Is DC launching a stealth price hike?

201307111536 Is DC launching a stealth price hike?
While holding the line at $2.99 was a rallying cry for DC a few years ago, since then realities have been encroaching on comics pricing. DC’s stealth price hike is well under way and it’s much like when Marvel started hiking things to $3.99 several years back. New series are among those getting hiked, and Trinity War seems to be an excuse to raise some prices, with the odd legitimate double-sized issue thrown in.

For instance, this week alone:

Supes Unchained = 25 pages (2 not by Jim Lee)/stiff cover for $4
JL/Trinity = legitimate 35 pages/stiff cover for $4
Astro City = 24 pages for $4 (yes, there are 40 pages — 14 of them are ads, 1 letter page, one Vertigo editorial page)

If its over 20 pages, is it $4?

Moving forward to the October solicitations, we see the Justice League books staying at $3.99/32 pages, as well as Forever Evil, Superman/WonderWoman, Damian: Son of Batman, Superman Unchained, Action (no longer listed as 40 pages), Batman/Superman, Detective (no longer 40 pages), All-Star Western (no longer 40 pages), 

Astro City is listed as $3.99/40 pages, but who knows how many ad pages it will have in October?

If you want more $3.99 comics, keep buying them.

Comments

  1. Shags says:

    Something also of note when it comes to their recent pricing: DC has increased the amount of time before their older issues drop a dollar on their digital app to 2 months now.

  2. Rob Staeger says:

    So glad to finally see an article on this! If those 32-page notations in the solicits are accurate, I’ll be dropping a *lot* of DC soon.

  3. Jim Caldwell says:

    Supes Unchained = 25 pages (2 not by Jim Lee)/stiff cover for $4
    Compare this with the price listed under the Big Number One. Is that a misprint on the art in question, or is that a special edition variant that is higher-priced than the regular edition?

  4. Glenn Simpson says:

    Supply and demand.

  5. Jim Caldwell: issue #1 was indeed $4.99, but it was extra long and had a double-sided poster included.

    Bad move on DC’s part. I only get one $3.99 DCU book, Batman, and if any of the other books I buy now went up, I’d drop all of them. They’re all kind of marginal, but enjoyable enough at $3. At $4? No way.

  6. I’m not sure how well supply and demand applies here as the direct market is not the best example of an approximation of perfect competition.

  7. Except for Wonder Woman, The Wake, Trillium, Sandman, Coffin Hill, Collider, Tom Strong and Hinterkind, I’m not buying main-universe DC titles any more.

    And Except for Casanova and FF I’m not buying Marvel titles.

  8. KentL says:

    Huh. Didn’t realize Astro City was up to $4. Totally worth it, though. I haven’t read the first issue yet, but I would assume it’s the usual awesomeness.

  9. Astro City has been $4 since The Dark Age Book Three in 2009.

  10. Torsten Adair says:

    Yeah, Astro City is worth the $4.
    Worth whatever price they are charging for the hardcover.

  11. Torsten Adair says:

    Batman Beyond is also worth $3.99. Three continuing stories!

  12. Just makes it easier to drop DC’s stuff. Once Batman Inc wraps next month, I’m down to just Snyder Superman.

  13. Dr5who says:

    Might just be cheaper to buy the trades when they come out. Unless DC charges an arm and a leg for them like Marvel does. The $3.99 price makes me step back and wonder what to keep getting monthly and what to drop. To bad it is going that route.

  14. considering that there are a lot of people pay 7+ dollars for coffee every day, 4 dollars should not be a big deal (really glad I never got into drinking that stuff). As someone that is trying to make his own indie comics and sell them, I think 4 to 5 dollars is not asking for much considering how much work goes into making comics. I mean seriously, if you go to an art walk or a convention there are people that will by tiny art prints or some stupid t-shirt for 10 to 15 dollars instead of buying a 24 page comic for 5 dollars.

    The first convention I tried selling comics at, everybody was buying these minecraft cardboard box heads that cost 20 dollars. That was painful…

  15. james says:

    I agree that a lot of work goes into making comics and people deserve to be paid for it. However, if people can’t afford it then they can’t. No argument will change that. This will just lead to fewer people buying Marvel and DC books that do not feature the same six characters.

  16. Saipman says:

    I’m down to just two DC books and both will go if the price goes up to $3.99.

  17. Everything is going up in price everywhere. Every single thing. Digital makes more sense , as do trades. The goal eventually is to hook a few more million into comics and then lower digital prices. I got my fingers crossed.

  18. I am a trade book collecter, btw.

  19. It doesn’t surprise me. Marvel’s been publishing a lot of 20-page comics at $3.99 with no ill effects for some time now.

  20. Todd Allen says:

    I wouldn’t say no ill effects for Marvel. When New 52 and the $2.99 price point got a lot of fan buy-in in late ’11, Marvel’s numbers started taking a tumble. The majority of Marvel Now doesn’t seem to have quite leveled out, either. See the PW comic shop survey on that. There does seem to be a price vs. enjoyment equation of some sort on the consumer side and not all books are effected the same way. (i.e., yeah… I’d pay $3.99 for Astro City, but not Vibe — to pick a couple semi-random titles)

    And to Jimmy’s point, I tried All-New X-Bendis, found #1 and #2 too thin for a monthly/bi-weekly/whatever and put it on the library tpb list. Of course, when V. 1 arrived from the library, I thought that was still too thin, but some of these current titles read a lot better in book format.

  21. While I agree with Jimmy that prices are going up everywhere, inflation has been relatively low recently (along with interest rates). So what justifies a 33% price increase? Has anyone received a 33% pay increase at work recently? Or ever? Why not go up to $3.29 or $3.49? There should be other options. I know it is difficult to sell ads when their circulation figures are so low. How about dropping that awful 2-page channel 52 crap? I’d rather have house ads or a letter column than that. I was already leaning toward dropping many of their $3.99 books because I felt that they were charging me for back-up stories with creators and/or characters that were not in line with my reasons for buying the books in the first place. I’d rather pay $3.29 for Batman without the backup story that often seems like filler to me. They also might make more money by offering variant covers to the general public. I’d pay up (a little) for a cover that I preferred. Bottom line for me, if they raise the price across the board then I will drop about 25% of my DC pull list.

  22. I just don’t understand why the price point has to jump from $2.99 to $3.99 — what happened to $3.50??

    Also, completely agree with Torsten’s comment on Batman Beyond Unlimited. Absolutely worth the $3.99

  23. zombieundergrnd, I think you answered your own question: why hike prices a little, when you can increase them quite a bit and fans will continue to buy them. Of course this is suicide for the long run, as the amount of money most of us have is limited and will automatically restrict what we can buy — but the powers that be seem to think that they can manipulate prices w/o significant effect on their bottom line. We’ll see, but like most I’ll re-evaluate my pull list accordingly (and I’m down to one marvel book at this point, and more than willing to cull some New 52 books if needed).

  24. So Jimmy, are the backups gone from All-Star Western, then? I love them, and they really add a lot!

  25. s!monsa!z says:

    nico h – could not have said it better muhself

    jimmy pal – well said

    S!mon – what?

  26. s!monsa!z says:

    chall – even bettersaid. i ought ve waited til your post before mine previous because you, sir or madam, am whoms i agree towards most with tham words yuddundair eckspresst. you got my vote, price accordink to material cost and creator labor and no business in profit margins yik! shitforbid a corporative entity should earn enough equity through sales revenue to continue and expand that thang they dew while incentivizing proper enough talent to evolve a revolutionary mindscene and potential unimaginednesses can be free to bleed out our fingertips as enhancedmints to this medium we love inits centurylong(so far) struggle(losing) against censorship. i think i changed my mind. look at pricing of sequential storytelling funnybooks through comics entire history shit always cost more eventually but then(past) as now(now) comicsis have lowerest inflation percentage rates compared to other stuff what we buy; petrol, vidya games, prostitutes, et al

  27. Just to note: As a couple people have pointed out, ASTRO CITY’s price hasn’t gone up. It’s been $3.99 for 24 pages for some time now.

    It could be at $2.99 is we were willing to make it 20 pages long, but we’re not, so there we are.

    kdb

    PS: The reason Marvel and DC don’t do books at $3.50 is that as far as their data shows, a book priced at $3.50 will sell virtually the same numbers as the same book at $3.99 — price resistance isn’t any different at either level. So pricing it at $3.50 loses them 49 cents per copy, and doesn’t gain them anything in return.

  28. s!monsa!z says:

    mister busiek thank you for that, try as i might i couldn t find the words but you said it. also astro city dark ages was many a source of inspiration and guidance through tough times within this last half decade, mister anderson and yourself are quite the crew and i love what you do.

  29. giuliano says:

    Ironically, most of the best (in my opinion) books are priced at 3$ (Daredevil, Hawkeye, Young Avengers, Chew, Saga, Jupiter’s Legacy), and most of them sell well enough (especially the indipendent ones). These days margins has to be very thin if Marvel and DC can’t afford to invest in a 3$ Batman or Spider Man to widen the readership.

  30. Simon Jones says:

    I am sure that someone can correct my understanding of the economics here, but from a pricing strategy point of view, you always try to set your price to the maximum the market will bear in order to maximise your mark-up on each unit sold. If it doesn’t work, the market obviously can’t support your product at that price. DC are just doing what any company would do.

    Do I like it? Not really. The only concession I tend of make towards $3.99 books is Superior Spider-Man. Although I appreciate DC’s efforts in providing extra content in some of their 3.99 books like Detective Comics etc., their books just aren’t really my cup of tea any more, and I can tradewait anything (or buy digitally somewhere down the line).

  31. Simon Jones says:

    My last post sort of stopped there….Sorry about that.

    I meant that I can tradewait most things. I can make exceptions…One doesn’t collect comics for years without having poor impulse control and and obsessive personality, but I try to keep those under control for the most part. And I try to support books which I like, which might not be the most mainstream (e.g. Hawkeye, Astro City, Chew etc.). If I think the content is worth it, I will buy it in one format or the other.

  32. KentL says:

    “Astro City has been $4 since The Dark Age Book Three in 2009.”

    Just goes to show how much I pay attention to price when the comic is awesome. Can’t say that about a number of the titles out there.

    “Digital makes more sense , as do trades.”

    Trades definitely, digital less so. Hard to justify paying the same (actually more since I get a discount on preorders) for a digital copy of a book that could disappear without notice. I like what Marvel has been doing, giving away digital copies with the physical ones.

    As far as trades go, all of the Image books I follow, I follow in trades because they are timely. DC’s trade schedule is awful, though, and Marvel’s is slowly getting worse. There are books from the Marvel NOW! initiative that I would probably be following if they did a better job scheduling their trades. As it is, I will likely lose interest in the title before it ever comes out in TPB.

  33. v wiley says:

    As a retailer, I can state that several of my customers have responded to the $3.99 price with, “I may casually buy it at $2.99, but at $3.99, I’ll a lot more particular about the purchase”

    The numbers overall of the big two reflect this, as fewer of their titles stay at a great sales number for long, then start the inevitable slide to non proftable sales figures. Quality books will indeed prosper at higher prices, but the majority won’t have that luxury.

  34. To the health of the majority of the books Marvel and DC have been putting out the prices have gone up but the content has gone down, and I am not just talking page count. But if you look at the creator owned books you will see them doing some amazing things.

    I would gladly pay $5 for a mini-comic that someone made themselves, rather than give a retailer the same for Superman or Spider-man book. The market guided me towards the “independents” the creator owned books. I know it has driven some out of the game all together.

  35. The other Eddie O. says:

    5 bucks for 1/6th of a story that will probably be retroed out of existence in the next company wide event? Doesn’t seem really worth it anymore does it?

  36. Even more reasons to just buy more Image books. ERIC STEPHENSON FOR PRESIDENT!

  37. $2.99 has been the norm for years. If they raised it to $3.29, that would last about a year, $3.49 another year, and so on, and it would feel like they are raising the price constantly and enrage fans more. I’d rather they did the jump to $3.99 and let that ride for a few years until they need to do it again.

    Simon says (heh), “you always try to set your price to the maximum the market will bear in order to maximise your mark-up on each unit sold. If it doesn’t work, the market obviously can’t support your product at that price.” I’m not an economics grad, but if the market can’t support your product at that price, you lower your price until the market can or you discontinue your product, such as electronic devices. I’d like to see a comics publisher try that: Sword of Sorcery isn’t selling well, so lower the price form $3.99 to $2.99. That doesn’t work, try $1.99. Then cancel it. Instead, they go right to cancelling it.

  38. Sadly enough, it’s my LCS of 19 years that is going to suffer the most. In January of last year they had to give up the subscriber discount that gave me 20% off. At that point I cut off all $4 books that were only 20 pages. Went from spending easily over $40 a month to around $20.

    I saw the writing on th wall with DC flirting with $4 with no extra content and as I next month I’m buying all my $4 books through mail order where I can get a healthy discount.

    My weekly LCS bill will now likely be around $10-15 at the rate things are going. It’s too bad, as these guys are a second family to me.

  39. SniktSnakt says:

    DC new 52 comics are no longer worth $3 much less $4 a pop, IMO.

    A great first year (for the most part), since then its been a slow, inevitable slide into the crapper. I left them all months ago and haven’t missed them a bit since.

    Marvel isn’t much better, I’m only bothering to read 3 of their monthly books, as long as they maintain their quality…

  40. @Simon Jones: “I am sure that someone can correct my understanding of the economics here, but from a pricing strategy point of view, you always try to set your price to the maximum the market will bear in order to maximise your mark-up on each unit sold.”

    It’s not necessarily “maximum the market can bear,” more like “best balance between affordability and profitability.” Especially because “what the market can bear” is extremely relative. 10,000 people might bear a $3.99 title, but maybe 50,000 can bear a $2.99 title. Or more accurately, you THINK some vague percentage more will bear the lower price and then you try it and it winds up making a marginal difference, but there’s no hard data to say that was because of the price, the marketing, the book itself, or the fact that it came out on Leap Day. Setting prices for non-essentials is maddening. And then maybe, in the end, you’re OK with the profit margin on a lower-selling, higher-priced book. It’s all very subjective.

    No matter what happens, you’re definitely trying to price your book within established norms of affordability, not the maximum that you can conceivably get away with.

  41. Raising prices by a dollar here or there isn’t really that big of a thing when you’re dealing with printed publications — the COGS on a saddle-stitched periodical can eat up most of that $3.99 before you even get to pay your creators, your staff, your bills. In book publishing you have much higher acceptable prices and such greater pricing flexibility within that — when you’re paying roughly the same unit cost for a 300-pg paperback book as you would for a 32-pg comic book, you can see where the trouble begins.

    I think part of the reason this is such a hot-button issue is that monthly comics today are published, produced, and sold like books, but they are born from a system where they were published, produced, and sold like magazines. In the magazine business it’s all about volume — you print 1,000,000 copies just so you can throw away 700,000, sell the rest at a couple bucks each, and you wind up making a profit due to economies of scale.

    Readers of superhero comics are still thinking of them in terms of that cheap-as-possible disposable system, and thinking of that as the golden “should,” even though comics today have higher production values, are printed to order for their audience rather than printed for mass distribution, etc. If we accepted that superhero comics today are almost a bespoke, made-to-order luxury just for us, the pricing wouldn’t seem so outrageous.

  42. One question people have had in specifics to the books starting at $3.99 is “Are the pages for the ads becoming less?” From what I’ve heard all the books starting at $3.99 may have less ads and just letting the book be mainly consisting of the stories.

  43. Steve Maser says:

    A more interesting question to ask would be: Why is Fearless Defenders (a marginally-selling book *at best*) jumping to $3.99?

    I know I’m dropping it at $3.99 — it’s not that good to justify this.

    But if it’s an experiment in marketing to see how many people stick with a book *regardless of price* — I’ll be curious to see how that works for them.

  44. Dave Smith says:

    Well I’ve been lucky to get a 1% wage increase every year over the last ten years(likewise everyone I know) and I can’t see that changing in the future(and I work in a hi-tech industry for a very profitable company)

    So a 33 % price increase is a big hit. Especially if this happens every couple of years.

    Come August I will be dropping all DC titles at $4 and if that takes me under the amount to get my LCS discount I will be dropping all my comic books and going to trades.

  45. I definitely think Marvel and DC are having trouble selling ads. Usually only the back of the book ad and the inside cover ad are from outside advertisers. The interior ads seem to be mostly ads for other comics or for marvel licensed products.

  46. Saipman says:

    If the goal is to hook civilians on digital comics, price the older material at a quarter, better yet, a dime.

  47. SteveMM says:

    I still have not found an answer to why Marvel stopped selling on the newsstand. I am not close to a comic store and have been without Marvel for over a year. Can anyone tell me why?

  48. If comics are such hot commodities that the corporate suits at Disney/Warners think they are, then selling ads to help subsidize creative and printing costs should be no problem. Or include product placement like movies do. There are all kinds of options beyond raising cover prices 33%.

    I’d gladly pay $1.99 for the same amount of content, and more ads, for books that are interesting to me.

    Kurt – great point about price elasticity. Where does it top out? If they can charge $3.99, in theory they could charge $4.99 per issue too, right?

  49. Chris Hero says:

    I’ve made a few comics by hand myself and I know the work that goes into that – a LOT. I think if you’re writing, drawing, inking, coloring, lettering, making copies, stapling, and selling the books any price you name is justifiable.

    But when there are huge parent corporations subsidizing the cost, it’s kinda hard to justify $4 for a single. It’s kinda greedy and it won’t last. Eventually, there will be more crowd-funding, as Dean Haspiel points out, or more digital publishing, or something. Look at the prices of mobile phone apps. The vast majority are done by people who do it all themselves and then price according to their whims. The price seems to be settling around the $1 – $2 mark. As more people contribute more product to the marketplace, the prices will even out to more of a free market determination.

  50. @SteveMM – I dunno about newstands, but Barnes and Noble carries both single marvel issues in the periodicals section and TPBs.

  51. >> Kurt – great point about price elasticity. Where does it top out? If they can charge $3.99, in theory they could charge $4.99 per issue too, right?>>

    Sure, but I bet there’s a much larger level of sales resistance at $4.99 than at $3.99.

    But probably not much of a difference in resistance between $4.50 and $4.99. At this point, it seems to be the dollar break that matters, not fractions within it.

  52. Synsidar says:

    If comics are such hot commodities that the corporate suits at Disney/Warners think they are, then selling ads to help subsidize creative and printing costs should be no problem. Or include product placement like movies do. There are all kinds of options beyond raising cover prices 33%.

    Discussing the pricing of comics gets messy, because supply and demand isn’t relevant, and competition is less relevant to shoppers than the pricing of commodities is.

    Say the price of a BATMAN issue is $2.99 instead of $3.99. What will the shopper do with the extra dollar? He probably won’t buy more Batman comics while he’s at the LCS, and isn’t likely to buy more DC comics. DC has no control over the shopper’s options; a lower price just means less money gained from the comic.

    Compare the buying of comics to buying goods at a grocery store where buyers are influenced by pricing, sales, brand name loyalty, product placement, competition between stores, impulse vs. needs purchases, etc. Book stores don’t hold sales; they do discount best sellers.

    Ad sales aren’t relevant because monthly releases carry the same ads. The demographics among series don’t vary enough to affect ad buys. Seeing the same ad in five or six comics is no better for the advertiser than seeing it once.

    SRS

  53. @Synsidar — you may be right about individual titles, but collectively it has an effect. I may continue to buy Batman or Wonder Woman at the higher price point, but I’ll drop books like Green Arrow and the Flash to do so, and completely forego trying books like Pandora, Green Team, or the Phantom Stranger (all books I’ve added to my pull list). The effect — which was indicated a few years ago with this, I think — is that this undercuts lower tier books pretty dramatically. While the higher price point may compensate for the lost sales on a particular individual titles, does it also compensate for the lost sales on other books as well? Price point may be inelastic, but disposable income is limited. Something has to give, and at the end of the day it will be the purchasing of product, not the buyer’s resistance to a higher price good.

  54. Torsten Adair says:

    Marvel has not stopped selling at the newsstand… newsstands have stopped selling Marvel. (From what I understand, the margin on comics is worse than magazines.)

    Barnes & Noble sells comics, and quite aggressively. I’ve seen an entire section (six shelves) packed full of comics! Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Bongo…

    I recently paid $3.99 for a comic! A digital comic! That I own! It was A Distant Soil, it’s DRM free, and I can buy future issues whenever I remember.

  55. Synsidar – Across the line, ad sales could be relevant, just requires an aggressive sales force and a well-articulated value proposition. Comics have changed a lot from the days when ads for x-ray specs and Tootsie Rolls were the norm. I’m suggesting that they try something out of the box to offset costs and maybe increase profitability, rather than throw up their hands and say “this is the way it is.” Any company that advertises on G4 or even in Maxim could be on the target list for ads.

    And we don’t know what that buyer will do with that extra dollar. He might buy Detecive Comics, or try Green Team, or Spider-Man, or something from one of the advertisers. DC’s goal should be to get as many units sold as they can, at the most reasoanable profit as a company.

    I understand the point about this being an imperfect market. But there are price barriers here, which is why I’ve dropped almost all of my DC purchases. The cost/value equation doesn’t work for me any more. @jsf is spot on regarding limited disposable income, and that’s the reality for most people.

  56. Majorjoe23 says:

    “If the goal is to hook civilians on digital comics, price the older material at a quarter, better yet, a dime.”

    Apple’s minimum price is 99 cents. But if Marvel or DC wanted to they could probably sell bundles for 99 cents.

  57. scott says:

    This is the final straw for me. I went against my better judgment and gave those 4 dollar superman books a shot just because I really wanted some good superman comics. Both were unsatisfying. Editorial and marketing don’t know how to tell stories. The Superman/Batman art was great but we’ve seen it a million times and I have no interest in them fighting slightly more experienced doppelgangers. None. Synergy. Twice the superman/batman. Who cares? I rather they fight the lame old Penguin or Rainbow Raider or something. The story is obviously not the idea of Pak. He seems to rightly have no interest in telling it other than seeing the Jae Lee pages like the rest of us. Supes Unchained was similarly bland. We’ll like the Jim Lee poster because it’s Jim Lee art bigger than normal! Just have him draw Superman and a space station we call a satellite. Disappointing. You still need to attempt some sort of new image that has some inherent coolness other than the art style. The Lois scenes made no sense because there’s no love there, no sexual tension, just an awkward editorial mandate. And there are more problems. Basically. All I see when I look at these books are people who co-opted the fun ideas of creative people and perverted them to cheat me out of as much cash as they can. The new Superman movie was another thing that really made it impossible for me to deny this any longer. It’s time for me to move on. I got way too attached to the stuff I loved as a kid and have neglected my responsibilities to live in the present and accept reality as it is.

  58. Synsidar says:

    DC’s goal should be to get as many units sold as they can, at the most reasoanable profit as a company.

    But that’s arguably what they’re doing with their pricing. Too many readers follow characters, not creators, to pick up issues on impulse. That’s the reason inelastic pricing exists: maximize the profits generated by series featuring Superman, Batman, and other proven draws, but try to avoid oversaturation of the market for those characters. And those characters sell series without significant marketing expenses. The nature of the market, rather perversely, justifies not trying to market series featuring lower-tier characters: aside from the difficulty of trying to market individual issues of a series, people aren’t likely to respond to the marketing anyway, so the $$$ spent on marketing will be wasted.

    DC Corporate probably regards lower-tier characters as interchangeable products: put out the series, in case something surprising happens, but expect them to fail and cut losses on failures quickly.

    Advertisers don’t buy ad space without a publisher explaining, in some detail, how the ads will benefit an advertiser. If DC could do that, they’d be running more ads. Advertisers choose the media that will get them the biggest responses for the money. The lack of interest from advertisers is probably why DC devotes pages to in-house ads and promos. And from an advertising perspective, a circulation of 25,000-30,000 is pathetic. Cheap local cable TV ads would probably get bigger responses.

    SRS

  59. Torsten Adair says:

    Marvel, DC, and everyone else knows how well digital comics sell at $2, $3.

    The $0.99 price is a special. If that’s the regular price, then how do you do a sale later?

    Vogue could be a free magazine, as the advertising revenue pays for the cost of the magazine. But then it would be considered worthless by readers.

    Comics ads are priced not on a single issue, but on the entire run of what the publisher produces each month. You don’t buy an ad in Superior Amazing-Man, you buy an ad in all Wonder Comics titles. (“If it’s a good comic, it’s a Wonder.”) Look back at Marvel Comics in the 1970s, 1980s. Each issue had the same “Orca” movie ad on the back cover. If you compare issues, they probably had the exact same page layout that month!

    A line like Johnny DC (which DC coupled with Archie, selling ads for both lines) is great, as it has a specific targeted demographic. Advertisers in those titles won’t advertise in the New 52. Small Direct Market sales can be mitigated by increased ad revenue and subscriptions to kids.

    Hey… can we get the Bonfire guys to do a column?

  60. Torsten, a focused ad sales effort can bring innovation. Orca ads were probably adequate when comics were 35 cents on the newsstand, but media, and comics, are different now. The 18- to 35-year old male demographic with disposable income is a highly coveted market – right in comics’ sweet spot.

    Synsidar, it is pretty clear that higher prices equate to fewer readers. A loss of readers may be due to more factors than price, but price does matter. If they can keep costs down through ad revenue, it could only help the bottom line.

    Do digital comics carry ads?

  61. egbert says:

    “I got way too attached to the stuff I loved as a kid and have neglected my responsibilities to live in the present and accept reality as it is.”

    —announcing it on The Beat is a great place to start “accepting reality”!

  62. Some Guy says:

    Running to stand still – as comics readership shrinks, Marvel and DC will have to charge more per comic. I’m surprised both companies make so many comics – they could reduce their line to fewer, higher-quality titles and charge $5.99 and make more money. What Marvel and DC are doing right now is contracting everything that isn’t a big licensed property (X-Men, Avengers, Batman, Superman, etc) so we’ll see fewer titles like Legion of Super-Heroes and so on. But they launch more big-property books, which dilutes the properties, and will ultimately be self-defeating.

    As the industry contracts, I would expect to see fewer comics titles published each month. DC, for example, has launched replacements that are going nowhere (Ravagers, Dial H, and all those) – they’re having trouble finding 52 comics to publish each month. I’m surprised we don’t have the New 25, because if DC published 25 high-quality titles each month, they’d probably have big sales numbers versus right now where a few Superman and Batman titles are subsidizing the lower third of their line.

    What I always do is look at the cancel line – 20k sales – each month on the Diamond top 300 chart, and it rarely budges. It’s always between positions 100-110. So the market is not growing, and DC and Marvel are expending their best ammunition.

  63. johnrobiethecat says:

    The 3.99 price point has been great from my perspective. That’s usually the price of the comics I don’t read and won’t buy. Nothing really merits it. Daredevil was $2.99 when it was a better comic, now its gone downhill and its 3.99. Hawkeye is $2.99 which I didn’t want to read at first for my petty reasons but the 2.99 price made give the Tape issues a try because I liked the art so much. And enjoyed a fun 2 issue story. The big company’s offer no reasoning why some things are $2.99 & others are $3.99. I suppose page count or comic creator importance is their cover. Whats enjoyable is that its finally making the reflexive auto-buyers wake up and realize they are being scammed, even digitally so they are getting more choosy and might be giving the other companies who don’t play the $3.99 game (though many still do) a point if entry. … The greed and exploitation of properties by the Big Two will fold upon themselves by keeping this up. $4.99, $5.99 then the headlines will come…”DC and Marvel will just make movies & trades now, comics businesses run only 6 titles a piece ” I’m still looking forward to the Shield show on free TV where I hope interesting characters show up again, that’s where its going….

  64. Ed Brubaker says:

    As for what the market will bear, DC actually lowered all their $4 books to $3 about six months before the New 52. Their sales didn’t go up on anything. That was “Hold the line at $2.99″ remember? Their sales went up with the reboot because they were 2.99 and new first issues with tons of advertising.

    The 4 dollar price was a 25% increase, and the publishers hoped if they lost readers, it would be like 10 or 15%, but it ended up being a lot more, and it took a line wide reboot to bring some of them back.

  65. “Daredevil was $2.99 when it was a better comic, now its gone downhill and its 3.99.”

    That was only for one issue which contained a backup story. It went back to $2.99 the next issue.

  66. This conversation is somewhat amusing to me. Reason being is that part of the reason DC may be opting to pull all of its titles up to the $4 price break is that that $3.99 pricing is becoming universal in the industry. For example, on this past week’s releases of new titles, on 17 July, of the 11 new titles I reviewed only 1, Watson & Holmes, was listed at $2.99 while Dark Horse offered a new Star Wars title at the $3.50 pricing. The other 9 new titles were all $3.99. DC & Marvel only had one new title while the rest were other publishers. Readership resistance is not the deterrence to pricing upgrades as long as the breach into the $5 book remains sporadic, as with some of the new opening titles such as Superman Unchained. It seems inevitable that page count will fall as a vehicle towards maintaining cost margins while the upper end of cover pricing is discovered to be somewhere in the low end of $4, though I would hope for a return to a $3 book.

  67. Simon Jones says:

    Jessie Post, thank you for your posts. As I said above, I don’t have a very good grasp of the economics of the pricing stategies, so it was very interesting to hear your take.

Speak Your Mind

*