In an interview with Comic Book Resources, DC Comics co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan Didio addressed the company’s recently-announced price drop on their titles from $3.99 for 22 pages to $2.99 for 20 pages, and gave an interesting reasoning behind it: They’re trying to keep fans from leaving comics altogether. Here’s Lee:
If you’re a lifelong comic book fan or buyer and are all of the sudden being asked to pay $3.99 for a book, it gives you a reason to stop collecting in general. It breaks your spirit because you’re going, “Comics cost way too much. This is weekly entertainment. They’re episodic, and this makes it too expensive of a hobby to be in.” So then they bail altogether… To me, this is all about keeping the hobby as affordable as possible while obviously keeping the same quality and level in the storylines. I think there is a psychological bond that is broken when you keep raising prices and assume they’re going to keep buying it because they love the characters.
And here’s Didio:
Jim touched upon the unfortunate reality in the business right now is that if you push people out or get too pricey and too expensive, you’re pushing them out completely. They’re not just dropping one or two titles – they’re dropping the hobby. That’s the thing. They might come back for the occasional trade, but for me what makes comic book collecting is that periodical nature of going in month in, month out or week in, week out. That’s what I love about it, and I think it’s that sense of community, the shared environment and shared experience. With so much going on these days, people love that weekly experience. And we want to match that. We don’t want to give them reasons to not be buying anymore. As a matter of fact, we’re going the complete opposite way, which is one of the reasons why they continue to buy. The way to do that is pricing in a way that is affordable and makes sense and also make stories that they just can’t put down and feel like they haven’t seen before.
It’s an argument that ties in, in part, to famed retailer Brian Hibbs’ recent commentary about both DC and Marvel chasing fans out of the medium (although, as Hibbs says, “economy, price, those are certainly major factors, but the core problem really comes down [to] content”), but one that might be challenged by Marvel’s Joe Quesada, who told Newsarama over the weekend:
There’s a sweet spot in there. If you lower prices too much across the board, you may actually be hurting retailers somewhere down the road. I don’t know what that magic sweet spot is, that’s something for our marketing guys… but it’s something that we’re very [aware] of, it’s a rough economy out there and fans want to get their books, and some things might be pricing them out of contention, for some of these books. But we also have to be very, very careful on the pricing of the books and digital comics, because we don’t want to hurt our retailers. And that’s really the ultimate goal here.
So, which will save comics first? Cheaper comics, which will allow fans to not feel as outpriced by their hobby, or more expensive comics, that will give retailers more of a financial incentive to sell them? Maybe the solution is a $3.50 price point, with that extra 51 cents going directly to the store owners…
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