Fans and creators alike didn’t react well to the news last week that DC Comics is selling Batman #35, the beginning of the “Endgame” storyline, for $4.99, not $3.99. This announcement was made to comic-book retailers late last month.

Since that book has already been printed, it’s likely that when you arrive in your local comics shop this week, the issue will indeed sell for that higher price. Previously, even with back-up stories, Batman has cost $3.99.

Is this the beginning of a new upward trend in the cost of comics?

WHY IS DC DOING THIS?

On some levels, this change is pure economics.

Each issue of Batman during “Endgame” will contain 30 story pages in a 40-page issue and as such, the cover price will increase from $3.99 to $4.99 for the U.S. Standard Edition and $4.99 to $5.99 for the U.S. Combo Pack edition.

Now, comics these days are always solicited at least two months in advance. That means that this month’s #35, November’s #36 issue, and December’s #37 were solicited with the previous page count and cover price. However, these issues will be made returnable for retailers at a later date.

Your page count is up, you’ve got great talent producing what is being billed as the debut issue of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s next big “pivotal” story arc. Oh, and it is Batman’s 75th anniversary, too!

It is show business, after all.

REACTION

Marvel, DC Comics, Batman, Endgame, Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, newspaper, price, costRetailers weren’t happy about all this because their bill for Batman #35 will be higher than originally expected, with an extra dollar per copy ordered. As previously mentioned, they will be able to return it later, but one has to wonder just how many copies will actually go that route given Batman’s high-selling status.

Many fans were livid. After all, the higher the price on “must have” comics, the fewer books people who live within budgets can afford. Nearly all Marvel issues cost $3.99, so if you’re a Marvel fan who wants to sample a DC book, you’ve got to plan ahead.

With Batman selling for $4.99, the price many annuals are these days, comics buyers will have to really pick and choose what they’ll be buying when that title arrives in stores.

In other words, Batman may have lost some fans with this move. We’ll see.

SNYDER AND CAPULLO REACT

One thing that concerned me was that neither writer Scott Snyder nor artist Greg Capullo found out about this price change until everyone else did. I think they should have been informed about that much sooner.

According to their posts on Twitter, both creators approached DC, requesting that the price be returned to $3.99.

”Regarding the price point on Batman, @GregCapullo and I heard about it yesterday w/you, and quickly made a case to DC about reducing it. And I can genuinely (happily) say that DC are taking it very seriously, which we appreciate. Stay tuned,” Snyder tweeted.

“I don’t set the cover price on Batman. As Scott said, we asked DC to reverse it. Ultimately, I can only try to give you your money’s worth,” tweeted Capullo shortly after that.

At the time this is being written, DC has not responded. Since issue 35 has already been printed, it’s very likely at least that one will cost $4.99.

MOVING FORWARD

Look, we need to face facts. The comics industry is very likely going to have to raise the cover price for individual issues sometime soon to survive. In my opinion, DC did a great thing by “holding the line at $2.99,” but with the cost of paper and printing constantly rising, I feel this upward change is inevitable. There was some reaction to Marvel’s moving nearly all of their product to $3.99, but not the outcry some were expecting.

And these days, some books sell for $3.50 or other prices as well, so every company’s trying to figure out how to take in enough money to keep going.

I’ve been reading comics long enough to remember the price increase from ten to 12 cents an issue. After that, prices increased pretty steadily until we reach today’s structure.

The question is, how much will finally be too much to charge for a comic? In the past, I honestly thought nobody would pay $2.99 for an issue, yet that’s common today.

I used to work at a certain metropolitan newspaper in the Washington, DC, area. The common catchphrase they said to each other was, “every issue we print, we’re losing money.”

Looking at the newspaper/magazine industry, we just might be seeing the future of comics. I hope not, but for those of us who truly love the books, we may have to be ready to fork over more of our hard-earned shekels to continue reading comics.

It’ll be tough, but in my opinion, it’ll be worth it!

The Author

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall creates the Wayne's Comics Podcast. He’s interviewed Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, John Layman, Kyle Higgins, Phil Hester, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, David Petersen, Christos Gage, Mike Grell, and Matt Kindt. Each episode also includes reviews, news and previews. On this site each week, he writes his "Comics Portal" column (general comics comments and previews) and reviews comics.

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5 Comments

  1. HipHopHead
    October 6, 2014 at 10:50 am — Reply

    As good as the story/art has been by Snyder/Capullo, DC is being economically STUPID. Instead of the attempted cash grab with all the hoopla (75th anniversary, pivotal story, etc.), DC could have sold more books at $3.99 or even $2.99 AND may have kept some of the new readers (who picked it up for the hoopla). This price increase will erode more of their Batman purchasers, which may be offset by the dollar increase, but for how long

    I have only been picking up any of the New DCU52 titles via ComiXology sales @ $.99. I tried the most of the new DCU52 titles but dropped them all within 6 months. While I have been picking up the Marvel books @ $3.99 (discounted to $1.99 – $2.39) AND getting the digital without having to pay another dollar (hear that DC?)

  2. BigFan
    October 6, 2014 at 11:39 am — Reply

    I’m done buying comics by summer 2015. I just afford to buy a lot books anymore and the travel is unreal because my comic shop relocated
    all the way across town. When I started collecting comics were 65 cents and I kept collecting through all the price increases but now its getting out of hand. I stopped buying Marvel because of the trend of restarting series to #1 with each creative change. Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man have each had numerous restarts since 1997.

  3. October 6, 2014 at 11:54 am — Reply

    I will likely pick up an issue or two, but if $4.99 is the new permanent price point for DC’s books, I’m out.

    I won’t be buying ANY new titles at that price, and will likely be dropping a significant number of their other books that have been underwhelming as well.

  4. websnap
    October 6, 2014 at 12:13 pm — Reply

    Physical books should be 3.99 – across the board. Digital should be ¢99 – across the board. Those who want a tangible item should be paying the premium as that is where the costs are coming from (paper, printing, shipping). The digital version will see a major up tic in sales (due to the aggressive drop in price) and cover money lost from the dip in sale for print. There is a very real need for a physical copy for this niche in print – as opposed to say a magazine or a news paper. There is resale, collections – trade shows and the like. It really makes sense, but print is the WORST place to try to draw blood from a stone; reality sets in and people will just drop titles due to the cost. There is no overhead on digital aside from storage and that’s peanuts. You can’t sell digital copies, it’s difficult to lend to a friend and my digital version of a sought after rare issue will not have the resale value of the physical copy. This is the reason they should drop the price substantially on digital and use its sales to partial fund the print copies.

    This seems like a no brainer, please tell me where the downside would be?

    Also (like a phase two) how about digital subscriptions that are actually not insulting. A current digital subscription for just Batman could run as high as $54 (that’s not even counting this price bump) for nothing tangible. I’ll be able to buy the two trades those get split into for less than that plus hardcover bound and in a format I can lend to a friend (that may go out and buy their own; see above for a refresher).

    Digital is the answer for dropping prices on floppies.

    • Marko
      October 7, 2014 at 3:02 pm — Reply

      You have a lot of good points regarding the upward shift in digital media consumption, but I’d have to disagree on a few things. First, I think setting a firm price of $0.99 for a digital comic is too low. It’s great for consumers obviously, but it might actually hinder sales. Creating such a large difference in price might deter readers who strongly prefer physical media or digital.

      Also, by creating such a wide price gap, you’re punishing these hard copy readers simply because they have an old-fashioned preference. They might be tempted to purchase a digital copy because of the low price, but they might also skip it due to their strong preference for hard copy comics. supersedes the first option. DC could follow the price points for prose books, where Kindle/digital versions of novels or other books are a few dollars cheaper than the physical version. I think physical comics should be set at $3.99 and digital comics should start at a maximum of $2.99.

      On the other hand, we could disregard all of that and have DC follow Marvel’s sales model. Why not include a redemption code in each issue to claim a free digital copy of the same book? Just like when you buy a CD or vinyl album, a code is included to redeem a digital version at no extra cost.

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