“This Week’s Marvel Collections for 99¢ Each” is a page you might want to start checking every week. Strangely, there doesn’t seem to be a master listing page for this sale over at Amazon this week. Is that an oversight or by design? Hard to say.
Either way, the question of motive looms large here. It’s one thing to have a deep dive into the archives on sale for 99¢. It is a very different matter to have the week’s new book releases for 99¢. Is this Amazon applying a deep discount on their own initiative and treating it as a loss leader to bring more people onto the Kindle/digital platform and/or thin the brick & mortar herd? Is it Marvel so desperate for some end of quarter cash that they’re willing to throw their primary print distribution channel under the bus?
It’s unlikely we’ll get an official comment on the motives, but if this ends at March 31st, that might be an indicator it’s a quarterly thing.
I’d almost say the unintended consequence of this could be a consumer referendum on the price of digital single issues. Except if Amazon is the one pulling the trigger on the sale prices, this could be a deliberate attempt to force a conversation on pricing. Kindle’s author platform does enforce a pricing range if you want to get a decent discount and Apple/iTunes was enforcing of MP3 music pricing for years.
Widespread 99¢ digital TPBs make $3.99 digital single issues look ridiculously overpriced. There is a point of view, one I happen to share, that paying print cover price for a digital comic is silly. Obviously, a chunk of the audience doesn’t have a problem with it, but it could be Amazon thinks it’s holding back a wider audience and they’re trying to get enough data to find the sweet spot. Remember, the formula is price * volume. Sometimes you’re better off selling more at a lower price. The comics industry in general, and Marvel specifically, has been down the lower volume/higher price path for several years now.
If it’s not Amazon driving this, you really have to wonder if Marvel has thought this through and is willing to deal with questions about their pricing? And that’s on top of pulling the rug out from under the retail segment by discounting like this with no advance warning.
But until then, if you were looking to take a flier on some cheap reads, you might as well get them while you can.
Here’s the Kindle version of the list, if that’s how you partake of digital:
Want to learn more about how comics publishing and digital comics work? Try Todd’s book, Economics of Digital Comics
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.