robertkimmons.jpgIf you’ve been following the Major Spoilers site for some time, you know we were pointing out the $3.99 price increase way before Marvel made it official.  For every email sent to Marvel, I either recieved no reply or a firm No Comment from the House of Ideas.

Times are tough, I know, and a price increase is certainly one way to counteract the cost of print.  However, not everyone is as sympathetic with Marvel – including retailers.

Take the jump to see what Robert Kimmons of Brainstorm Movies, Comics, and Gaming of Chicago, IL had to say in his open letter to the company.

Hello to Joe Quesada and whoever else may be inclined to listen,

My name is Robert and I own Brainstorm Movies Comics and Gaming in Chicago. I am sending this to you in response to the recent price increase of more and more books going up to 3.99.

First of all, I realize that times change and everything goes up eventually. And I have told my customers that have expressed concern about the recent price increases that we should wait and see what happens. My argument was that if the page count goes from 32 to 40, then I could justify spending that on a GOOD book. I would even be willing to forgive it if the 32 page books kicked butt, like Dark Avengers #1.

The latest Previews has a line that seems to repeat itself and it is causing some rumbling. Namely that line is “Plus 8 pages of Director’s Cut Extras!” This is like a slap in the face as one customer put it…right before he had me take all Marvel titles off his list.

Oh, I know, you maybe smiled at that one. Oooo, there goes someone else threatening not to buy our books anymore. Oh what will Marvel Comics do if we don’t sell those 15 or 20 books a month to that one guy in Chicago? I imagine it wouldn’t be that big a deal…except this isn’t the first one this month.

I’m not so much worried about Marvel. I’m worried about Brainstorm. This was someone who has been a customer since the day he walked in. He has stuck it out through thick and thin, and he would probably even be willing to give the price increase a fair chance…UNDER THE ASSUMPTION THERE WOULD BE MORE STORY! Plus 8 pages of Director’s Cut Extras does NOT justify a price increase. Eight pages of story would be an easier sell.

If the price increases are due to budgetary reasons, then may I suggest that Marvel stop putting out things like Marvel: Your Universe or any of the Chronicles. I stopped ordering these with Hulk Chronicles, because that’s when my customers stopped buying them. And when they see this in Previews and then all these 3.99 books they ask me what gives. I don’t know what to tell them. Repacking material that has already come out in trades is like poking a wet cat…it does nothing but make the cat madder.

If you have some insight, I would appreciate it. But I’m pretty certain that this won’t get any response and if I do it will probably be something about how exciting the future of comics is and that the price increases are needed for this or that.

Regardless of whether you answer this or not, keep in mind that there are people out here who have invested everything they have into their stores. The same stores that rely upon people being able to afford the books they’re interested in reading. Because I have found that no matter how good a book is, if people have to make a choice between necessity and Wolverine, they will and have been lately, choose the necessity.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t raise the prices of your books. You’re going to do that anyway. I’ve seen the writing on that wall for a while now. I’m just asking that whoever makes these decisions please keep in mind that if you want more from us, we’re going to want more from you. And Director’s Cut Extras are not going to cut it.

Robert Kimmons
Owner
Brainstorm Movies, Comics and Gaming
1648 W. North Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
773-384-8721

What say you Legion of Spoilerites?  Did you help the economy this week by purchasing as many titles as you could get your hands on, or are you following along with Robert’s customers and slimming down your pull lists?

Robert Kimmons via Blog@Newsarama

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

Previous post

Obama Headed for Fifth Printing

Next post

New Comic Releases for February 4, 2009

19 Comments

  1. Ok
    February 2, 2009 at 12:05 pm — Reply

    I’m sad for Robert and his ilk. The only good news is that people will no longer buy stuff thats not good or they dont need. And that should help end the publishers creating (as much) crap.

    In the meantime, this is really only good news for BitTorrent. I’m sure the number of seeders will increase as more people start getting their fix there.

  2. Brother129
    February 2, 2009 at 12:11 pm — Reply

    Amen. Marvel doesn’t understand how much goodwill (and PUBLICITY) they’d generate if they slashed prices back to $2. I’ve been saying for years, that no one cares about fancy paper. What’s wrong with newsprint. Crappy art and a crappy story looks bad no matter what deluxe paper it’s printed on. You can’t have it both ways, if you’re going to charge more than give us something real in the way of extra story or meaningful back-up features. The increased prices has actually forced me to cut back on my pull list. The last time I did that was when I was broke and in college. If they keep this up we might be headed for the bottom of the market falling out again.

  3. nu
    February 2, 2009 at 12:37 pm — Reply

    to hell with marvel. im dc all the way

  4. Kurt Fenreer
    February 2, 2009 at 1:42 pm — Reply

    I haven’t had a Pull List in quite awhile. I have subscriptions to the Marvel Adventures books for my son, but if I don’t get another “half price” deal when the subscriptions run out, I probably won’t re-up on those. On my own part, the problem is partly monetary and partly a simple disgust for what the big two are trying to shovel down my throat. Between DC and their Endless Crisis to End All Crises Until The Next Crisis or Joey Q’s “You’ll buy what we want you to buy and you’ll like it” approach, I found myself less and less willing to continue buying books sight unseen and hoping they would get less lousy. After awhile, I found myself picking and choosing off the shelf, and more and more often, leaving the shop with nothing at all.

    Several weeks ago, my favorite comic shop went from a business to an empty storefront with a “Available For Lease” sign in the window. Last week, my back-up shop (everyone has one, right?) simply didn’t place his weekly order with Diamond and has plans to dump the shop and pick up a table at a flea market to sell his back issues. I don’t know if either were affected by Marvel’s pricing or Diamond’s policies, but I do know that their loss makes the market a bit smaller, and I know those two aren’t alone.

  5. Wirehead
    February 2, 2009 at 1:42 pm — Reply

    As long as the price of trades stay the same I don’t really care. I don’t like reading comics on a computer so bittorrent won’t work for me, and I don’t think anyone should download comics for free, price increase or not. I only get 10 Marvel ongoings a month and read the other stuff in trade format.

  6. The Dude
    February 2, 2009 at 1:56 pm — Reply

    I trimmed my pull list in half, and I’m not done yet. I went from reading roughly 30 books a month, to about 15 or 16 a month.

    I dropped all my Marvel books in favor of the trade, and replaced them more independent titles that need the support.

  7. hermit
    February 2, 2009 at 2:00 pm — Reply

    i buy far less Marvel and DC than i buy any other companies (considering Vertigo is its own entity). the price already got up a little bit on trades, but nobody noticed apparently.

    anyway, every stories Marvel put out suck balls anyway. except a selected few (go Brubaker, don’t let me down like Bendis did)

  8. sandgrounder
    February 2, 2009 at 2:15 pm — Reply

    What happened to economies of scale? When a title is selling 70/80,000 copies shouldn’t it actually be CHEAPER to produce than a title selling under 10,000?

  9. February 2, 2009 at 2:18 pm — Reply

    nu: the problem is that historically what happens to one happens to the other. They watch how much each other is making on items. Case in point: Marvel Masterworks were priced at $35 until DC was getting $50 for their Archives. Then MM went to $50 also.

    My problem is with the percent increase of 33%. I can justify a higher cost on items which require a license (Stephen King Dark Tower, etc) because there is an additional cost involved. I don’t know if the licensing justifies the $1 increase though.

    As a retailer I know this for sure – if you want to decrease sales – increase the cost. The larger the increase the steeper the decline in sales.

    If 33% is justified, then there are some cost cutting measures which should be enacted within Marvel instead (including lower salaries, fewer titles). It is time for the publishers to rethink their business model. Maybe they could release one Batman title a month which is 88 pgs of story which includes Batman, Detective, Robin, Nightwing for $6. This is perceived by the consumer as a price reduction, but it also saves DC money by printing one instead of four books.

    Marvel and DC both used to have lower cover prices than the indies because they sold in higher quantities and were filled with ads. There is no justification for them being higher.

  10. Falinor
    February 2, 2009 at 2:21 pm — Reply

    When I read a comic and notice that 40% of the pages are ads, I wonder why I am paying $2.99, let alone $3.99 for a book. Given that I am a DC reader, Marvel’s price increase will not affect me… immediately. Dimes to dollars that DC will follow suit. When that happens, I will start canceling tittles.

  11. February 2, 2009 at 2:41 pm — Reply

    The thing about it is, is that it’s not really about some drastic rise in the cost of paper or printing. It’s just not. Many writers who do work for the Big Two have explicitly said that the books these companies publish would still make a profit–not break even, but make an actual profit–even if the cover prices were reduced to $.50 per issue. The money that is made from the cost of the issue is not where the revenue is generated. The revenue is generated from the ad sales.

    And the way ads work is the bigger the consumer base, the more expensive the ad. Meaning that if the Big Two can promise its advertsiers a larger level of readership, they can require more for an ad in one of their books.

    Now, it seems to me that INCREASING the cost per book is not an effective business strategy when you’re dealing with an ad revenue generated business. DECREASING the cost per book seems like a better strategy to INCREASE readership, thereby INCREASING ad exposure, thereby INCREASING the revenue generated by said ads.

    So why raise the price of the book, right? Well, like I said, I’m not a business expert, so I honestly don’t know the exact reason. However, it may be a reaction to the lagging economy. A sudden increase in the cost of a product usually equates to a shot in the arm in terms of revenue. Seems pretty short sighted to me, though. If Marvel and DC want to weather this economic storm, I don’t think charging their readers more for the same product is a smart way to do that.

    All we can do is wait and see.

    • February 2, 2009 at 2:48 pm — Reply

      Josh, you make an excellent point about ads in the issues, and it was something I was just about to write about. Unfortunately, take a look at the ads in comics and see how many of them are house ads. House ads, means the company can’t sell ads to someone else, so the company inserts ads for its own products. The more house ads I see in comics the more I realize the company is on the downward slope because they can’t sell a hot dog ad to Oscar Meyer, and after all weiners and comics go hand in hand (so to speak – especially if you are reading Witchblade).

  12. February 2, 2009 at 3:32 pm — Reply

    @ Stephen Schleicher

    You raise a good point as well. I’m one that tends to not give the ads any attention, so I really haven’t noticed the shift from outisde ads to house ads. If that’s the case, than maybe the cover price increase IS part of Marvel’s long term strategies. That’s a scary thought, though.

    On a side note, I was excited about the new Agents of Atlas ongoing series debuting this week, but I just saw in the new comics post that Diamond is listing it as $3.99. I won’t be picking it up.

  13. ~wyntermute~
    February 2, 2009 at 4:24 pm — Reply

    Interesting stuff, to say the least… Here’s all I have to contribute to the discussion: WILL this really help BitTorrent? Remember, people do not get paid in anything but “prestige in the community” for uploading things… Add to that the notion that it takes loads of time (I presume, since scanning anything can be a pain in the butt) and now loads of money? I foresee a potential drop-off there too. Sure, people will want to get things for free, but it all depends on the charity of a very select few.

  14. Scaabs
    February 2, 2009 at 5:09 pm — Reply

    As I currently work in the printing industry I can pretty much garuntee that the cost of quality of the paper is not the reason for the price increase. The difference between glossy and newsprint is not enough to justify that kind of price spike(especially for DC and marvel who can more than afford it.) I agree with the idea that it is advertising. When a company is hurting one of the first things they cut back on is advertising. Maybe the better idea is to pay the writers and artists less, but I just dont know enough of the specifics to say, except that no book with a 3.99 price point (especially from marvel) will make it on my pull list.

  15. Crash
    February 2, 2009 at 6:12 pm — Reply

    I’ve known for some time that Marvel as well as other comics have been more and more finding reasons to push their price up to 3.99. That is fine with me but it does mean I have to slim down. I was reading just about every series that came out of the marvel 616 except maybe Runaways. I’ve now narrowed it down to Nova, Iron Fist, New Avengers, Avengers: The Initiative, and Mighty Avengers. This price increase simply means that all the books I go out an buy I’m simply now going to download instead. I simply can’t afford an extra $10 a week on comic titles that are not all that great.
    For this reasons I’ve been more and more leaning to DC as well as other smaller publishers like Avatar and IDW.
    I’m sad to say that my favorite line “Make Mine Marvel!” is now “Make Mine Marvel, If I Happen To Have An Exta $10 To Blow On Comics.”

  16. steviecool
    February 2, 2009 at 8:23 pm — Reply

    I still laugh at when I was a kid, I remember only having enough money for two comics and said, “when I get older and have a job, I’m going to be able to buy every comic book I want!”

    I still predict that they’ll start bundling titles. Kind of like a Superman Family Giant. Maybe 10 stories for $10. That way, even if you hate a title, you’ll be sucked in to buying the next issue.

  17. February 3, 2009 at 1:41 pm — Reply

    There is a point at which the retailer starts making less money if the price is reduced. You could drop the price of a comic to 50 cents, and since a retailer makes a percentage he makes a smaller amount on 50 cents. But he would presumably increase the qty of items sold. Presuming that the increase in sales was the exact amount for him to net the same amount of money, he has increased labor and cost of storage. But the hidden cost which would really cut into the retailers profit is the postage. It is fixed to the weight of the product, not its cost. My cost of postage per comic hovers at about 15 cents per comic (depending on how. So the cheaper a comic is, the higher the percentage that postage is. At 50 cents per issue, DC might still be profitable, but your local retailer won’t be.

    I’m not in support of this price increase, but I wanted to make you aware of a cost which the retailers pick up.

You know you have something to say, say it in the comment section