Marvel and DC Comics have announced that they are reducing the price of many of their titles from $3.99 to $2.99. I asked a number of comics retailers for their thoughts on the change, set to take effect in January of 2011. The following thoughts are from John Belskis, owner of Excellent Adventures in Ballston Spa, New York and organizer of the Albany Comic Con (an advertiser on this site, it should be noted.)
As a small retailer, I unfortunately don’t see a price change as being enough to bring new customers in. It will result in more smaller retailers having a difficult time making the dollar amount to qualify for the 50 % discount necessary for a retailer to bother carrying more DC comics. With no middle tier on the discount structure, it’s easier for smaller retailers to opt to find other products (IDW or Dark Horse, even Image) with a higher available discount than to bother carrying any excess DC comics, no matter what the price point may be. I see this as a loss for everyone, as larger retailers may order more DC, but rack sales being what they are, they will be bound for the dollar bin. If they keep their order the same, they lose money. Small retailers, who already are having trouble making the minimum order, will move to other product. It once again speaks to me as DC’s plan to be able to charge the retailer (who they consider the true end user) a premium, by way of manipulating the discount structure, and keeping the smaller retailer, who has to carry a certain amount of DC comics to keep his clientele happy, paying more for those comics. A 35% discount is an insult to a retailer, and can be achieved by anyone without a wholesale account being necessary. This may look good to retail customers, but in the end may well hurt retailers again.
How will the price change affect your store?
I will still order only what I will absolutely sell through, so I will in fact make less on DC comics.
How do you think the change in pricing will affect the buying habits of your customers?
I don’t think enough people will take a chance on titles they don’t already collect or consider buying. Add on sales have been decreasing every quarter for almost 2 years, and I don’t think that will change. Customers will be happy to pay less for what they already buy, however.
What changes do you think this move is likely to result in for the direct market?
Without the support of a middle tier in the discount structure, the direct market will either pay more for DC comics, or make less money with what they already can sell. I don’t see this price change as being significant enough to help direct market retailers, and may in the end hurt them.
Thanks to John Belskis for his response. More retailer responses as they come in.
— Alan David Doane
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