk about format and price point.

And if we still get a strong consensus to draw the line, we’ll draw the line. And if we get some consensus that there are some titles or stories across DC Comics, Vertigo and MAD that are worth different price points, I want to consider it. I want to leave nothing unconsidered.

There’s nothing wrong with talking about it, but most people acknowledge DC’s last move to 40 pages and back-ups (no, I’m not going to call them “co-features”) was a big dud, with most fans not particularly happy with the new features and the higher prices.  It will be interesting to see what the retailers have to say about selectively bumping the size and price of more books.

Rood also acknowledges his much earlier comments about cancelling a few titles at issue 8 and that a few titles may be nearing their end.

Rood: Fifty two is not a mandate. I’m pleased, and as far as I know, the co-pubs and the executive editor have been talking more about whether there are quality stories to be told beyond what’s been put out there so far.

So it’s been a magical number for us, but it’s not a leg irons that are going to make us put out substandard quality.

I mentioned issue #8 because at the Road Show when we were announcing the New 52 last summer, we were talking about looking at it after issue #5. So that’s an exponential success to go this long without talking about replacements.

Nrama: Are there some titles that are being reviewed for cancellations?

Rood: Sure. That’s a safe assumption. And there will be announcements in the new year about how to enhance the universe. But no announcements today.

Rood goes on to acknowledge while the top block of books seems to be holding on the audience, the lower rung is dropping down to what you’d expect to see prior to the relaunch.  Not exactly surprising, but nice to get a confirmation on.

Figure we’re not too far off from a little pruning of the line and a block of new titles being announced.  Perhaps that Robinson/Scott Justice Society title that’s supposed to be in the works?

Better question: if there is an Event/cross-over behind this Pandora character, will that happen before any additions/subtractions to the line?

Comments

  1. “Are Batman and Detective going to be linked more closely than Dark Knight?”

    I’m not reading The Dark Knight, as I don’t like David Finch’s art and I associate the book with him, but hasn’t it been removed from Batman, Detective, and Batman & Robin all along?

  2. John Warren says:

    “Better question: if there is an Event/cross-over behind this Pandora character, will that happen before any additions/subtractions to the line?”

    Seems unlikely if some titles could be axed as early as #8. They’ve already released solicitations up through #7.

  3. If they’re looking at raising the cover price on their best selling titles, that doesn’t affect me, because those aren’t the ones I’m buying.

    On the other hand, I’ll be surprised if none of the ones I’m buying are cancelled, so I guess I’ll come out of these changes with more money in my pocket.

  4. Roberto Briceno says:

    “Wayne: The reason for adding the story pages is for the story and the editorial content. I think that when you find out what we’re doing with those extra story pages, it will all make perfectly good sense.”

    Go fuck yourselves, DC editorial. I know that the company is in the business to make money and yes, to have extra material is fine, but lets face it, this reboot crap is now biting DC in the ass now that the honeymoon is over and Marvel edge out DC in December.

    “Rood goes on to acknowledge while the top block of books seems to be holding on the audience, the lower rung is dropping down to what you’d expect to see prior to the relaunch. Not exactly surprising, but nice to get a confirmation on.”

    The lower selling books are dropping hard because this this huge push for the top books which is the dumbest thing because these books in the are the backbone to the company.

  5. saipaman says:

    I laugh in the face of DC Editorial!

  6. I’ll be holding the line on spending, sorry that DC is not holding the line on asking price. $4 for a comic book, and the same cost to read the Cloud Comic too?

    I get the whole “max out the profit” thing, but it’s usually sold to us in kinder and gentler fashion than “just being candid about how to be profitable as a publisher, how to be profitable as a retailer”. Doesn’t anyone else think that sounds crass??

  7. So the books that sell the most are to be priced higher than those with smaller print runs — that just defies any justification of price of printing vs. cost.

    For all the consumer pressure that’s been put on companies raising prices or adding fees, ie: Verizon and Bank of America, DC should learn from consumers rage during this recession. Who raises their prices 33% during a financial downturn? Who raises their prices 33% ever? Maybe OPEC.

    I’d like to see DC fans take to twitter, the blogs, and their open windows and yell as loud as they can “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!”

    Just don’t buy their over-priced crap for a few months and see how “concerned” DC gets and how they’ll say that they’ve heard their customers loud and clear.

  8. I hope the last pages of all the cancelled books involve The Spectre showing up to dish out an ironic punishment to the low-selling stars of the book.

  9. raising the prices of books gives people a reason to drop the title or to drop other books to compensate. A total phyrric victory.

    Innovations and new ideas will do more to raise profits than constant stunts and squeezing extra nickels out of your already dwindling fan base.

  10. Mikael says:

    So many uninformed generalizations in the post and the comments it’s not even worth getting into a discussion about this all.

  11. Kate Willaert says:

    @CitizenCliff: “Who raises their prices 33% during a financial downturn? Who raises their prices 33% ever?”

    See also: Netflix.

  12. Naveed says:

    I dont understand why there is so much hate….I mean most of Marvel`s titles are at $3.99 and several of those are crap to begin with. And sure Marvel edged DC by a fraction of a % in Dec…but even if these 2 stay this close in market share going forward it is a huge success for DC. Usually Marvel always had a significant edge (like 40%+ vs 25-30%).

  13. $2.99 for 32 pages/$3.99 for 40 pages… which are really just 22/22 + ?? pages of actual superhero “story content”… 12x a year—

    or LOVE AND ROCKETS New Stories: $15.00 for 100+ pages of uncut Xaime and Beto yearly goodness?

    Happy New Year, nuDC diehards!

  14. Do people actually read the article?

    3.99 for 30 pages > 2.99 for 20 pages

  15. CitizenCliff: “So the books that sell the most are to be priced higher than those with smaller print runs — that just defies any justification of price of printing vs. cost.”

    Agreed! Marvel did just the opposite in the early ’00s when it was the lower selling books that got the price hike, with the justification “If we didn’t raise the price, we’d have to cancel it.” That hurt a lot less, both because you knew you were helping a book you liked stay around AND the increases were only a quarter, not a whole freakin’ dollar. And it seemed to have worked, if memory serves…it did for Spider-Girl, anyway.

    Ed: It’s actually 20 story pages in the $2.99 books.

    My question: what the hell is wrong with $3.50 as a cover price? It seems to work fine for a helluva lot of other publishers.

  16. OtisTFirefly says:

    Gee, does this mean 2 extra story pages and YET MORE OF THOSE UNGODLY ANNOYING 6-PAGE COMMERCIALS FOR OTHER BOOKS THAT ARE IN EVERY FRAKING TITLE ACROSS THE BOARD?

  17. If the content is there, then I’ll spend the extra $1 on a Scott Snyder Batman. His work is worth the money. Detective Comics on the other hand isn’t. This move will make my wallet happier as I’ll start slicing the pull list, just like I did with Marvel. Then I can get back to spending reasonable amounts on Wednesdays. :) I was happy with DC’s direction up until this item.

  18. 3.99 for 30 pages > 2.99 for 20 pages

    Ed: It’s actually 20 story pages in the $2.99 books

    Wait, so I overestimated the actual comics-content-to-price-point ratio of those
    superhero floppies by an extra 10%??

    Sorry, my bad.

    /goes back to reading Me and the Devil Blues, Vol. 2 (Del Rey/KODANSHA; 570 pgs*, $19.99)

    (*actual manga content only 550 pgs, though)

  19. Torsten Adair says:

    Interesting… people are talking about $0.99 digital comics and how it “cheapens” the product, yet DC’s Kindle Fire 100 are selling for $9.99, the price point Amazon was using to undercut everyone, before Apple and the Big Six publishers instituted the Agency Pricing model.

    So, Newsarama, next time you meet with Msrs. Rood and Wayne, could you please inquire about their exclusive e-book titles, specifically sales and the possibility of offering graphic novels to other customers, such as libraries and Overdrive? Thank you.

  20. I’ll pay an extra dollar for Snyder’s Batman, sure.

    Until it crosses over with any of the other Batman titles. At that point, I’m gone.

  21. Snikt Snakt says:

    “… people are talking about $0.99 digital comics and how it “cheapens” the product,”

    Who the hell is saying that?!?

    Most people I’ve heard/talked to want to pay the same for a digital comic book as they do a song off of iTunes, $0.99!!!

    So instead they get a few people paying full retail price, $2.99/$3.99 per digital comic instead of a TON of people buying them for $0.99, and probably will keep returning to buy more? Utter genius…

  22. Synsidar says:

    If DC Entertainment has revenue and profit goals to meet, the number of things they can try is pretty limited. Raising the prices of successful series while justifying it with more content probably has a better chance of success than launching new series. Unfortunately, the laws of supply and demand don’t work very well with entertainment. Marvel seems to be going to an extreme with its focus on the X-people and Avengers franchises, but Marvel has always taken a fad exploitation approach with its titles. Trying to make titles broadly appealing would be too much like traditional publishing.

    SRS

  23. Eric Chang says:

    as long as it’s proper content and not fillers like justice league when jim lee can’t draw fast enough then all good

  24. Maybe it’s time to try something more economical for the monthly prints. Paper that is NOT glossy, enough of the muddled, ugly full-color printing … Perhaps it’s time to even try black and white or spot-color again. This seems to have worked well for the PARKER graphic novel adaptations by Darwyn Cooke. IDW’s two-dollar edition of THE MAN WITH THE GETAWAY FACE was the best bargain I picked up last year.

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