Robot 6

More on Marvel’s price increases

Marvel

Marvel

John Turitzin, Marvel’s general counsel and EVP of the executive office, presented at the Cowen & Company 37th Annual Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in New York last week. You can find a link to his presentation, which includes audio and his slides, here (it was at 1:05 p.m. in Holmes 2; registration is required).

I initially posted a comment from, and a link to, a report on the presentation from someone who was there, but he’s since deleted his report. So I thought I’d revisit the webcast and quote it directly.

During the presentation, Turitzin gave an overview of Marvel — a “cash machine,” he called it — and the various ways it makes money, from publishing and licensing to the more recently added Marvel Studios division. Like I said on Friday, one of the more interesting portions came when a comic fan in the audience asked about recent cost increases on some of Marvel’s more popular titles from $2.99 to $3.99.

“We’re always testing our pricing on our comic books to see to the extent to which it is inelastic, and we can increase our profit in that business,” Turitzin said. He added that different books have different price points, noting the most popular titles saw a price increase, while the lower-selling monthlies, as well as the comics aimed at kids, did not.

“We’re just looking to maximize our profits for that business while not alienating our own fan base by making them feel that they’re gouged, which I hope you don’t feel,” he told the fan.

When asked if Marvel would consider lowering the cover price if revenue started to drop, Turitzin said, “Our goal is to maximize our revenue, and if we’re not maximizing revenue then our pricing is wrong, and we have to take a look at that … so you can hope we see that attrition, and our prices come down.”

Dark Avengers #1

Dark Avengers #1

In regards to the price increase from $2.99 to $3.99, here’s a little history: Earlier this year, Marvel raised the prices on four of its best-selling titles. Dark Avengers actually debuted at the $3.99 price point with its first issue in January, while Hulk followed in February. New Avengers and Thor hit it in March. Jumping ahead to August, if you look through Marvel’s solicitations, there are nine monthly comic titles priced at $3.99 — Ultimate Comics Avengers, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Uncanny X-Men, Dark Avengers, New Avengers, Hulk, X-Men Forever, The Punisher: Frank Castle Max and Wolverine Weapon X. Most, but not all, of their mini-series are also priced at $3.99.

Dan Buckley, Marvel’s president of publishing, addressed the increase at in February at New York Comic Con. When a fan asked why certain books were seeing a price increase, Buckley responded:

Those are hard decisions. We’ve been struggling with pricing for about three to four years. Yes, things have been costing more across the last year — for us also. When you’re looking at the line, you try to see how to keep a bottom line and still give people what they enjoy. There’s only four titles that got moved. We have to look at the stories we put into it and make sure they’ve got the value you guys want. Some things have to carry a lot of the titles that are out there. One of the things
that happens a lot in this industry is usually people drive the price up on books that don’t sell as well, and that often leads to the deaths of those titles very quickly. It’s a balance of economics, of value, of what you guys demand. That’s how we get there. It’s not a straight forward formula, I’m not going to act like it is. We don’t want the whole line at $3.99 because then we’d be down to about forty titles. I wish I could give you a more straight answer but it’s really [complicated].

At the end of March, The New York Times spoke with Buckley about the price issue, and Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada addressed the increases in his Feb. 20 MyCup ‘o Joe. To quote from The Times article:

Mr. Buckley said the company was facing rising costs in everything from travel and entertainment expenses to paper, ink and distribution.

Mr. Buckley felt that, because of comic books’ origin in the world of pulp and disposable entertainment, the effort that goes into their creation is sometimes underestimated.

“Comics are a legit form of entertainment, and there are highly respected and well-paid individuals creating them,” he said. “People have an affinity for nickel and dime comics from the 1940s, but we’re competing with video games, film and television.” He added, “We need to keep the talent on the books to make them work.”

Turitzin was talking to institutional investors, so his message was focused on how profitable Marvel is and how the company tries to maximize revenue. That same message, though, doesn’t stick as well with Marvel’s customers — particularly after we’ve been told prices increases were because of rising costs for talent and other expenses.

“Just had a listen and it seems strange that he says the price rise is to maximise profit, no mention of rising costs as we’ve been told by other parts of Marvel,” said commenter Union Jim in response to my initial post on Friday. “I hope this gets picked up more by the comic press.”

“They openly think that comic fans are so addicted there is absolutely no possibility of enough people dropping the comics at $4 to lose them money on it,” said Somebody in response to that same post. “As a result, they’re pushing it and pushing it to see where the limit is, and will only reconsider if sales drop enough that they’re making less money per issue.

“So, get ready for $5 comics, ’cause here they come …”

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Comments

102 Comments

the freaky tiki

May 31, 2009 at 10:02 pm

Well done.

Well for me the price increased has led me to drop New Avengers and not to pick up Dark Avengers. By not picking up Dark Avengers, I’m dropping Uncanny X-men because of the upcoming crossover. Also many mini’s that I would have in the past picked up, I’m not now due to costing too much. I’ll be trade waiting a lot of them, but even then with the TPBs/HCs going up in price as well, I find my self waiting for them to go down further on the secondary market or find them in half off bins at comic cons.

Yeah, time to wait for trades or read everything online.

the freaky tiki

May 31, 2009 at 10:32 pm

Hysan, you realize that “waiting for the Trade” won’t save you any cash. The prices of trades have gone up the same way.

Interesting stuff. I think I would’ve liked to hear Turitzin talk, sounds like a man who knows his stuff.

I know some people will feel betrayed that they did it for profit, or point out inconsistencies in what Quesada and Buckley said compared to what Turitzin said…but really, ‘maximizing profit,’ as he puts it, is always the reasoning behind virtually everything a business does. Rising costs for paper, ink and talent is just the excuse Marvel has trotted out for every single price raise they’ve done since comics cost a nickel in the 60′s. If 100,000 people are buying a comic at $3 and 80,000 are still buying it at $4, that’s still a successful price raise.

It’s just one of those damned facts of life–things get more expensive. Because comic fans are, to one degree or another, ‘addicted’ to their monthly fix of character adventure, I wouldn’t put it past Marvel or any comic publisher to attempt to at the least, factor that in (how much can we get the buggers to pay?).

The simple fact, though, is that readers will cut back on their comic expenses as prices go up. If they buy 12 books a month, it may come down to 10…or 8-9. Or in my case over the years, and I didn’t even realize it until now, that it has completely erased my interest in ‘casual’ purchases. At $2.99 and parTICularly at $3.99, one isn’t going to pick up a comic book just for fun to see what’s what. Moreover, the secondary market is such that given a few weeks or months, if the collector-brain part of the fanboy can endure it, a complete collection can be maintained for much less money…on eBay or elsewhere for 50¢ to $1 apiece. Fortunately for Marvel or DC and their like, fans are loathe a chance to pass up on a book each month, even if they might get the same book 3-6 months later for substantially less.

For a number of years, I passed on a lot of current comics and picked them up casually…for 50¢…25¢ whatever and managed to keep up with the characters I enjoyed. Now? Fan as much as I am, reading a DC or a Marvel comic book is really, really a horrific experience. Just…most of it is such crap, despite the pretty pictures. I buy very little these days.

Just dropped Punisher MAX. Wolverine: Weapon X is probably a goner after the opening arc. I mean, really — cancer darts? Don’t read Hulk, Ultimate Spider-Man or Uncanny, but my love of the other books, my faith in X-Men Forever and my rampant Avengers obsession of 15 years has kind of boned me in this department. Sigh. IOh, and I’m just too jazzed for the return of Incredible Hulk sometimes to notice the 4 dollar price tag. When I see it, I get sad.

I think DC Doing the right job with the price going up. On all the comics at 3.99, you get more story. While with Marvel, you get the same amount of story at 32 pages a book. After June, i’ll be buying more DC then Marvel.

yeah Dan, the back up features in the upcoming DC books really takes the sting out of the price increase for me.

Dan, Marvel’s starting that initiative too, with books like Incredible Hulk having back-ups (Savage She-Hulk, in that book’s case). I wouldn’t be too surprised if New Avengers got a Hood back-up before too long, and Dark Avengers got…something.

Bussy Altornado

May 31, 2009 at 11:00 pm

Paraphrase: We’ll jack up the prices until you won’t take it anymore (which you will) because we’re a corporation and our bottom line is the bottom line. Therefore, in summation, suck it.

More or less, Bussy.

Well, there’s a lot of either A) spreading the blame or B) finger-pointing going on here. It’s basic business that a company is trying to maximize its profits. But I find it very interesting that other company higher-ups are putting the blame on creators.

So is this basically Bendis’ fault? I mean, he has an exclusive contract with Marvel, writes the backbone of the current Marvel U, and it’s basically his books that have the $3.99 price tags. Sure there are a couple other “superstars” who have signed these exclusive contracts that probably cost phenomenal amounts of money, but who is the money-making trendsetter here who has forced the company to “keep his talent” at their house? How much of this is ego for money for talent for contracts equals $4 books by only very certain writers?

Any thoughts or information?

If it’s all creator ego — which much of it surely is — books like Punisher MAX, Wolverine: Weapon X and Thor shouldn’t cost four bucks a pop. P-MAX doesn’t even have a stable creative team, and JMS and Jason Aaron aren’t Marvel exclusive.

Bendis probably has a lot to do with this, as does Loeb.

Of course Option 3 is just to buy all these titles at $1.00 each when they show up in the bargain bins at conventions by shop owners whose customers dropped the titles…

You do realize Freaky Tiki that by waiting for the trade the cost is much less than single issues. All you have to do is go to Amazon.com or instocktrades.com. Often you can get a trade for 15 bucks. If its a little older than you can often find them for 5 dollars or less.

it’s not an issue of marvel “thinking” fans are so addicted that they won’t drop the books. they KNOW fans are that addicted.

i can’t think of another industry that’s so heavily supported by people who don’t enjoy the product they’re buying (and in many cases don’t even READ the product anymore, but buy it out of habit). i used to be a serious comic addict, so i understand.

comic fans are going to kill this industry with their buying habits. who could blame marvel for these price hikes? vote with your wallets, people.

on the one hand, it’s upsetting that it’s the more popular titles that get the price hike because it feels like “hey, thanks for making these books such huge successes…now give us more money,” but at the same time i think the opposite tactic of making lesser tiered books more expensive would feel like they’re penalizing an audience for more cult books and we’d see a lot more quality books that only have a niche audience dying off. so there’s no good answer here. i’m still buying monthlies right now since it’s only affecting a few titles i collect…but i imagine by the end of the year, i’ll have switched entirely to trades. i know there won’t be much price difference long term, but buying it in a higher end and more durable format will make the extra dollars spent feel like they’re at least going toward something, rather than paying more for something that feels as flimsy and disposable as a monthly issue.

In the past struggling books have seen price increases to suport them. The result of course was rather than buying time for finding an audience, the books sold even less at the highger prices and went away.

I always thought it made more sense to raise the price on the “no-Brainer” books that were going to sell no matter what (X-Men, Batman etc…) to help support the lesser books. Seems they may have finally caught on.

I dont mind DC’s price hike…I’m getting more content. Marvel’s a wait and see.

Unfortunately, as some other posters have pointed out, the price of Marvel’s trades is starting to rise dramatically as well. I’m horrified when I go through the Previews these days and struggle to find anything that costs the same as, let alone less than, the price of the original monthlies. Having only just fallen in love with the whole trade & HC concept after rejecting it for many years, it’s a real bummer.

If shit like Loebs Rulk was four or five dollars and as a result something like Captain Britain and MI-13 could stay at any price I would be fine with that.

You people need to have the balls to “break a run” and vote with your wallets when something is shit, Comic fans are the whiniest pathetic people on earth.

“I should know, we can smell our own”

While I also feel frustrated by the $3.99 price point for 32 pages, there is more to this than meets the idea. Unfortunately, the underlying issues never get discussed in news articles like this one or blogs and consequently, fans get more outraged than is appropriate.

First of all, Turitzin is being very candid when he says that they are trying to increase their profits. That is their responsibility to their stockholders. It also their customer’s responsibility to not purchase products that they feel are overpriced and do not offer value. If sales do not drop, then Marvel is doing the right thing by raising prices.

I also believe Buckley when he says Marvel “was facing rising costs in everything from travel and entertainment (which can easily be cut by the way) to paper, ink and distribution”. In my own business raw material costs and transportation have increased substantially in the past year. Enough so that it significantly reduces our profit margin without either an increase in prices or volume. Yes, everyone has heard about rising costs before. That is because inflation has been a constant.

The important story lies in the underlying problems, which never seem to be discussed either in this forum or elsewhere. Anyone who takes a look at sales figures will notice that a substantial number of comics only sell 10,000-20,000 copies per issue and some are down as low as 5,000 copies. Just recently the industry experienced its first month in heaven knows how long in which no title broke 100,000 copies. The days of the 300,000-350,000 copy circulation are long gone.

The real problem is economies of scale. Once you subtract out Diamond Distribution’s and the retailer’s share of the cover price, the reality is that Marvel and DC lose money on their lowest selling titles. Keep in mind that 40 years ago most artists turned out 4-5 titles per month. However, fans now expect better, more detailed art and many artists spend a month creating one issue but still need to make an adequate income to support their families. Additionally, the lower the print run, the higher the printing cost per unit becomes. Realistically the publisher’s share of a 5,000 copy print run at $2.99 may barely cover printing costs if that.

The apparent answer is to cancel the titles that lose money, which is probably better than half their portfolio of titles. As Buckley said, “people drive up the books that don’t sell as well, and that often leads to the death of those titles”. But there are two problems with that: Both Marvel and DC are aware that there is a limited amount of space on most racks. It is my opinion that both publishers still labor under the philosophy that by releasing a considerably number of titles they are helping to keep competition off the stands. But even more significantly, the most significant source of revenue for every publisher is advertising and ads rates are based on circulation. For that reason ads are sold for the entire portfolio or, at the very least, a grouping of titles within their portfolio. No publisher will sell an ad for just one title such as JLA or Spider-Man. If they did, it is likely that is the only ad they would sell and the space would sell for a reduced price due to the lower circulation. If a publisher were to cut the number of titles they release each month, ads revenues would drop accordingly. So it is necessary for the best selling titles to pay for the losses on the poorer selling titles.

It should also be noted that because of this, the same dollar volume in trades will never be as profitable as the periodical magazine format. No one has been able to introduce ads into book publishing. Thus there is a symbiotic relationship between the magazines and the trades. Even though more and more fans are waiting for the trade, the trade cannot exist without the magazine publication.

As Buckley said, “it’s really complicated.”

Comments like Hysan’s about reading comics online are particularly short-sighted because there is no way that he can read new material online if no new material is created. And new material can only exist if someone is paid to create it. I came across some recent research that shows that significant price resistance occurs if more then .99 is charged for an online comic and most fans prefer having access to the entire line of issues for a low monthly fee. And even though online advertising is very inexpensive, many advertisers are finding that effectiveness is declining, giving rise to the industry term “banner blindness”. Very few people have been able to find a successful model for online only publishing.

One has to look no further than the newspaper industry to find examples of publishers whose print business is subsidizing the content they are giving away for free online even though they are losing money. Recently the daily Rocky Mountain News in Denver, Colorado was shut down by Scripps-Howard due to unsustainable losses. When this happened a number of employees announced that they were going to publish a subscription-based online only newspaper. They could not even get close to the number of subscribers necessary to break even. It is unlikely that online publishing exclusively will pay enough to keep any comic publishers in business.

Yes, get ready for $5 comics. As much as I dislike the $3.99/32 page format (which is almost as much as I dislike the $2.99/32 page format!), I actually would be delighted to see the industry try a $6.00 or $7.00 format. It is time for everyone to quit whining about price point and start considering value. Most magazines are priced at $6-$7 and feature 96 or more pages for that price. I would much more enjoy reading a 40-50 page story along with another 20 page complete short and perhaps a 20 page continued story for double the price we are paying now. And this would format would still allow room for increased advertising.

It is time for everyone to stop stereotyping comics as “floppies” or “pamphlets”, start thinking of them as the periodical magazines they really are and offer true value.

I bucked the trend on my $4 Marvels by subscribing right from the company. I found that I was able to save around 45-60% off cover price by doing so (here’s a hint: subscribe to one title, then wait for a “subscriber’s only” deal to arrive in the mail; you’ll get things even cheaper. Also, if you have the disposable income, consider renewing your subscription soon after getting your first issue. I locked prices in for three years on titles I was going to likely get regardless by doing this.) Magazine companies provide deep discounts for subscribers, so it only makes sense that comic periodicals will do the same.

In the long run, I can’t see how comics will survive in their current format. I think (hope) that comic publishers realize this. Spider-Man’s thrice monthly publishing scheduled is a test, in part, to see if readers would embrace more material during a month; they are one step away from turning a three-a-month 32 page comic into a monthly 96 book (hopefully for less money.) DC’s “backup” features are another test at an extended format. My hope is that, when/if publishers move to 96 page periodicals, that they will pair titles that make sense. New Avengers/Mighty Avengers/Dark Avengers in one book make sense; New Avengers/Moon Knight/Nova together makes no sense, no matter how good the individual titles are or how the company tries to justify it. Zuda comics and Marvel’s digital library is a test in distribution and format. Trades will continue to be in the mix somewhere, probably still as a secondary market getting its material elsewhere. Comics will change….we’ll see how much we can change with it.

I don’t know why some posters are agreeing that the increasing the price point is just good business.

If you use the simplified example of selling 80,000 copies of Dark Avengers at $3.99 is better selling 100,000 copies at $2.99. Revenue is up but you’ve just lost 20,000 readers. Obviously, it is not as simple as this but the principle is there.

With every price rise comic books (Marvel for the purposes of this argument) become less attractive to new readers. People who come out of the new Wolverine movie are going to go into a comic shop with the idea of picking up a Wolverine comic for maybe about $2. The shop keeper will recommend the new Weapon X series, they’ll see the $4 price tag and probably not come back again. Again this is an over simplification and anecdotal but it is happening.

It’s not good business, its short-sighted but maybe not that suprising..

p.s. These Executive’s comments are likely to be driven by the increasing realisation that the enterntainment arm of Marvel is now the main money maker and the publishing arm is just an extra revenue stream. This again is short-sighted as we know that the publishing arm is the creative base from which all of Marvel movies and cartoons come from.

I honestly don’t know why they don’t downgrade the paper a bit. Speaking as a long-time comic collector, I’m okay with paper not as thick and not as glossy. Several comics have been read that didn’t have such a treatment and I’m sure still would be these days. With our economy fluctuating so much, and many people still looking for regular work, it’d be nice to see comics try an maintain a pricing stance rather than to raise up even further. I hate to say it, but as much as I love comics, if the prices hike even further, I may be either switching to trades or finding some good webcomics to read …

Like someone in the article said, Marvel thinks we are addicted, and they might be right. While I have dropped Dark Avengers as it is not very good, Im still buying a lot of other titles with a $3.99 price tag. Just cant help it. I need to have them!?!

http://hexsfifthcolumn.blogspot.com/

This week I cancelled both Avenger titles and I’ll be cancelling Thor. $3.99 for a single issue is my breaking point.

Marvel have also pi$$ed me off by changing their HC releases. Over the last 12 months or so thy have been releasing HC’s in 6 issues runs then in a 12 issue runs in an oversize ed. Effectively releasing the same story in three different HC formats. Seems like they are double dipping and ripping off fans.

Unfortunately time are tough all round….I’d rather buy more books from DC.

If you don’t like the prices, show your dislike in the best way possible: don’t buy what they are selling. OR you could take advantage of the offers out there for good discounts. I already get from 35 to 40 percent off on my monthly stash. I also decided to cut out the stuff that doesn’t add to the big picture, like most Marvel minis.

Sad to say, I don’t buy as much as I want to. The books are really high-priced. I don’t know why some of the posters or even the Marvel Execs mentioned the advertising revenue they get from books.

I only buy 3 titles a month. Most of the stuff, I just download on-line.

Christian Otholm

June 1, 2009 at 4:35 am

I honestly don’t care, but that’s because I’m not American and living in a country where the valuta is substancially stronger. For the price of one pizza I could get about three $3.99 comics.

I am however a little sad, that the publishers are claiming that the money is going to printing and the creators, when I don’t have the impression that the creators are getting high page rates lately. So it just comes off as a little disingenuous.

PS. Jason Aaron is Marvel Exclusive. He just has a clause in his contract that permits him to do Scalped.

“I only buy 3 titles a month. Most of the stuff, I just download on-line.”

I buy the lower selling books (Agents of Atlas, Incredible Hercules, etc.) and download the higher selling books (New Avengers, Hulk, Dark Avengers etc.) . I also buy the trades for series that I really like (e.g. Agents of Atlas).

The Avengers books are readable but not worth my money and Hulk sucks, but in an entertaining way.

-D. Crypt

I removed all Marvel titles two months ago because of this. I had to make cuts anyway because a new baby and the price increase made my choices easy. Instead of cherry-picking what I was going to buy I just drop marvel as a whole. If you buy the trades at Amazon’ discount prices you do save vs. the actual comics. The way I see it I am doing a favor to all Marvel readers. They will decrease price if sales drop to a point where it is not profitable to sell it at the current price. I am making my small contribution to make that happen.

Ninjagodzilla

June 1, 2009 at 5:26 am

does this remind anyone of cds and the record industry?

the freaky tiki

June 1, 2009 at 6:00 am

I applaud JK Parkin for some honest to goodness REAL COMIC journalism! Dig deeper ! ;)

the Tiki

Tony,

Does this article makes anyone else want to stop buying Marvel comics and start buying Marvel stock. It is a cash cow you hear me, A CASH COW!!!!!

Seriously though comics are one of the most expensive dollars per hour of entertainment hobbies out there (not counting re-reading)

4 $3.99 comics in one hour -16 dollars an hour.
$10 for a two hour movie- 5 dollars an hour.
$7 for a paperback book you read in 7 hours- 1 dollar an hour.
$33.00 for a 22 episode dvd tv season totaling(45 min per episode) 16 and a half hour- 2 dollar an hour
$50 dollars for a video game you play for 25 hours-2 dollars an hour

The last two have energy cost associated to them also. Some people would say they prefer to pay 4 dollars for 15 minutes of a good comic than $10 for two hours watching a crappy movie and I am with them. The example I am trying to make is assuming you everything is good.

On a side note this does remind me of the music industry Ninja Godzilla. Does that mean that digital distribution is the next thing. Marvel has some but I do not like reading on a screen. My eyes get watery and my head hurts after a 2 comics.

Would you read comics on a Kindle like device? In color and having creators stop doing two page splash art.

I used to buy a lot of Marvel books, but in the last few months that has been cut down to 2-5 books a week or sometimes nothing at all…mainly due to the price increase…to me, many of their books aren’t worth to shell out $3.99 for…its just ridiculous.

Waiting for the trades WILL save you money if you buy them on-line from Amazon. They always sell them for a couple bucks cheaper than retail and you get free shipping if you spend $25 or more on an order. But then I guess you have to weigh it against whatever new comic discount your local shop has. But sometimes it’s nicer to have the trade anyway since you don’t have the ads interupting the story and you get the whole thing at once.

I’ve dropped 4 books to keep up with the price increases since I read most of the 9 books that will be $4 by August. But I may end up dropping more as a result. The thing that bugs me is that I won’t really be actively protesting the books with the price increase since most of them are favorites so I’m dropping less interesting $3 books as a result.

the freaky tiki

June 1, 2009 at 6:17 am

The catch 22 of the “wait for the trade” scenario is that if the book is popular enough in monthlies… they won’t bother to invest in the cost of making a trade. Apparently it didn’t tickle people’s totem the first time around, why gamble with it again?

the Tiki

Nick,

That is Marvel’s prefer outcome. By dropping the cheaper (less expensive) books and buying the expensive ones you are probably spending the same amount of money you were before but for less books. If Marvel cancel those books you (and most people because) won’t buy anymore they are cutting production costs (paper creators, etc) and getting the same amount of money from all of you.

I will tell you what the price increase has done…forced me to go digital. After trying out the DVD’s Marvel put out I started poking around the net and guess what no digital monthly download service other than what some term “illegal”. I make a donation to whatever site if it has that option and still buy paper copies of the independent books I like but Marvel and DC get zero dollars from me and will continue to until they provide an outlet for digital buyers who do not have the space to buy their product and should not be factored into increasing paper, ink, and distribution costs. I am all for paying creators but it doesn’t seem that Marvel or DC is…in fact they have said as much…I believe a direct quote goes something like: “Figuring out royalties would be too much of a headache”.

Christian Otholm

June 1, 2009 at 6:33 am

“4 $3.99 comics in one hour -16 dollars an hour.
$10 for a two hour movie- 5 dollars an hour.
$7 for a paperback book you read in 7 hours- 1 dollar an hour.
$33.00 for a 22 episode dvd tv season totaling(45 min per episode) 16 and a half hour- 2 dollar an hour
$50 dollars for a video game you play for 25 hours-2 dollars an hour”

That analogue doesn’t completely work, because unlike going to the theatre, you can’t see the same film twice for no extra charge. The videogame’s core is repetitive actions, which albeit entertaining, are just that. Repetitive. So if you read the same sequence in a comic multiple times you’d reach the same result.

Ultimately, I wouldn’t judge a piece of entertainment for how long it occupies me, as to how good I think it is. By that reasoning, a Stephanie Meyers book is better than most Shakespeare, because it’s longer.

The Music Industry analogue doesn’t work either, because A. It’s not a niche market like comics and has a far larger audience, B. there is no difference between listening to a high-quality digital version of a CD. There is if you’re reading a comic. The experience changes.

Roquefort Raider

June 1, 2009 at 6:43 am

It’s refreshing to hear someone in charge flatly saying that Marvel is there to make money. Such honesty is appreciated.

Marvel is probably right in calculating that the price increase will not be offset by the loss of too many readers, so it’s probably a good move in the short term. What it will mean in terms of not alienating new readers, though, is something we won’t know for a few years. Personally, I suspect that at such prices there will be fewer and fewer readers interested in following faithfully the unending adventures of the Marvel characters, and that business will shift toward story arcs that tell a complete story. The floppy may go the way of the arcade game.

Marvel might also want to pursue another strategy, though : since it already has many different lines of comics, it could try to produce a really inexpensive one (going back to its roots, as it were). Same creators, but with cheaper paper and printing process (if that is still possible). It’s been said that comics have to compete with video games, which is true, but if they were made inexpensive enough they could be seen as a complementary form of entertainment. Only if they represent a sizable percentage of the customer’s disposable income must they be seen as a competitor. People would have to cough up 40 bucks for a game will probably think twice about buying three 5 buck comics on top of it, but may do so for $1.99 each.

I’ve no idea if such a line would be successful enough to warrant a continued existence, but I know that what I buy most from Marvel nowadays is the Essential volumes. Low quality as far as printing is concerned, but great stories.

As a good capitalist, Marvel is doing the right thing.

I, by dropping books, am also doing the right thing.

Marvel is sending us the message: we need/want more money. I am sending them the message: search for it somewhere else. I no longer buy Marvel books at more than $3.

If they lower their prices back down to 2.99 or give me more content at 3.50 or 3.99, I will promptly reconsider.

If you don’t like the prices – don’t buy the comic. Its that simple. No one is entitled to a comic book or entitled to a certain price point. As of right now I’ve got more pressing places where my money is needed.

In the UK you get the Panini reprints. 3 issues in one comic for £2.50. Good value considering the originals would now cost over £6.

I’m not quite sure why this explanation bothers people. Strictly speaking, they are both the same explanation. That is, if the cost of ink, talent, paper, etc. has increased, then their profits have decreased, so they need to maximize their profits. They could be maximizing their profits and still be making a lower profit percentage (or a lower profit, for that matter) than they did before.

All publishing houses, except for, maybe, a few indie ones are about making money. Sure, they are proud of the product they are putting out, but the bottom line is the money made by the company. Its unreasonable for us to expect Marvel to not maximize their profits; simply making a profit is not satisfactory, and when their operating costs go up, it is logical that they will try to maximize profit.

It seems to me that there really is no difference here. Its just a different, more money-oriented way of saying that profits were decreasing so prices were raised as much as they could to still be competitive in the market and allow for a good profit.

As it was back in the 90′s, the price increase was one of the reasons why I dropped comics all together. Their reasons back then for the continuing price increase was the cost of paper, etc. As you may know, the paper they were using in the early 90′s and before is not the same paper they use now. I just assume they go back to the original paper they were using since comic books first started. If the cost of paper is an issue. personally I don’t care for the glossy paper they use now. It no longer has that comic book feel as it did when I was a kid.. Anyway as for this current diabocle, the only title I collect is Captain America and if they increase the price on that title, I’m thru with Marvel. I did it before and I will do it again and I this time, I won’t look back. Make mine DC!

on the other end of the spectrum, the price increase made me feel really good about my decision to go all-subscription with the monthly marvel titles i collect. bottom line, i pay $1.67 per issue for my subscriptions. that’s a $1.32 savings on $2.99. i thought that was rather good. now i’m saving $2.32 per issue! a pleasant side-effect is that it also gave me the opportunity to check out some smaller-press titles that i wouldn’t necessarily have had the means to had i been buying everything in-store. i’m not necessarily saving as much per month as i could (though i think i’m saving a bit) but getting more for my money per month.

that said, i’ve cut out some minis that i was on the fence about because they came out at the $3.99 price point. i’m most incensed, however, that it jumped an entire dollar as opposed to at least $0.50 like some other books (savage dragon, superpowers, atomic robo). i mean, when it increased rom $1.95/$1.99 we at least got $2.25 and $2.50… but a whole dollar? upsetting…

This is utter nonsense. All of these suposed $4 titles are still under $2.

Just subscribe you boneheads. Marvel offers subscriptions to all those titles for under $20. I went with a bundle and have twelve issues of Wolverine Wepon X coming to me for only $17.

Just cut out the middle man.

I only use my LCS for mini series and non Marvel titles.

I understand that Marvel is a business, but what about the consumer?

If you look at another industry, I see none comparable to the comic book one. As much as Marvel makes it sound, comics are not big business. Properties make money, not the comics. With that in mind, you can see that the comic industry is small when compared to other industries making it important on the part of the consumer. This is an industry where your “wallet vote” matters great. Each and every purchase you make makes a significant impact.

When reading this, they only thing in my mind was “I hope people may finally wake up and stop playing the game that is being hosted.” If you are not enjoying something as a consumer, stop buying it and fueling the fire. Get over the continuity, and the universe, and the hole in your collection. Don’t allow yourself to be constantly sold on a faulty product. I don’t want to come off as some “punk revolutionist”, but I just want people to wake up finally. If something makes you upset, stand up for yourself and voice it. By voicing it, I mean don’t buy it. Don’t give away your money. Don’t send the wrong message.

I just want to see people stand up and call out what they feel as wrong. I don’t want to see fans destroy the business. We, as consumers, need to make the suits cater to us rather than us catering to them.

Why can’t we organize? Why can’t we rise against? I don’t see what is stopping us other than the needs of collections and continuity.

To truly make an impact we need not only drop a book, but replace it with something else and force to the Big 2 to see they have competition. Make your votes count. Make your money matter. YOU as a consumer should be the one to make the suit work to win you over rather than allowing the control of an addiction.

Let’s get a grip guys and show them we have other options.

For those that do not know, Marvel does not issue dividends to stock holders. So in reality any extra money that is being made is being kept within the company. So while Marvel does owe it to its stockholders to continue performing well in order to keep the stock price at a given point, it does not necessarily need to gouge its customer base in order to maximize revenue. Eventually, this market practice will drive down the stock value due to loss of base customers.

So subscriptions are immune from the price increase littleredhat? Come on, get a clue. An increase wheather thru subscriptions or not is still an increase.

Keep in mind, as seen with the economic fiasco the country is currently in, people with business degrees are dumb as ***k. By shrinking their readership base, Marvel is guaranteeing their eventual demise. As some said in this forum, their publishing division is where Marvel gets their material for their movie division. Eventually, Marvel will have to start behaving like that lobotomized whale, Tom Rothman, and continually cannibalize their existing movie franchises with “remakes”, “reboots” and “retconns”.

It’s ironic but Marvel’s movie success is going to be its ultimate downfall.

It’s Demonoid and Isohunt all the way, baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My pull list at my LCBS gets shorter and shorter, but that has much more to do with what is between the covers than the price on the cover.

Currently I’m reading and enjoying Thor, so I was willing to pay the increased price and will continue to be willing to pay so as long as the creators keep me interested. Other than Thor, I’m not paying $3.99 for any books from Marvel or DC, but then again I’m not paying $2.99 for many books from Marvel or DC as I’m only reading Agents of Atlas and Power Girl from them, respectively.

Sure I’d like to pay less, but as long as I feel that I’m getting value for my money, and I feel I do get value for my money for the above books and for the $3.50 I pay for The Perhapanauts, Atomic Robo and Incognito, I’ll keep putting my money down.

It should because be pointed out that in most cases unless if you have an exclusive contract with Marvel as a freelancer you don’t get health insurance. There are people who work in the production department of Marvel who are listed as freelancers for this exact same reason.

If the cost of putting out the books were as much of an issue as they claim, they would have begun making changes, such as paper quality. They would also stop flooding the racks with variant covers (Wolverine month?!?) that I don’t see anyone buying. This was part of the big crash of the 90′s, and yet they are right back at the same game. I do think there have been some increases to the overall production process, but they are passing on the cost to us directly by raising the prices and to freelance with lower page rates. The thing is that they are also using the opportunity to increase their overall profits. At the very least they could make concessions for us in terms of output and quality. I see no mention of the fact that if books are going to be 4 bucks a pop that they will at the very least guarantee that it will come out on a monthly basis, instead of whenever they get around to finishing it.

Oh and they are never going to drop the price of these books. Here in NY there was a big fight between the Broadway Theatres and the Stagehand Unions. The League of Theatres was telling everyone the outrageous things that had come out of the prior contract such as Union forced minimum number of workers per show and paying guys $40 an hour to sweep the stage. They claimed that this was the reason that ticket prices were so high. When the strike was settled and everyone got what they wanted, the ticket price never went down. In some cases they even went up higher.

Business is business, that said, I have dropped all titles at 3.99. I will go to cons and bargain bins on anything over three bucks.

As for subscribing, I would love to, but my conscience tells me to help out my LCS. They’ve been good to me for all these years and they’re the ones that are going to suffer. I wonder if Marvel will ultimately forego the LCS and pull it all in house? Then they could raise the costs of book back to 3 bucks and make a killing.

Just a thought.

This is such BS. It’s corporate greed at its finest. I work in the publishing industry and know exactly how the industry works.

A) Reduce the quality of paper (Northlanders at DC is a great example of a lower-quality paper still doing the job) — This saves money to produce the comics.
B) Cover stock. Same principal. Use a lower-grade paper for cover. What does this do? Cheaper paper costs less.
C) Pay cuts for writers/artists — Why the hell not? The rest of corporate America is cutting back. But not Marvel? They increase the cost by a $1.00 during what of the bleakest economic times in history? Brilliant move.
D) Renegotiate with your printer vendors (either Quebecor World or Donnelley) or take your business elsewhere. Get a better deal somewhere else.
E) Stop buying the “crack” folks. Drop the $3.99 titles. Are you really getting the value of your hard earned money from any of the $3.99 books. Or better yet, buy more DC, Image or Dark Horse. Think about it.

I stopped all my $3.99 comics from Marvel. On two principals. One, I can’t afford it any more. Two, it’s so not worth it anymore. Speak up folks. Because, you can be damn sure $4.50 — $4.99 is next. Where does it stop?

With our wallets.

Just my thoughts.

Well, looks like I’ll finally be dropping Ultimate Spider-Man. Good run while it lasted.

@ hobgoblin238 http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2009/05/more-on-marvels-price-increases/comment-page-1/#comment-10658

the price for a new subscription went up one whole dollar when each issue went up a dollar individually. yes, relatively immune. re-subscribing hasn’t gone up at all. completely immune.

It’s interesting that people mention downloading comics illegally in the face of price jacks. It makes sense when you think about how Marvel is sort of backing us against a wall, saying “we are going to increase the price on Dark Avengers, New Avengers, and others, but we’re gonna give you stories that are at the center of the marvel U.” Basically saying we can’t miss these issues without falling behind on events like Dark Reign. Unfortunately both of these titles, while more expensive, aren’t very awesome. Billy Tan’s art on NA isn’t great, and DA wasted 4 issues on a pointless story having nothing to do with anything. Additionally, the paper is still just as cheap and it feels like the ads are the same in number. We should see a better paper stock and less ads if we are paying more. With the consistently not-high quality, I start to ask if I really care that much about these characters to pay more. Ultimately, a lot of us realize we want to stay current on MU characters but don’t feel that the price is worth it. Suddenly downloading it becomes an easy alternative, although highly destructive to the industry. Marvel, if you’re gonna charge an extra dollar, make sure the book is amazing and worth it, like Thor.

I dropped all of Marvel’s $3.99 titles when the price hike first hit. I could’ve understood and handled a gradual price increase- $2.99 – $3.25 or $3.50, maybe. But a $1.00 increase on books like Avengers and Hulk is completely unjustified. Marvel is making money hand over fist on licensing and movies – revenue they didn’t have a decade ago because these other streams didn’t yet exist. Yet now, they’re expecting the very consumers that embraced these properties first to absorb a massive price increase for the same (if not lesser) product.

I used to buy 15 Marvel titles a month – now, I’m reading Amazing Spider-Man only if I like the storyarc, writer and artists involved.

I stopped following titles ages ago (with the exception of Hellblazer.) I now only buy books with creators I like. However these high price points are even making me think, “Do I really like that creator?” Like I have been a big Immomen fan for abour 5 years, but the price point on New Avengers means I will not be picking up that book. Or a book like Destroyer by Kirkman & Walker, I am waiting for the trade which will be $10-15 on Amazon instead of $20 in issues. Another book is hulk, I enjoy McGuinness and have bought the fill in artist issues so far, but Churchill doesn’t rate high on my list so I will probably pass on issue #14.
I guess I should be looking on the Bright side if I buy less Marvel books I can try out more Independent work, and since I will not be reading so many titles I will have more time to surfer the web and look for up and coming creators. Thanx Marvel

Brian P, early in the thread, said comics cost a nickel in the 60s.

Sorry, Brian, not true.

M.J. Holmes I agree with everything except the paycuts. These are the people that are actually doing the work to get us the comics we love. Plus the life of a freelancer is hard enough. The ones that should get the paycuts (and I KNOW this is never going to happen) are the corporate people. Companies love to tell us how salary is their biggest operating expense but never tell you that the executives make up most of that money. I’m pretty sure that the salaries of Quesada, Buckley and Turitzin would cover the art teams for about ten books!

Jose — Agreed. Joe Q. take a pay cut, please. The talent deserves to make more. They make the books what they are, some good, some not so good, and will never get paid their just dues.

A post made by
Rich @
June 1, 2009 at 2:41 am

Is just completely wrong.

“…Marvel “was facing rising costs in everything from travel and entertainment… ”

Marvel has no travel and entertainment costs. Everything they spend gets written off in accounting moves. That’s the way of corporations.

“Once you subtract out Diamond Distribution’s and the retailer’s share of the cover price, the reality is that Marvel and DC lose money on their lowest selling titles.”

The old, “We lose money on individual sales, but make it up on volume” dodge. The percentage that Marvel makes on a comic is essentially the same as it was a decade ago. As prices have gone up, so has the amount that Marvel makes on an issue.

“Keep in mind that 40 years ago most artists turned out 4-5 titles per month.”

No, they didn’t. A small number of artists may have been able to put out numerous books a month, but most were only doing 1, maybe 2.

“…the same dollar volume in trades will never be as profitable as the periodical magazine format….”

But it must be, or they wouldn’t be selling so many trades. This statement just doesn;t hold logical sense.

I could go on, but I don’t have the time, and CBR doesn’t have the space.

Sorry, Rich, your whole post is made of EPIC FAIL.

I’ve been a die-hard comic fan from the early 70′s and this is exactly how I was driven away from fandom.

Fuck modern day Marvel. Fuck them in the ass.

They drive up price points and have run younger fans out of the market because they are greedy fucktards. I hate them.

What incentive does Marvel ever have of lowering its prices? People will still buy the darn things at $4.99. In fact, my comic shop had its best month in years just after Marvel raised its prices.

If I were Marvel, I would keep raising prices. You can call it corporate greed or whatever. It is the same thing that you or I would do if you had a product that people wanted.

Comic Books are not a charity. They are here to make money by telling a good story. Why does anyone think that Marvel is here to go easy on the fans? They should get as much money out of you as possible so that they can keep Bendis fat and happy churning out compelling stories.

Rich said…
“…new material can only exist if someone is paid to create it.”

Does he have any idea how may people would work for FREE if given the chance to draw a Marvel comic?

And quite frankly, how many experienced (older) artists, who CAN meet deadlines AND work for a less exorbitant page rate, AREN’T working because companies are busy promoting overpaid “artistes” who can’t get a book out on time OR tell stories coherently, but do GREAT pin-up pages?

@ MJ Holmes: You can’t cut the pay for writers/artists. Particularly for writers, but probably for artists too. Work outside the industry pays so much more (which is why while I’m angry McDuffie was taken off JLA, I realize he hasn’t really lost all that much of his income), you can’t just screw with them like that and not expect one of the following:

A.) The GOOD writers/artists to quit and seek work in animation or movies. I don’t want would-be fanfic writers working on my comics.

B.) Everyone to stay but take up numerous other jobs and be too busy to give the same quality of work.

And even if you cut those guys, are you going to cut the pay for the inkers, colorists, letterers, editors…? It takes a LOT of people to put together these funnybooks month in and month out and pretty much all of them are indispensable.

That said. Some of the upper level corporate guys that aren’t even sitting in on the idea sessions that are at the very formation of a book…well.

As far as this…I won’t pay $4 for a comic, but then I can always use DCBS or ebay.

$2.99 per issue was the limit for me. My monthly Marvel books now consist only of Thor, Nova, and Guardians of the Galaxy. Ultimately, they’re just saving me money in the long run, so raise those prices as high as you like, Marvel guys. Soon, I’ll be Marvel Free.

Julián Téllez

June 1, 2009 at 12:15 pm

15 years ago i was buying 30 to 40 comics a month (almost all the marvel comics line), 10 years ago i was buying 10 to 15 titles a month (the whole xmen universe plus miniseries and the avengers book), 5 years ago i was buying 10 titles a month (5 xmen, 2 avengers, planetary, ultimates, and miniseries) 1 year ago i cut it to5 titles a month, this year i drop both avengers, xforce, xfactor and dthe minseries, i only buy uncanny legacy and astonishing, mostly because of nostalgy.

coming this august i will cancel my suscription.

i only will read digital comics, eventually, because many of the titles i used to like feels empty and i wont pay for that kind of comics

Christian Otholm

June 1, 2009 at 12:22 pm

“C) Pay cuts for writers/artists — Why the hell not? The rest of corporate America is cutting back. But not Marvel? They increase the cost by a $1.00 during what of the bleakest economic times in history? Brilliant move.”

That is sheer lunacy. Freelancer artists make absolute shit compared to the work and time they have to put in.

And people advocating stealing? You fucking suck. You are contributing to the increase in prices, you are killing a niche market that are dependent on a limited audience and you are directly hurting the people creating those stories. This isn’t the music industry. It’s the creators not the businessmen you are harming by stealing, the market is infinitesimally smaller and comics are far more expensive to distribute than music.

Of course what the industry really needs is cheaper paper (paper is one of the commodities that have risen most in price over the last 100 years), cheaper printing and a better distribution model, so that it can reach more than the niche market.

Anyone remember books being increased by, say, 25 cents or 50 cents rather than a dollar? That is basically a 25% increase in price! Craziness!

But here is how I have dealt with the price increase: I allow myself a given amount of money each month for comics. Now, while that amount is flexible within a few bucks, it is a pretty solid line, especially with what is happening within the greater economy at the moment.

Right now, what has happened is that I am down to NO regular Marvel titles. I am picking up AV v. INV but when that wraps up, I will be only getting Captain America trades from Marvel. How sad is that considering I used to get over 15 regular Marvel titles a month? What started my decline in Marvel purchases was all the must have, big event cross overs, starting with those events in the mutant titles. I ended up just dropping all of those books rather than having to pick up extra titles each month. Then Marvel started doing similar stuff with the Avengers books, which I stayed with through the first several issues of New Avengers but then realized I just wasn’t enjoying it.

By that point, I has found enough DC titles that I enjoyed on a regular basis that I have cut Marvel back to just limited series that I think look good at the time, the last being the Last Defenders and AV v. INV. I did try Amaz. Spidey when it rebooted but just didn’t care for it. I was really hoping I would like it.

So I am now a purchaser of mainly DC and some independents with only a bit of Marvel here and there. Perhaps had they held the line at $2.99 longer it woulda stuck around longer.

Look, I can see why the prices are going up. Evrything has gone up over the years, and comics is not exempt from it. Comics has come a long way since the late 70′s. Now you get a pretty good story and dam good art and colors. It’s unfortunate, but it is the facts of life. Here in America, we can glope about buying any type of comics. Whether there 50 cents or $2.99. Thats just America. When you go over seas to different countries, ie Colombia, France, Germany, Peru, Mexico, its not the same. People dont spend there hard earened money in comic books, video games or dvds. They use it for education, food. housing and clothing. They rather go out dancing have a good time, have a place to live with modest commodities, than what we have here. Overbundance of everything. Reading this threa, is no wonder why peple around the world hate Americans, becuase to them stuff like this is so trivial, when they have so many necesities. In the end, we don’t like price hikes, heck I don’t and it has affected my collection a bit, but there inevitable. Whether its Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, or IDW. And for all those people that say don’t buy this……Well let me tell you, everytime I go to Barns and Noble or my comic book store, people are buying comic books by the dozen to include trades. It ain’t going to stop…………..Thats just like the gas prices, many people will adjust, but others that are well off will continue to buy the gas guzzlers and spend the money…………………..Becuase Americans love to spend the moneyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

the freaky tiki

June 1, 2009 at 1:14 pm

The more and more I read this thread, the more and more I realize no one has actually taken the time to LISTEN to the attached audio file.

• LISTEN to what is said.
• LISTEN to what the reasons are for the price increase.
• LISTEN to how the corporation views it’s relationship with it’s customers.
• LISTEN to what will happen if the buying public chooses to buck the INELASTIC moniker.

the Tiki

Ummm, Alan, before you tell everyone that what I wrote “Is just completely wrong” you might want to double check your facts first:

“…Marvel “was facing rising costs in everything from travel and entertainment… ”

You wrote: “Marvel has no travel and entertainment costs. Everything they spend gets written off in accounting moves. That’s the way of corporations.”

Apparently you attribute the first quote to me. It is not mine. I was quoting Buckley, the President of Marvel. You did not include the comment I added right after that about these being costs that could be cut. Marvel does have travel and entertainment costs. If you read the article that started this thread you will note that Buckley was first quoted at a talk he gave at the NY Comic-Con. Their execs travel to a number of conventions. These are travel and entertainment costs (Known as T&E in many companies) And no, expenses don’t just disappear because “everything they spend gets written off in accounting moves. That’s the way of corporations.” They may charge costs to a different budget line or department but there is no such thing as a cost being written off and just going away.

You wrote: “The old, “We lose money on individual sales, but make it up on volume” dodge. The percentage that Marvel makes on a comic is essentially the same as it was a decade ago.”

If that is what you thought I said you completely missed the point of what I wrote. I said they have to make enough money on their better selling titles to cover the losses on their poorer selling titles. Do the math: 5,000 copies X $2.99 = $14,950. Retailers cost depends on how much they order, but a fair average is 50%. Diamond easily gets another 10% and possibly more. That leaves at the most a 40% cut for Marvel. 40% of $14,950 is $5,980 and only $4,485 if their cut is only 30%. I have no idea what their contract with Quebecor calls for (who I understand is struggling with bankruptcy right now) but printing 5000 copies of a 32 page full color comic would use up most of that and we haven’t even mentioned writer, penciler, inker, letterer or production department salaries or corporate overhead yet. These things have to be paid for by selling advertising and very few national advertisers are interested in something with a readership of 5,000. Which is why they have to bundle their ads with their major titles. That is the point that I was trying to make.

“No, they didn’t. A small number of artists may have been able to put out numerous books a month, but most were only doing 1, maybe 2.”

Not true. If you go back 40 years ago page rates were so low that artists had to turn out a large volume of work to make a living. Since they were free lancers many also worked in advertising to supplement their income. This information came to me from some of the artists from that time period who I have met over the years.

“But it must be, or they wouldn’t be selling so many trades. This statement just doesn’t hold logical sense.”

A significant percentage of trades are sold through the book market, that do not sell comic magazines, which is why publishers support them. Even so, sales are commensurately lower than the comics they collect . While they have a much longer shelf life, giving them a better chance of sales catching up with the comics over time, this revenue comes in long after the bills have to be paid. Since the material has already been created their production costs are much lower as well. Assuming that the same dollar volume in trades with the same production costs but without advertising revenue would be as profitable as the magazine format is what “doesn’t make logical sense”.

As I wrote, I am not defending the $3.99/32 page product. I think it is a bad deal. My point was there is a lot more to this than appears on the surface and before everyone starts pointing fingers they need to take all the points of view into consideration.

Rich

Also, keep in my that just dropping a 3.99 book is doing the job. Taking your money out of the industry is not the answer. It’s about taking your money to different places and spreading out that market share.

The market may shrink by people dropping books, but Marvel still controls the same percentage of the market.
So, if you dropped a 3.99 Marvel book pick something else up to replace it. That’s how you make your impact.

I just want to know what Marvel are planning on doing to help reduce comic prices for their overseas market. Here in Australia, we pay approx 2.5 times the US cover price. So an issue of Dark Avengers, costing $3.99 in the US costs $9.95 here in Australia.

I still buy my favourite books each week, because my current financial situation allows me the luxury of doing so. But any further price increases will definately stop my monthly collecting, and will be waiting for the 6 monthly release of the collective trades.

I shudder to think what will happen the day I have stop collecting my favourite Avengers titles.

If they’re not raising the prices on the kids’ titles, why on Earth is Franklin Richards clocking in at $3.99 an issue?

I’m not getting any of the $3.99 books. If the Marvel books I do buy go up without anything to justify the increase (i.e., more story pages, thanks DC), I’ll drop them too. For me, it’s as simple as that.

Brian From Canada

June 1, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Rich is right about the percentages. As someone who once worked the retail side of things, store cost averages 50% of cover price, so Marvel’s only getting its cut after Diamond has taken theirs off the half. And then they have to pay the heavy expenses of printing and shipping to Diamond before they get into the REAL expenses like advertising for it in Previews, paying for the couriers/Internet service to go from creator to creator, the registering of the issue for trademark, etc.

AND one of the big incentives to the price hike may be Diamond itself. Diamond’s changed its distribution threshold, and chances are that they’re hinting at a raise in costs to distribute the big guys’ books as well.

Where I disagree with Rich, however, is the idea of cutting the cost of travel and entertainment. Remember: this is how Marvel recruits its talent, and more importantly how Marvel connects directly with the fans. It costs money to send those booths; it costs money to arrange for an editor to be there. And considering how few major conventions there are in the circuit, it pays more in the long run because the happy fan is a buying fan.

I also disagree with those who talk about cheaper books. Marvel’s 99¢ line in the late 90s didn’t fail because it wasn’t making money — it failed because the RETAILERS weren’t making enough money per square foot on it. When Wal-Mart says no because it’s not worth their time, you don’t do it.

Quite frankly, I’m surprised at how many people are outraged at this considering that Quesada has been mentioning this for over a year now. Supplies come from overseas and the US dollar is slipping, making it cost more; supplies are being shipped, and the cost of gas is rising. All around there’s inflation, and it was time for the comicbook industry to take the hit. A 25% hike is significant, but that’s what happens when you hold the cost for so long.

And at least Marvel explained it in real terms: it’s a company, and it needs to “maximize” profits. In other words, it has to show the product is profitable and reaching its potential. DC doesn’t have to raise prices — in the 28 years since being bought by Warner’s, it’s NEVER turned a profit. In fact, Warner’s WANTS it to lose money so it can move some of the profit of the better divisions to cover the losses on the comics.

As for the trades — Rich, you missed one very significant point. Book stores in North America do not handle the product the same way as comic shops do. If a comic shop wants the product, it pays for it on arrival; if a book store wants to carry a product, it gets it ON CONSIGNMENT. That means it doesn’t get paid for until it’s sold. And if the product sticks on the shelf too long, it gets sent back to the distributor to be dealt with… at the distributor’s dime.

For fiction and non-fiction, this usually translates into a set discount scale so the distributor doesn’t get it back. Hence the massively marked down hardcovers.

Diamond just got back all the Tokyo Pop stuff from one of the big US chains, and with all those new trades coming from Marvel and DC there’s a lot of them coming back to Diamond. Diamond, more often than not, passes the cost back on to the comic companies in penalties or credits against future sales. If Marvel and DC are raising costs of trades, it’s to ensure they get maximum revenue against an impending percentage of loss.

And that’s assuming a quick return on the products. Vertigo only gets its costs back in trades, and even then it took years for some books later in the series to reach that point.

One huge question jumps out at me, why do so many seem to assume that John Turitzin is being completely honest?

If he is doing a presentation to investors trying to emphasize how great Marvel’s business model is then when asked about price hikes, would he really say something like “We can’t control our costs” or “We’re not doing a very good job of controlling our costs” or “In the current business environment, it’s really hard to control costs”?

I dislike the price increases as much as everyone else, but it just doesn’t seem that the truth would be that this guy is being totally honest and the other people that we have heard from are being completely dishonest. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Costs probably are rising more than Marvel would like, but perhaps not to the extent that they are trying to convince us of. They could perhaps get away with a smaller increase, but think it would be easier to go for the full $1.00.

Do these people even care about the fans? I have hard to believing anyone at marvel or at dc do anymore. Yeah dc gives you 10 pages of extra story but still the extra dollar stings a bit. Though it doesn’t stop the sting of what might happen in Blackest Night and the fact that there are better characters as zombies then the ones clamining to be them (Aquaman, Firestorm). It makes me sick. :( The full dollar is crazy if they even go to $5 I don’t see how marvel can survive even trying this. The enconomy sucks, a lot of the top books suck (Cap America, New/Dark Avengers, Uncanny X-Men, Spider-Man, Hulk). I tried warning this was coming and no one listen anywhere. This going to damage the industry and right now it doesn’t need it. Increasing prices is like raising taxes in a bad enconomy. Lightbulb just doesn’t go on for these people.

This appears to be an overwhelming majority not only saying they will drop $3.99 issues, but they also truly appear to mean it. Hang on tight, Marvel: you’re about to experience a 90′s style crash. Better hope your movies can cover your overhead for the next decade.

I like how Marvel is raising the price of their reprint collections–the hardcovers and trades. Seeing as many of them are printed overseas for a cost of around $1 a copy, they must be making a ton of cash on each printing.

I love the quote: “Increasing prices is like raising taxes in a bad economy.”

Raising taxes in the current economy is what people voted for in America! This is Obama’s plan and last time I checked he was popular as heck.

Also: comic prices are the same as taxes – that has so many bad implications – like our entertainment is on the same level as what our government provides. Maybe it is, if you live in your momma’s basement.

Keep raising prices, Marvel. It works for Obama!

Well $3.99!!! Looks like to me you are gonna lose a great deal of readers Marvel. I am one of them.

The prices won’t come down from $ 3.99. If anything they’ll go up if this is successful from a business stand point. I’m ok with that like another poster said, if we get a better format / package. If I could get a nice thick glossy style magazine with the same quality stories in a longer format, or more stories per issue, I’m ok with it.

A couple of years ago I mostly stopped buying new comics except for some of the excellent TwoMorrows fanzines. Slowly I’ve picked up a couple of other titles because I simply can’t resist the return of certain characters or titles.

Like many of you, I’ve collected for decades and seen price increases before. I cringed when they went from $ 2 to $ 2.50 or $ 2.99, but this last increase of $ 1 is sheer lunacy. I guess when you’re Marvel with a commanding lead in market share and an “addicted” collector base, you can have sustainable losses.

DC’s approach of adding a co-feature is much better. More pages of story and the continuation of characters that might not otherwise be able to carry their own title i.e. Manhunter, Blue Beetle.

What puzzles me is some of the non-Big Two raising their prices ? Top Cow, are you serious ? Dark Horse and Image would be really smart to at least hold the price where it’s been. I think they were doing fine before.

I think this is also part of their ultimate plan to squeeze the customer base into either A. paying through the nose, or B. subscribing online. Either way the biggest loser either of these scenarios is the LCS, the middleman.

Another part of this whole problem is distribution. The comics industry has a virtual monopoly with Diamond controlling probably 95 % or more of the direct market.

Something’s going to give.

As far as carving back on titles, I cut back over the years and now it’s become much more easy for me to pick and choose. Breaking the completist mentality is the biggest thing. Even following certain creators slavishly isn’t wise. Most of them can misfire too i.e. Geoff Johns’ Infinite Crisis.

Marvel mostly lost me with the hyper-exploitation of the mutant universe, and then the sheer dreck they mostly put out in the 90′s, and finally this.

There’s lots of back issues I can enjoy for less or similar money, esp with my LCS and the internet.

I like comics

June 1, 2009 at 9:47 pm

I have to say—for a lot of people reading a comic can take five minutes….so just looking at the value of that, it’s and expensive five minutes. I think if they legitimately need to raise costs to maintain quality, and viability as a business, then okay—but by a whole dollar, that’s increasing it by third of it’s original cost! that’s a lot.

So I can basically buy a $4.50 dvd movie from wal-mart or target, entertaining myself with a story for an hour and twenty minutes for fifty cents more than a comic now.

Sadly, like the movie and tv industry 90% of comic issues are forgettable throwaways anyway. I think some of these comics will stay more expensive, but they can at least be honest about why….it’s not about quality, it’s just about profit maximization (business). Which is understandable, but comics have been more of a community than the movie industry—if they’re going to start misleading us, comics have gotten too big for their britches and will have become the pulp throwaway art the pretend to have transcended.

Rob T said:

“Raising taxes in the current economy is what people voted for in America! This is Obama’s plan and last time I checked he was popular as heck.”

Well, Rob, he’s only raising taxes on those who makes a lot of money. If I remember correctly, only on those who make over $250,000 a year. How can this possibly hurt you? And don;t give me that crap about higher taxes will ruin the economy. We’ve had lower taxes on the upper class for nearly 8 years now, and the economy couldn’t possibly be any worse.

all i can say is- eBay. the greatest discounts for TPBs are Feature_Comics and InStockTrades. I get all my Masterworks and Archives from InStockTrades, and just got 13 Marvel Trades for $40 from Feature, who deal only in sets. Also got a complete Fables and Walking Dead from them in the $70 and $35 (!!!) range. Now I hope both sellers hook me up for this plug, but honestly, I dont know why more readers arent looking for the best ways to save a buck while completing their collection. I know loyalty to your LCS is good, but these are tough times we live in, when even your passion can become a luxury.

@Hondo: you wrote:
“What puzzles me is some of the non-Big Two raising their prices ? Top Cow, are you serious ? Dark Horse and Image would be really smart to at least hold the price where it’s been. I think they were doing fine before.”
C’mon, if anybody should have a right to raise their prices it’s gotta be Dark Horse. When I first started collecting Comicbooks, Marvel cost about 1,50- DC, cost a bit more if you look at the average prices. Image were 2,50- mostly and Dark Horse cost 2,99-.
Today, more than ten years later Dark Horse books still mostly cost 2,99-, while every other publisher has since increased their Cover prices at least by a dollar (okay, there are still Image books for 2,99-, but less each month).
I think the big 2 are the one that shouldn’t increase prices and I think most people are too stupid to do the only thing which will force MArvel to get back to lower prices and stop buying the more expensive books.

Well, It’s now time for me to cancel bunches of comics regardless of their cover price. Although a $3.99 US cover price doesn’t get any cheaper across the border in Canada. That’s just too much in these troubled financial times.

Greedy Marvel! Trying to get more money out of me! Well, that money is MINE, Marvel! It’s MINE!!!! You OWE me the comic at a price I am willing to pay!!!

Seriously folks, people who whine about corporate greed are the greediest little turds around.

As for the wisdom of raising prices, time will tell.

“Well, Rob, he’s only raising taxes on those who makes a lot of money. If I remember correctly, only on those who make over $250,000 a year. How can this possibly hurt you? And don;t give me that crap about higher taxes will ruin the economy. We’ve had lower taxes on the upper class for nearly 8 years now, and the economy couldn’t possibly be any worse.”

Cap’n Trade says YES IT CAN!!

I guess I shouldn’t complain. I’ve probably saved over $100 or more this year because of my reduced comic buying. I don’t buy any $3.99 Marvels, and I am buying only a few additional DCs due to their lower prices— But this new price point has been a good reason for me to reduce my comics-related spending, and enjoy other methods of entertainment.

We all enter cycles where we are fully engaged in comics (knowing most books’ creators, knowing of significant events), and we all have other cycles where we find comics rather boring and nearly tedious.

This price increase is precipitating a less engaged cycle, but one that I fear will become permanent.

I’m not going to lie, I was having a hard enough time trying to get all the titles I got (when towards the end was just about everything Marvel put out) when the prices were 2.99, when the 3.99 books hit (with 4.99 double sized issues), that just kinda killed the whole comic thing for me. I’ve been collecting mainstream Marvel comics since 1989, but with this economy the way it is right now, I’m not putting myself in the poor house for the House of Ideas, it’s been a fun and wild ride, but I’m not sticking around for 40, 3.99 titles and you can bet for sure I have no intentions upon EVER paying 4.99 monthly for a comic book, I mean seriously comic collecting is getting more expensive than a night at the movies.

I recall, how back nearly 35 years ago in 1974, a former bud walked away from comic collecting totally, because of marvels5 cent price increase, followed by deadline doom reprints. In all farness, he was looking for an excuse to call it quits. He gave a fortune in todays prices of books away,not to me of course.Anyway, I make a graph at the end of each year, listing month by month, the books Im considering picking up next year. When you have just 10 books short of a 550 issue run like the avengers, it’s admitingly, hard to call it a day, eeasier with the prices jacked up as they are.Same for daredevil.Back in 1995, with spectaculer spidy 226 or so, they crossed the line, with the spidy clone saga, and nearly wrecked the company. The Ron perlman era, was the worst era in comics history. You would think they learned a little respect for their readership.Im learning the great pleasure of picking up books a few years down the line,in the 50 cent/75 cent boxes.Im definitly shaving a few monthlys and one shots off my list.I also predict the death of the comic shp news pretty soon,inasmuch as most shops i know off quit after they more then doubled their prices.

Some ten or so years back, I recall Disney bigshot Eisner, making the remark, that the admission prices to Disneyland & world, would be continued to be jacked up, until attendence dropped off. the same philosophy is being put into action here.The characters that kirby, Ditko & Lee crafted, over 45 years ago, are very beloved to a generation of fans, but we are in times riviling the decade of the 1930s, and they’re roasting the goose that layed the golden eggs.

It is a stupid move to increase the price. I am and always be against this.

If the company has too much costs then they have to cut back within the company, not at the expense of the reader or charge more for their ads inside their best selling books.

Marvel publishes more monthly book now than ever so they still are doing good business so why trying to gouge the readers plus they earn more money because of movie revenues and other merchandise revenue. so they are just trying to rip people off…

As a kid looking for fun,what would you choose, rent a video game that will last for hours or days or read a comic that will last for half an hour to an hour if you are a slow reader. think about this.

Rising prices will only lead to people buying less book and looking for cheaper entertainment that will last longer. People are not dumb. Goign this way the publishers will only end up killing their business.

The prices are rising but the quantity of the product is the same as decades ago. It is a no win situation for the reader.

Too many books, too much of a high cost. Marvel does not care about it’s readers anymore, looking at this article they see people as just ATM machines that will give them moeny over and over.

nuff said !

Been giving this some more thought. back in the mid 1980s, marvel raised the price on just their mini series, to 75 cents, under the statement, that they would then stave off price increases on the rest of the line. A 3.50 price on the minis, I’d go for, with holding the good selling books at 2.99, but rolling back the price with the poorer selling titles to 2.50, and the on the brink titles,to 1.99.As is, they are doing the worst thing,at the worst time.Funny, but time was,in the mid 80s, they didnt dare go right from 60 cents to 75 cents.The silver age books, continue to skyrocket in value, as most of the newer end up in the 25 cent- 1.00. bins.

Thanks for the additional postings. It appears nearly all of us agree that the price increases are a horrible mistake, and some significant number of us fear the end of the comics industry because of these large increases during this country’s depression. (and what about the potential demise of the LCS?)

However, I also submit (and others have mentioned) that comics offer less value per issue than ever before. The panels are larger, some comics are more ‘cartoony’, and the stories are less dense. A 12cent Charlton from the 60s probably has the amount of story contents of 3 or 4 issues today (though certainly I wouldn’t argue quality with most Charlton books…). Coloration has improved substantially, but the other comic elements (lettering, story, art) have not—though some artists do stretch boundaries and produce some wonderful results…. Still, there are fewer panels per page for most publishers today…

“And while some would like to argue that we should print on cheaper paper and use cheaper coloring, it doesn’t wash, because the minute we do that, we’ll notice a significant decline in readership and interest in comics. Lets be real, your video games are not Pong anymore either You can’t move backwards.
And realistically, nobody, truly, wants to move backwards. Sure, I bet Hollywood could go back to doing nothing but black and white non special effects movies, but lets see where that gets us. Like anything, in our hearts, we want to see comics look as great and spectacular as they can, but to do that, we have to remain competitive not just with other comic companies, but with other mediums and in this changing world, everything is costing more.” –Feb20. Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada

the problem is that he’s juggling too much. the answer is simple, and simple is hard. instead of focusing on the human quality of story and art, he comes off as a status quo man trying to please everyone. dot matrix color printing was cheaper and paper was cheaper. how much? i don’t know, but before and after there was a huge leap in prices in the early 90′s. i had no problem with dot matrix or lesser paper, and if it meant shaving up to a dollar off a given book, i highly doubt anyone else would either. but he doesn’t even seem to care to find out: status quo.

it takes faith in the reader and courage to cut away from everything else and ride out the storm. if he can’t muster it, 4 and 5 dollar comics certainly won’t cut it. i’ve read them at bookstores, sometimes at comic shops. it takes maybe 5 minutes and their forgotten. story compression is gone. i won’t look down on the leadership behind D.C. and Marvel, but i can’t look up to them either, let alone enjoy their work.

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