With all the talk about comics prices, the number of $4.99 #1 issues in the Marvel relaunch and the general chaos over at DC right now, it might interest you to know that DC already has a line of $4.99 comics. If you didn’t know that, you probably weren’t looking in the right place. These aren’t the comics coming out through Diamond, they’re the returnable ones at the bookstore.
I’m not going to call this the newsstand line, since it isn’t clear that DC is actually on the traditional newsstand anymore. They pulled out of the ID wholesale system they’d previously been using, but are still in the comic sections of a few bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million. As near as I can tell, DC is offering somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 different titles from what used to be called “The New 52” and then some kids times for the bookstore racks. In general, things are $1 more expensive for this returnable edition. Let’s have a look at what was on the newsstand this last weekend.
And yes, that does mean when you had a double-sized issue of Justice League, that bumped up to an impressive $5.99.
It even seems, at least at the Books-A-Million I was visiting, that these comics were selling. That doesn’t bode well for holding the line at $3.99. After all, as my favorite Dan DiDio quote goes:
“The truth is people are leaving anyway, they’re just doing it quietly, and we have been papering it over with increased prices,” DiDio said. “We didn’t want to wake up one day and find we had a bunch of $20 books that 10,000 people are buying.”
We’ll see what the August sales estimates look like, and that’s when I’ll personally feel a little more comfortable discussing DC’s most recent relaunch, but it sure doesn’t look good based on the July estimates.
In a world where a lot of publishers like to price the first trade paperback in a series at $9.99, that’s essentially the same price point as two issues of Batman. Roughly 25 cents per page. Or to put it another way, you can read two or three pages of Superman or play a game of pinball. Personally, it takes me a lot longer to play a pinball game than it does to read two or three pages of a comic, but I supposed your mileage may vary.
I also find it very interesting that Teen Titans Go is holding the line at $2.99 and less expensive than anything else DC has at the bookstore. Could it be they just sell that many more kids comics or could it be that DC doesn’t think parents are likely to spend $5 for a 20 page comic and they can still afford to price it that way.
If you’d like to get a better understanding of how the Direct Market works and how digital comics plug into it, here’s a like to Todd Allen’s book on the industry: Economics of Digital Comics.