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Priced To Move, One Way Or Another

The last comic show I was at, I was informed in no uncertain terms by an expert that I was undercharging for my comic books, I could easily step up the price and it wouldn't seem the least bit out of place.  According to him, it was one part "indies are expected to cost more" and one part "your stuff is worth it".  I've pointed out here that people will gladly pay more for something that delivers the goods (I would gladly pay double the cover price for a Liberty Meadows book, but I only got a run of one comic series because I found the issues in the dollar box.  The fact that I don't even remember the title anymore shows I was still overcharged), and he felt my stuff did.  So I've been thinking about my price point, and what I should choose relative to The Bigs.

One of the most amazing things for me is that comics from The Bigs were still going for $3 a shot.  That price has held steady a LOT longer than expected as everything from paperback books to magazines went up.  It's the economy.  Shipping prices, paper, ink, everything has gone up, but The Bigs refused to raise their prices for fear of chasing off the fans.  There are only a few exceptions that haven't even toyed with upping their prices.  Spawn, for example, is still $3.  But with the sheer amount of money spent on talent and such, I wasn't sure how long things would last.

Any time a comic company says they are experimenting, they are actually shifting the market.  I remember the indie boom.  Printing comics on newsprint was a huge, time consuming operation.  You can't really print on it, you need printing plates.  This also meant you needed someplace with a printing press that sat idle for long periods of time.  Lots looked to small town newspapers that only came out weekly and assembled the books themselves.  For most people, it just wasn't worth the hassle and had their books printed on Baxter paper.  This also had the advantage of making the books look really nice and some titles, like Ben Edlund's fantastic black and white art for The Tick, making the images really pop.  Marvel decided to "experiment" with whether the fans wanted Baxter paper for their books and were willing to pay the higher price.  So they launched same The X-Men issues twice.  One version was on Baxter paper and cost a dollar more.  The other was regular newsprint at regular price.  Oh, and shipping two weeks later.  It was obvious what would happen -- fans weren't going to wait two weeks to find out what happened, they would pay the higher price to stay on top of things, and newsprint for comics died.

The last few years, comic companies have been afraid of raising the price of comics.  Fans are already griping how expensive they are.  So, some titles got a price increase, but also got back up stories, eight pagers to help make it worthwhile.  This was with the assurance that standard 22 pagers would not see an increase as long as possible.

Well, apparently, the books are selling well enough and no one gives a hoot about the back ups.

DC is making it official.  In August, four standard size titles will jump to $4.  Emerald Warriors  #1, Time Masters  #2, Mighty Crusaders  #2, and American Vampire  #6.  Not that I'm complaining, like I said, I've been expecting prices to go up for a while now, and am shocked it took so long.  I just know fans are going to complain.  They are already saying they aren't getting, as the Clash liked to say, Value For The Money.  Also notice that the lead-off hitters for the new price point are trendy titles but not anything with a movie in development, so if the fans rebel and the series tanks, it doesn't hurt their clout in Hollywood.

Prices are going up, folks.  It's how it goes.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
ozma914
May. 19th, 2010 05:19 am (UTC)
I remember the year when Teen Titans and Legion of Superheroes turned out the "plain" and "extra" issues for a year -- and I was one of the fools who bought both.

I also remember when I bought comics for 35 cents. Ouch.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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