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Sources: Maybe it *is* Amazon who is setting those 99¢ prices on Marvel collections

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By now you’ve seen the upset reactions from retailers over the ongoing digital sale of 99¢ comics collections. You’ve heard about CB Cebulski’s statement that Marvel is not setting the prices, and it’s an Amazon/Comixology thing. And you’ve read Brian Hibbs’ open letter when he says he is very disappointed at Marvel. It seems that Marvel has done it again.

But what if…CB Cebulski was telling the truth?

I’ve reached out to Amazon for comment but received nothing back. I’ve been told in the past that it is quite common for Amazon to sell products at prices that are not set by the publisher or manufacturer and that many digital sales sales are not originated by the publisher.

And this time, I have heard from a couple of informed sources who tell me that it[s quite likely that this is what happened here. Much of this has to do with the contract.  Retailers at the Diamond Summit quite rightly asked why only Marvel’s digital collections are being deep discounted., but it’s possible that Marvel signed a different contract with other publishers that gives Amazon greater leeway in pricing.

Amazon buys its products from comics publishers for the same rate regardless of how much they sell it for. But they often offer deep discounts on products that Amazon chooses – sometimes just because they they they are overpriced. Examples include The Prime Reading and Prime Book Club.

So when CB Cebulski said that the 99¢ pricing was something that Amazon and Comixology had come up with…as unlikely as it may sound to the average comics reader, it is actually possible that this is what happened.

Now, does Marvel need to contact Amazon and Comixology and find out what the heck is going on and stop selling brand new collection the week of release at an insanely low price? Absolutely. It is devaluing digital comics and further lowering potential profits and royalties for creators and publishers alike.

What the truth of the matter is, I’m not here to say for now. I know that CB Cebulski told people who spoke with him after the show that he was giving the best information he had and he knew that it wasn’t adequate but it was all he had to go on.

Let’s face it, Amazon is not the most transparent of companies, even for suppliers. God knows, trying to get information out of them on a matter like this is nearly impossible. In this case, trusted observers have told me that what is happening with Marvel’s digital collections might not be Marvel’s idea at all. And this is a scenario that is at least worth considering.

46 COMMENTS

  1. It probably is all Amazon, but Marvel still has a responsibility to figure out what’s going on and do something. Book publishers would never stand for their new books being sold for 99 cents the week of release.

  2. It makes perfect sense for amazon to do this – I would guess they consider this a *marketing* cost in an attempt to build share.

    There will many users like me who haven’t used comiXology but using their amazon account and 69p have in a couple of minutes a new graphic novel and have been trained to regularly return to see what else is 69p…

    As for getting them to stop – amazon aren’t stupid, I’ll be amazed if their ability to do this isn’t built into their contract – so they might be about to get them to stop at some point in the future but I will wager not for a while.

  3. @Chris Hero – would book publishers care? Are they as concerned about protecting brick-and-mortar as comics publishers are? Not saying you’re wrong, just not the general impression I’ve ever gotten, although can’t say I’ve ever dug too deeply.

  4. ok, this I believe a bit more. Maybe I’m just cynical but I don’t put much stock in anything CB (or any of the major pubs/writers) say about things because of how produced and managed everything is.

  5. I have no doubt that the 99 cents pricing is all Amazon’s doing, but companies like Marvel can enforce a minimum SRP (MSRP) for their products. Just seems Marvel is dragging their feet on this as long as possible until they are finally forced to tell Amazon to knock it off.

  6. Amazon has done this on the book side of things. They had an antitrust case brought against them and people received payouts.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1002402851

    A description of what they were doing can be found here:

    https://consumerist.com/2014/03/25/amazon-begins-issuing-credits-from-e-book-price-fixing-lawsuit/

    This practice on one side of the business added to the Disney spat (try pre ordering Black Panther on Blu-Ray on Amazon) brings into the realm of possibility that Amazon would be trying to drive business to Comixology in a very aggressive fashion.

  7. But Amazon doesn’t buy digital at the price Retailers pay for physical books. Is it a case of them paying Marvel the full cut on a digital sale (whatever that may be), or is Marvel just happy to get a check from them for whatever they sold since they really have no way to track. “Here’s your check for X digital sales!” “Thanks!” I’m not saying Amazon is cheating them. I’m just saying Marvel is happy to get a check for whatever since it’s all profit after creating the digital files to send.

  8. Regardless of who sets the price for the digital content, publishers can always just pull their products from Amazon and Comixology at any time. I know if my company’s content was suddenly being offered at a price that killed any chance for profit and was hurting my relationship with retailers, I’d remove it ASAP and if a nobody like me can do it, Marvel/Disney certainly can and in less time.

    Marvel has gotten a lot of free publicity from all kinds of comic websites who have been reporting these 99 cent digital collections. They have found a new way to boost revenue on digital material that few people were paying full price for, and that costs NOTHING to produce. My guess is Infinity Siblings underperformed in print via retailer pre-orders and, since it is an OGN rather than a collection of single issues, it is a perfect candidate to test whether charging the lowest possible price for new content day/date with print could let them make up in volume what they lose compared to doing it the old fashioned way. It also doesn’t hurt to get people to try reading new comics digitally to prime them for eventually subscribing to the Marvel Unlimited platform. So when Amazon goes back to charging higher prices for digital trades, it’ll make the flat-fee Unlimited service all the more appealing.

  9. It seems really logical, that, Comixology/Amazon or not, anybody signing a contract with them, letting them set the price they want, would still put conditions to the setting of those prices, to safeguard their new release in print, at least for the duration of their pike in sales. That’s logical. You don’t see image Walking dead Compendium at 99 cents 1 week after their release at Comixology, right?
    That’s the kind of situation which should be clear with one phone call. Either Marvel signed a contract letting them do it, and then they knew this would happen . Or they didn’t sign a contract saying they can do it and it seem very unlikely.

  10. Of course Amazon is doing this. They have a history of doing this. It’s their modus operandi. Not only is it well documented, but there have been lawsuits over it that Amazon has won. Amazon claims “loss leader” and gets away with it. It’s really predatory pricing, but the courts haven’t yet figured out the internet, so they don’t understand that.

  11. @Glenn Simpson

    I really don’t know. I’m not in publishing. My understanding from being an observer is book publishers are fiercely protective of book prices on the whole. They don’t care where the books are sold or about the health of brink and mortar versus digital, but they do care very much about their product being undervalued.

  12. Retailers need to get over it. Figure out how to evolve or prepare to get run over.

    Blockbuster laughed at online videos and Netflix saw the opportunity.

    If the local comic shop wants to survive, it needs to up its game. Look at the Amazon bookstores as one potential model. Look at coffee shops as another. Try new things and do it fast.

    The commenter above talking about book publishers would never allow this … please. Go to the Kindle store and look at the regular sales of kindle books at prices dramatically lower than cover price.

    In some ways, the release week sales make a ton of sense to create recurring revenue. A limited time sale creates fear of missing out and urgency to buy. If you miss the week, you pay a higher price for the books in the future so collect them all!

    Marvel had that magic for awhile with Omnibuses that went out of print. It made you want to grab new ones before they were gone and you were forced to go to aftermarkets like eBay and pay hundreds for the book. But … they caved to fan pressure and re-issued books.

    Short term thinking is killing the industry … not 99 cent digital sales.

  13. One more data point for this – when DC has a sale on Comixology, the same prices show up on Google Play and the iTunes store. These Marvel sales have been only on Amazon/Comixology – they haven’t shown up on Google Play (I haven’t checked iTunes – no access to Apple devices currently). Right now Comixology is having a “Joker sale” and the prices there match the prices on Google Play for the same books. (Another point is that DC’s discounted books are almost always advertised as a sale, while Marvel has just had books with randomly set prices for a while now).

    To me that’s a strong indication to me that DC has more control over their sale prices with Amazon than Marvel does. What’s surprising to me is that you’d think that Marvel was the 800 lb. gorilla with all of the clout and that Image would be getting pushed around if Marvel was getting pushed around, but Image books seem to follow the same patterns as DC books.

  14. Johnkelly00, my point was simply that Marvel’s hands aren’t tied at all. They can stop amazon from charging these rock-bottom prices by pulling the books. It takes two seconds and a single mouse click. By not removing these 99 cent digital trades, Marvel is complicity approving the practice for many of the reasons you state. Retailers cannot return any unsold copies of Infinity Siblings now so Marvel keeps all that money. And Marvel can risk retailers not ordering their trades in future because Marvel knows that retailers are in the business of ordering comics to sell at a profit. If they stop ordering Marvel, they are free to use that money to order comics/trades from other publishers. The problem is very few people want to try comics/trades from other publishers and very few retailers have the time or desire to hand-sell them to those potential customers.

  15. Another thing to keep in mind is the difference between the digital and paper markets. 15 years ago everyone feared e-readers would kill off real books and bookstores. They didn’t. In the end they were viewed as a separate product by the public. There was a recent article about how independent bookstores are thriving now despite digital and amazon (which wound up killing off the big box bookstores which had been plaguing the independent bookstores). Someone who’s going to drop $100 on a hard cover omnibus likely isn’t going to buy the digital instead — they want the good looking hardcover (otherwise they could pick up the same content cheaper in a bunch of tpbs). Retailers are unsurprisingly upset at any hit during a difficult period, but I really don’t think one-week 99-cent digital sales will have that major an impact on retailer sales.

  16. What is this bizarre love affair with the “LCBS”? Why is its ultimately doomed fate any sadder or more earthshattering than Borders or B Dalton or Brentano’s or Barnes & Noble? Is it the typically uninformed, bored, uninterested demeanor of the staff that has such a huge appeal? Is it the creepy sexism on display when a woman wanders in to buy a comic for the first time and are dismissively hand waved to the manga and archie section? Is it paying 4 or 5 dollars for something you get for 50 cents in a year or two at a convention or on ebay? My question is, who cares if it dies? There will still be comics and books both print and digital, only it will be cheaper. If that hurts comic shop owners then so what? Apply for unemployment and do something else. Go open a hardware store. Go to night school and take a business management course. Go into a field that, you know, actually makes money and doesn’t rely on the whining over more formidable competition and pathetic guilt trips by LCBS owners and gouging the customers. As a customer it’s not my job to care if a hobby you turned into a marginally lucrative business makes enough money to feed your wife and kids. I feel no guilt at your plight, Mr. Hibbs. None at all.

    If Amazon was no longer able to sell a Marvel Masterworks volume for 99 cents it doesn’t follow that it would stop selling them for 6 dollars or 8 dollars or selling 140 dollar omnibuses for 60 bucks. So what have retailers gained? And if it did there would always be ebay sellers who care just as little about brick and mortar retailers profit margins as Amazon does. You know how often I see 50% off sales for omnibuses or epic collections or archive collections at LCBS’s? Practically never. And why is it that comic book shops that have ebay stores sell their product cheaper online than in the actual store? Retailers whine about the 99c price point being a big FU to retailers. How is a comic shop selling product cheaper online than in the store any less of a big FU to customers?

    This whole discussion reminds me of Danny DeVito’s famous “buggy whip” speech in the film Other People’s Money. Comic book retailers are buggy whips. Retailers are Gregory Peck giving a heartfelt, Capra’esque speech about jobs and community as they continue to soak the customers. The only value you have to the marketplace or the customers is misplaced nostalgia, period. You serve no purpose in the marketplace in the age of ebay, cheap graphic novels.com and Amazon. We got over the deaths of Borders just fine. We’ll get over the death of the LCBS in similar fashion. And if this devalues art and causes creators to have to get jobs with actual health insurance instead of having to rely on heroes initiative to pay their bills and maybe make comic books on the side, then I can live with that too as they’re probably better off.

  17. Augie said: “Amazon claims “loss leader” and gets away with it. It’s really predatory pricing, but the courts haven’t yet figured out the internet, so they don’t understand”

    Yes, because it’s less about the format differences between print and digital and more to do with it being original Intellectual Property. The Blockbuster/Netflix comparisons later in the thread don’t tell the whole story because Blockbuster and Netflix carried movies that had already run their original revenue course in theatres (not counting direct-to-video flicks) and Netflix’s original content isn’t undercutting anyone.

    It’s like if a new Star Wars movie opened in theatres but was immediately available to stream on a secondary service– no one really believes Disney would want/allow their original content to be devalued by basically giving it away, and that’s what this Marvel/Amazon thing feels like.

  18. The interesting thing here is that Amazon/ComiXology doesn’t actually sell Marvel books. According to the receipts, they appear to be acting as an agent.

    When you buy comics from ComiXology the receipt shows that books from any other publisher are published by them but sold by ComiXology: Marvel books on ComiXology are both published and sold by Marvel. It’s clear evidence of a different contract.

    One thing it implies is that Amazon can’t take a loss on cost of goods selling Marvel books no matter how low the price goes. If they’re just acting as agents and taking a cut, they may make less money this way but it’s still not costing them anything.

    That’s what made me think it was Amazon playing hardball in the first place.

  19. The LCS have a “special” place in many peoples’ lives because they are the physical location many readers walk into each week to buy the comic books they love reading. The comic book business would not currently succeed without these local, independent shops selling the actual product to actual readers. Suddenly crashing the physical comic sales market will collapse the funding for comic production of any scale or other market. Your favorite comics publishers would probably not survive that massive of a shockwave if digital was the only medium for new periodical type comics material. Bookstores sell graphic novels which require more content per unit, come out less frequently, and must compete in-store with a much broader range of book material. And digital outlets selling at the cheapest price would result in less money making it back to the publishers and creators themselves. So yeah, for the time being, we comic readers appreciate the business that LCS provide us. You digital preferring readers can appreciate your chosen format thanks to the profits coming in through physical sales at LCS and bookstores.

  20. “Retailers need to get over it. Figure out how to evolve or prepare to get run over.”

    The best way to “get over it” is to get out of competition with Comixology/Amazon on Marvel books. If they’re going to be undermined, week after week, by these sales, it’s probably best to cease ordering those products entirely (aside from guaranteed pre-orders), and focus on shelving books they can actually sell for cover price.

    It doesn’t really matter who’s behind this, Amazon or Marvel. This isn’t something they can afford to ignore.

  21. @J Levosky: Man, that first para is some high quality trolling. I especially love the dystopian, loaded descriptions that don’t match any of the 100 last comic book stores that I’ve personally walked into. Sorry if you have.

    “Comic book retailers are buggy whips”

    Look, I get that some people like to advocate for whatever their favorite flavor of anything might be, and can get pretty worked up about it, but let’s look at the real facts. I can’t post the pictures into Heidi’s commentary system, but go look at the charts here: http://www.comichron.com/yearlycomicssales/industrywide/2016-industrywide.html (based on past history, 2017’s report will be a few months more)

    It’s clear from these charts that the Direct Market is the single largest driver of sales, and while they probably will eventually get eclipsed by book stores in the next decade, it isn’t from SHRINKING sales in the DM at all, it’s from the book market growing more. Further, digital sales are flat, and just a tiny fraction of things that couldn’t possibly support the entire industry.

    Thems the facts.

    As for the title of Heidi’s essay, I, for one, don’t give a shit WHO is “to blame” for the situation, just that it gets resolved, and quickly.

    -B

  22. I’m sorry but I still see nothing wrong with this. Yes I’m biased as I’ve bought at least five books a week since this started but I would not have bought them otherwise. The sale is only for a week at a time and the audience is so different from who would have bought these as physical trades or hardcovers. I could be wrong but I just don’t see this as a threat that retailers do.

  23. sitcomics … you don’t know that Marvel can control it.

    Do they control a sale by a local comic shop? It depends on the terms of the digital licensing. It’s possible Marvel did not anticipate something like this and they have no contractural power.

  24. @Brian Hibbs … you are saying digital sales are flat. So … what’s the problem?

    Frankly, I think there are two customers here. The problem is this move may push some amount of customers from one type (physical) to the other (digital). Yes, it should worry retailers.

    But customers lead and retailers need to follow.

  25. Here’s where it starts to get interesting though. Say Amazon/Comixology have a trade listed on their website for $10. At that price, let us for simplicity’s sake say that they sell only 10 copies for $100. However, with the price point at $1, they sell 200 copies. Amazon comes out ahead because let’s face it, trades for the Big 2 sell the most right when they come out unless they are an evergreen like Watchmen or TDKR. Why would Amazon, after experiencing a sales spike, even remotely consider listening to Marvel. They’re here to make money, not keep LCS’s afloat. I shop at both, mostly because I like going to a store and I like print, but I travel quite a bit and it’s easier. Marvel may not have any power in the situation and should have done a better contract with Comixology. I don’t think they can afford to pull out now because they would take a hit in sales that they can’t afford.

  26. @johnkelly00,

    Unless Hibbs has some information that we don’t have, there is no way to know that digital sales are flat. Comixology doesn’t release their sales figures and neither do any of the publishers.

  27. If you were a Disney or Marvel exec, why wouldn’t you buy a billion copies of “Infinity Siblings” and earn yourself $11B net.

  28. Darby, I believe this site has provided information in the recent past which states digital has plateaued. I seem to remember it was information that came from publishers or creators with some knowledge of the larger market.

  29. David McDonald, comic book retailers have commented that they have seen sales dip for trades and graphic novels specifically for titles featured in Amazon/Comixology sales. I do think there are some specific splits in the audience between digital and physical but there is some overlap.

    It might not have been that bad if Comixology were only including some very old trades in their 99 cents sales, perhaps things which were already out of print. However, they have been including new Marvel trades that only just came out which comic book stores had to pre-order a good 10 to 12 weeks ago. Unlike a book store, these trades are all unreturnable which leaves the local comic holding the bag.

  30. “But customers lead and retailers need to follow.”

    This is a fundamental misunderstanding of economics that is likely the result of a generation growing up with “free” content online not understanding that someone ALWAYS has to pay.

    Mike

  31. @johnkelly00 “Brian Hibbs … you are saying digital sales are flat. So … what’s the problem?”

    Digital sales are flat…. over a period of years.

    The issue at hand is undercutting NEW THAT WEEKS graphic novels by 96%+ OFF THE COVER PRICE, nothing to do with digital as a format in and of itself.

    I’m not concerned any longer about digital itself being an existential threat to comics (or even print) — nor are most retailers, that I’m able to tell.

    @DarbyTheHutt “Unless Hibbs has some information that we don’t have, there is no way to know that digital sales are flat.”

    I LITERALLY SUPPLIED THE LINK. Sheesh!

    Yes, those are “estimates”, but I have absolute faith in the information gathering abilities of Milton Griepp and John Jackson Miller, who have literally doing this professionally for decades, long before the internet was even a thing. AFAIK *every* publisher is talking to them privately, and giving them the proper information.

    -B

  32. MBunge, exactly! Saying retailers need to fall in line is basically saying “retailers need to just close shop because I don’t like them.” Obviously retailers have to deal with a changing market, but I wouldn’t expect my LCS to be happy about this trades sale. I don’t know how the digital contracts are written up, but it’s safe to assume Comixology doesn’t pre-order X amount of copies to sell at whatever price they choose like a physical business would. They likely have to pay publishers a specific cost or percentage per issue they sell of a title. So unlike a physical retailer that had to commit money months ago to hopefully sell all their (pricey) copies, Comixology has the luxury of only paying after each sale actually occurs. I can see why a retailer might be upset if the publisher was also providing Comixology with cheaper pricing than physical retailers.

  33. @DarbyTheHutt

    I actually had to reread this one two or three times, because I was so incredulous, but….

    “Say Amazon/Comixology have a trade listed on their website for $10. At that price, let us for simplicity’s sake say that they sell only 10 copies for $100. However, with the price point at $1, they sell 200 copies. Amazon comes out ahead because…”

    So, in the first case, they’ve sold $1000 dollars, in the second, it’s $200, a loss of 4/5ths. Yay!

    “…let’s face it, trades for the Big 2 sell the most right when they come out unless they are an evergreen like Watchmen or TDKR.”

    Yes, which is exactly and precisely why doing 96%+ off in week one is a fundamentally stupid idea — why do you want to sell so cheap at the exact point that people are willing to give you the most money?

    -B

  34. Marvel has never been as good at selling Books (as opposed to comics, or recently, just covers) as DC. This was an item on this site not long ago (concerning the Marvel Knights Reprints.) It could very well be that they signed a contract to Amazon without understanding some of the implecations, but if you consider how they throw away money while publishing on paper, maybe this actually fits their bag. As long as they make good money on movies and merchandising, I do not think anyone in actual power at Disney really cares about comics or books. In my mind, Cebulski compares to my chief when I worked at the post office. A decent person, with a heart for the job, who represents management to the employees, but is considered to be just a knob or a cog by that same management.

    And Amazon just wants to kill everybody else, just like Google and Facebook does.

  35. “Someone who’s going to drop $100 on a hard cover omnibus likely isn’t going to buy the digital instead.”

    Or, like me, they do both (except I never pay retail, so it’d be more like $50-$60 for the omnibus). For books I really love, it’s nice to have a fancy physical copy and a cheap digital backup.

  36. re: “I, for one, don’t give a shit WHO is “to blame” for the situation, just that it gets resolved, and quickly.”

    The entitlement here is just so strange. What exactly are you looking for here? For comic publishers/amazon/comixology to promise to be nice and fair to retailers? For Marvel to tell Amazon to only sell product for the same amount as your product is sold for? Retailers seem to think they’re owed something here and for the life of me I can’t figure out why they think that given they have no power or leverage at all in this relationship. I’ve still seen no explanation given for why consumers should care. What exactly are you owed in all of this and why? Why do you think you deserve any consideration?

    re: “descriptions that don’t match any of the 100 last comic book stores that I’ve personally walked into”

    So….I’m trolling because you’ve personally never seen sexism or obnoxiousness exhibited by staff in a comic book shop?

    Wow.

    re: “I get that some people like to advocate for whatever their favorite flavor of anything might be, and can get pretty worked up about it”

    I’m not worked up about it at all. I’m simply non plussed by/curious about the entitlement of a group of niche retailers whose absence doesn’t leave a vacuum. And I’m not sure the inevitable death of an antiquated system is a “flavor” but ok.

    Incidentally, I wonder if Tower Records thought it was just a flavor.

  37. Mathew Fabb, I missed those posts but I’m honestly shocked. These sales would never turn me off of a trade of single issues I collect. Honestly I mostly buy books I already have tucked away in my long boxes so I can easily read them, or things I would never read otherwise, like the atlas era masterworks.

    Also I don’t think it’s technically the same product. Yes it’s the same content but it’s like saying a cheap digital movie code steals sales from a deluxe collector edition blu ray set. It’s completely different audiences.

    Honestly since I get my books shipped to me monthly via dcbs, these weekly sales have me excited each Wednesday again like I used to get as a kid going to a local comic shop so I’m clearly biased as I wrong want these sales to ever end.

  38. It’s not *completely* different audiences, though. I’m generally a print guy, but there are titles I’ve dropped in print because I knew I’d be able to pick them up cheaper in digital at some point. If it were no longer a matter of waiting, and the savings would be so significant, it would be no contest. Sure, there are books I want the physical object of — X:Men Grand Design seems like one of those titles — but how many books does Marvel put out have that kind of unique physicality?

  39. @lesovsky “Why do you think you deserve any consideration?”

    Uh, because the Direct Market is the majority of Marvel’s sales, and almost certainly disproportionately so compared to other publishers since they dominate the DM the way they do.

    Or to put it in a much more colorful way: You Don’t Shit Where You Eat.

    “So….I’m trolling because you’ve personally never seen sexism or obnoxiousness exhibited by staff in a comic book shop?”

    No, you’re trolling because of your presentation of that as a norm, rather than a rare occurrence. There is no doubt that there are bad stores in the world, I’ve shopped in a few in my own days, but that in no way describes the average store, and is pretty insulting to the hundreds of hard working retailers (and the thousands of staff behind them) who are actively trying to promote inclusion and selling to the widest possible audience they can muster in clean, exciting stores each and every day of the week.

    “And I’m not sure the inevitable death of an antiquated system…”

    You know, people said the DM was a dying system when I opened my doors in 1989. And I heard it in 1999. And 2009. And now its almost 2019, and here we are again.

  40. @DarbyTheHutt

    I actually had to reread this one two or three times, because I was so incredulous, but….

    “Say Amazon/Comixology have a trade listed on their website for $10. At that price, let us for simplicity’s sake say that they sell only 10 copies for $100. However, with the price point at $1, they sell 200 copies. Amazon comes out ahead because…”

    So, in the first case, they’ve sold $1000 dollars, in the second, it’s $200, a loss of 4/5ths. Yay!

    “…let’s face it, trades for the Big 2 sell the most right when they come out unless they are an evergreen like Watchmen or TDKR.”

    Yes, which is exactly and precisely why doing 96%+ off in week one is a fundamentally stupid idea — why do you want to sell so cheap at the exact point that people are willing to give you the most money?

    -B

    First, 10×10 is 100, not 1,000. So they’ve made more money at the lower price point by selling more copies than they otherwise would have. What I’m saying is that Amazon could be coming out ahead on the sale. I’m saying, hypothetically, that they’re selling far far far fewer copies at the full price point. When they do a sale like this, especially on this scale, they are probably making more money faster than waiting for years for someone to buy it at full price.

  41. Ben Yendall – It wasn’t Amazon who was responsible for the eBook price gouging but rather Apple and the Publishers. They were sued. Amazon and Readers were the winners.
    I for one support cheaper digital comics and collections.

  42. Mr Hibbs, I’d be interested in your thoughts if this does not stop. With amazon adding a 99 cent Graphic Novel section permanently it appears for the time being this is a thing. I know you mentioned in your letter that you would no longer order Marvel trades or HCs but if this is truly amazon’s doing why punish Marvel? Also since the sale is only for the first week shouldn’t you still invest in evergreen books or books with known followers that you can easily sell to past the initial release? I’m just curious because I know at first you reacted with frustration and anger but after years of reading your column I know you are a smart business man and I genuinely would like to see how you would combat this or adapt your Marvel business model around it.

  43. In my opinion, there ARE several things that Marvel could do: the easiest being a Minimum Advertised Price.

    There are about five-ten Marvel trades that we “can’t live without”; everything else is, by and large, slower-turning space-fillers that don’t NEED to be shelved.

    -B

  44. Leo notes ‘It’s like if a new Star Wars movie opened in theatres but was immediately available to stream on a secondary service– no one really believes Disney would want/allow their original content to be devalued by basically giving it away, and that’s what this Marvel/Amazon thing feels like.’

    You won’t see that largely because of a handful of movie theatre companies control the screens in US and Canada. That means they have the say over that issue as well as a number of other things that keeps their business model very, very profitable.

    Movies make money because damn near every major and even minor market provides what amounts to free advertising by noting and often reviewing films that’ll be playing at the local cineplex.

    Books, digital and physical, are a different matter. Amazon’s big indeed as thelast reliable figure I saw is that they have maybe six percent of the total book market. If. Ariel which is to say Disney is offeringthem a special digital deal, I’m not surprised. It’s worth it should be stressed that I’ve seen equally deep sales on both iTunes and the Kobo store, not to forget Comixology.

    Does any have data on what percentage of physical single issues and graphic novels?

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