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Trouble with Comics, Marvel and DC Price Changes: Retailer Response #6

Marvel and DC Price Changes: Retailer Response #6

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 Jevon Kasitch of Electric City Comics in Schenectady, NY.

How will the price change affect your store?

I don’t think the change will have much direct effect on Electric City. People seem to have budgets, and spend X dollars per week, and add and drop titles to fit that amount. As prices went up they shaved books they enjoyed less and kept shaving until the budget worked. If prices go down, we’ll see the same dollars just spread across more piece sales. A zero sum game in general.

How do you think the change in pricing will affect the buying habits of your customers?

As I said, I think folks will re-add some titles to fill in the slack in their budgets. This means they may sample more, and be more inclined to try a mini-series if it looks interesting. We found that $3.99 was over the “wow, that costs a bit much” mental line that people had, and sales often were stopped by that voice in their head. Overall I think it will make it a bit easier to sell a book to someone.

What changes do you think this move is likely to result in for the direct market?

For the market as a whole it should bring piece sales up, which given the dismal numbers we’ve been seeing would be a plus. Having a larger number of viable titles makes for more room for that surprise hit to pop out from. For that new writer to be heard, etc. Over all I feel it’s a healthy move for the direct market.

A healthier move would be for both Marvel and DC to chill out on the number of titles published per month and cut line-size down to more manageable numbers. Fewer books of high quality would be welcome. A lot of what’s being shoveled out the door every month is crap, and the customers know it. And they avoid it… And by extension they are super wary of all new projects. But this is a digression from your topic.

Thanks to Jevon for taking the time to respond to my questions.

— Alan David Doane

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