Is DC’s Drawing the Line at $2.99 making a difference?

Drawing the Line at $2.99 Artwork DC

Times should be good at DC Entertainment headquarters.  Young Justice and Batman: The Brave & The Bold cartoons are being well received by kids and geeks worldwide.  The Green Lantern film is set for launch. On the publishing side, Brightest Day just finished up and Flashpoint, their big event of 2011, looms. So why do I get the feeling that it might not be all smiles, particularly the publishing division?

Let’s roll back the clock a bit to October 2010.  There was a lot of consternation among fans about the price hikes on single issues from a standard $2.99 price to $3.99, at a time when the economy wasn’t on solid footing and the direct market for comics was struggling already to entice a new generation of readers.  But rather than whistle into the wind, newly minted co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio decided to do something about the complaints…they announced that all standard length DC comics would be rolled back to $2.99 starting in January.

I wrote an article at the time asking if $2.99 comics would really sell better than $3.99 comics.  To his credit, Jim Lee issued a challenge to readers (in his interview with Comics Alliance) – imploring them to prove that the price rollback really mattered in the grand scheme of things.

 
This is something [the fans] are asking for, and we want them to show us that it does mean something. Because really, the conventional wisdom up till this point have been that the fans will pay whatever it takes to buy their favorite comics, and I think there's a certain amount of cynicism in that. And I think it ultimately leads to the destruction of our business because you can't just keep asking people to buy more and more expensive books, especially in a down economy like we're experiencing.
 
Now with almost four months of “Drawing the Line at $2.99” under our belts, what do the early returns say about DC’s plan?  Have fans shown DC (and by proxy the rest of the industry) that $2.99 matters?  Let’s dig into the Diamond data (with a special thanks to John Jackson Miller and the Comic Chronicles for providing the data in an easily digestible form) and take a look for ourselves:
 
Last 3 Months Pre “Drawing the Line at $2.99”
 
Share of Overall Units (Single Issue Sales)
 
 Publisher
 Oct-10   
 Nov-10
 Dec-10
  Average
 Marvel
 35.70%
39.81%
38.92%
38.14%   
 DC
 31.67%
 37.10%
 36.99%
 35.25%
 Image
   4.52%
  4.32%
   3.44%
   4.09%
 Dark Horse
5.09%
3.37%
3.38%
3.95%
 IDW
5.92%
3.81%
4.49%
4.74%
 Dynamic Forces
2.44%
3.54%
2.33%
2.77%
 Boom!
2.28%
1.78%
1.79%
1.95%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
First 3 Months Post "Drawing the Line at $2.99"
 
Share of Overall Units (Single Issue Sales)
 
 Publisher
 Jan-11
 Feb-11
 Mar-11
  Average
 Marvel
 42.37%
 45.13%
45.28%
44.26%   
 DC
 31.80%
 31.48%
 31.50%
 31.59%
 Image
   6.45%
   4.80%
   5.09%
   5.45%
 Dark Horse
4.60%
4.14%
4.14%
4.29%
 IDW
3.70%
3.49%
2.86%
3.35%
 Dynamic Forces
2.51%
3.14%
2.74%
2.80%
 Boom!
1.80%
1.62%
1.66%
1.69%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Observation:  In the first three months of "Drawing the Line…" DC's unit share has fallen from 35.3% to 31.6% (down 3.7%) , while Marvel's share is running 44.3% from 38.1% (plus 6.2%) in the prior quarter.  While Marvel has also quietly rolled back some of its pricing, it certainly hasn't been as resolute. Yet, in terms of units sold into the direct market, DC doesn't appear to be gaining any share. In fact, it looks as though it's lost a bit of share.

When you consider that overall comic sales are down this year, it's a sobering realization that the $2.99 rollback doesn't appear to be having much impact.  How do we reconcile the near universal condemnation of $3.99 pricing with the data which argues that DC's $2.99 stance isn't being rewarded? Here are three possibilities:

1) Hardcore buyers really don't care — If you look at the top of the Diamond charts in any given month, it's tough to discern. In March, nine of the top 20 comics were $3.99.  In February, 11 of the top 20 were $3.99.  In January, 12 books in the top 20 were $3.99, one was $4.99, and 7 were $2.99. You get the picture.  Whereas buyers may be buying FEWER comics as prices go up, they're not explicitly choosing to buy $2.99 comics over $3.99 alternatives.

2) Lost readers haven't returned — While it's a noble effort to see DC answer the bell and roll prices back, it may have been too little, too late.  In a collector driven hobby like comic books, if you drive a customer away, it's much harder to get them back.  Chances are it took a lot for them to throw in the towel, and rolling prices back isn't going to be an overnight tonic.

3) $2.99 is no different than $3.99 for prospective new readers – We've discussed this many times before, but comic books are a luxury item and, in terms of cost per minute of entertainment, pricey against alternatives like Netflix or DVD sales or a novel, etc… While we long-time fans are more than happy to pay higher prices to keep up with our passions, it's a lot harder to convince new buyers of the value proposition. I'm not sure a new buyer sees $2.99 for 22 pages of story as much better value than they did $3.99.

Let's be clear. The jury is still out. Three months is admittedly a short period of time to draw any major conclusions, and I would imagine DC is prepared to give their "Drawing the Line" strategy more time.  But early returns are hardly inspiring.  Back in October, I asked "what happens if the rollback has no effect?" and said:

 
So what if DC sales don’t rebound? What if Marvel’s market share lead stays intact, or worse yet grows further? What then? I will tell you that we consumers aren’t going to like the answer. If sales don’t bounce back, and demonstrably, I think we’ll see DC (and Marvel to a lesser extent) take other initiatives to right size their publishing businesses. I think we’ll see greater emphasis on digital distribution, smaller publishing lines, and perhaps even more Draconian measures. So while it’s perfectly natural to be surprised and happy at this turn of events, it’s only going to matter if we follow through on the sales front. What Marvel and DC (and ultimately we as comic book fans) need to hope is that you can easily get back what you’ve already lost. I’m not so sure history argues in favor of that.
 
Here's hoping I'm proven wrong, and soon.
 

UPDATE (5/12/2011): Diamond has released the sales numbers for April and it looks like the trend continues. Sales overall were down year-on-year, but less so than the abysmal first quarter.  The Comics Chronicles puts preliminary market share at 37.95% for Marvel (units) vs. 26.89% for DC.


 
 

Jason is a mutant with the ability to squeeze 36 hours into every 24-hour day, which is why he was able to convince his wife he had time to join the iFanboy team on top of running his business, raising his three sons, and most importantly, co-hosting the 11 O'Clock Comics podcast with his buddies Vince B, Chris Neseman and David Price. If you are one of the twelve people on Earth who want to read about comics, the stock market and football in rapid fire succession, you can follow him on Twitter.

Comments

  1. player1 player1 says:

    I had already heavily skewed my buying towards Marvel and the Avengers, but the few books I was getting from DC either changed creative teams, didn’t wow me, or ended up getting cancelled. For the few remaining titles, like THUNDER Agents, The Spirit and iZombie (and the remaining issues of All-Stars) it has been really nice. Because of my limited budget and Avengers slant, the only one of those books that wouldn;t cancelled for an increase would be THUNDER Agents, but it would have to include more content, too. Oh and I buy the Hitch Batman when it’s done.

    It hasn’t made me rush to order books I wouldn’t have ordered anyway. 

  2. I know that I’m more willing to try 2.99 books, but so far I’ve not really found any DC 2.99 books that really interest me or I thought were very good, so the price is irrelevant.  I think the only DC 2.99 books I’ve added are a couple of Batman books.  

    So my question is, could it be a quality thing as well?  That DC just is not putting out that many quality 2.99 books? 

  3. electricv01 electricv01 says:

    Very interesting.  See, to me price is a factor in what I buy, but so is quality.  I have picked up and tried a few new titles because the price point wasn’t $3.99, but these titles were Thunderbolts and Avenger Academy from Marvel.  And I kept reading them because they were excellent.  But, other than the awesome Batgirl book, I haven’t really tried anything new (despite being a bigger DC fan than Marvel).  Also I have dropped a couple DC titles (Superman, Wonder Woman, Gotham City Sirens, Teen Titans to name a few), simply because I was not enjoying the story.  $2.99 is still to expensive if I’m not having fun on a title.  

    Also I’m not interested at all in Flashpoint, so I will be buying less DC books in the near future because most are connecting to this event.   

  4. AmirCat AmirCat says:

    Maybe it’s seasonal. We should compare January, Feb, and March ’10 to January, Feb, and March ’11. Also, market share is important. Are there less books being sold?

  5. electricv01 electricv01 says:

    @electricv01   ”But, other than the awesome Batgirl book, I haven’t really tried anything new from DC”  that should say.  Sorry.

  6. TemporalBeef TemporalBeef says:

    22 pages isn’t a whole lot for 3 bucks, you’re right Jason.  I’d love to see the bigger publishers consolodate a family of books (Unc. X-Men, Wolverine, X-Force for example) and publish their current month’s stories into one big issue ala Shonen Jump or other similar manga anthologies and price it at $6.99. Bulk printing these stories into a format like this could be a little more cost effective on their end, meaning more bang for our buck on ours.  And a book that big and heavy with all of that wonderful content might feel more worth the money when it’s in someone’s hands.

  7. Endlessw Endlessw says:

    unless comics go 99 cent lost reads will not come back. people will pirate and or trade before going back.

    if you are buying issues now YOU ARE HARDCORE INTO COMICS. we are like the guying you go on ESPN to look at how their College team is doing with Highschool recruiting.

  8. Jason Wood Wood says:

    @AmirCat  Yes, less books are being sold. DC is getting a smaller piece of a smaller pie. Not sure how someone could look at the early data and point to it in a positive light in terms of DC’s $2.99 policies. I didn’t include the DOLLAR share data, which as you might suspect is even more pronounced. To give you an idea, DC had 34% of total dollars in Oct/Dec and that fell to 27.3% in Jan/March.

    Seasonality does play a role, but realistically unless you think Flashpoint is going to demonstrably outsell Fear Itself, I don’t think it’s helping DC at least for the next few months.

  9. spaceghost15 spaceghost15 says:

    The 2.99 made it easier for me to try out Zatanna and Green Arrow. Both of which I still read now. And it also made my planned purchase list of Flashpoint titles a bit bigger.

  10. JNewcomb JNewcomb says:

    Wood, I’m about to express a criticism. I do not mean it in a malicious way. I have great respect for your articles especially in regards to the business of comics books. However, I’m not comfortable that you tentatively draw a correlation between the unit sales drop and the price hold. Seems to me there are many other factors at play here other than price. For instance, Marvel has a lot more heat on their character brands right now than DC does. Zooming in on one factor offers a rather narrow view of the situation.

    I’m not saying there is no reason for alert in terms of price, and to be fair you do say that three months is not nearly enough to time to draw conclusions. But by that statement you admit that really we don’t yet know how cover price affects sales. So I’m left scracthing my head at what this article really is about and what you’re really trying to say.

  11. BBretall BBretall says:

    I like that DC has been “holding the line”, & don’t think they’ll raise the price across the board when the 1 year commitment to the $2.99 price is up.

    What they probably will (and should) do is raise the price on all the Batman books that people seem to buy regardless.  Just like Marvel has been able to sell it’s Bendis/Avengers, Cap, Iron Man, etc for $3.99 with impunity.

    For popular books that the fans want, they are going to buy them regardless of the price tag (within reason).   It’s the middle of the road books that won;t hold at the higher prices.

  12. genelaw9 genelaw9 says:

    or

    4) The new price has brought in more readers, but DC has lost others due to a dip in quality.

    Still reading:  Detective, THUNDER Agents, Xombi, Batman Inc.

    Dropped:  JLA, Flash, Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corp, Batman and Robin, Superman.

    Price had nothing to with the drops, only qulality.  If there is a new Justice League International coming out, I will try it (loved JL Gen Lost), but there isn’t anything else that is exciting me at DC right now.

  13. Jason Wood Wood says:

    @JNewcomb Fans are reactive. I could’ve written a 5,000 word analysis where we looked at sales on a book to book basis (comparing $3.99 books that were then lowered to $2.99, etc…) and the data wouldn’t show any improvement.  While I agree 100% that lots of factors influence sales, DC’s sales are not improving inclusive of all those things.

    If you want to argue that DC would be losing even more share if they hadn’t lowered their prices, I can’t tell you you’re wrong. But that’s an even bleaker assertion, particularly if you’re a DC employee, no?
     

  14. It comes down to quality. I’ve always been a DC guy first, but over the past few months the amount of DC books that have been keeping my interest and making me excited about comics has dwindled down to maybe one or two. If the product isn’t good, i don’t care if its .99 cents…i’m not gonna buy it. Conversely, all my top of the stack favorite books are coming from Marvel right now and while that extra dollar does make my budget a little bit tighter, my enjoyment factor with the books is what matters. 

    The price does matter for me in theory. I’m more willing to try and stick with a new 2.99 book than i am a 3.99 book. 

    BTW. if Marvel thinks they have carte blanche to raise prices to $4.99 i’ll just buy the trades…used. 

  15. JNewcomb JNewcomb says:

    @Wood  Thank you for expounding.

  16. CGPO CGPO says:

    I wonder if there was something coming out in November and December that saw that spike, because October sales were about the same as Jan-March.  Also, it is said to admit that DC books just aren’t that good right now.  The only comics I’m buying of there’s (that isn’t Vertigo) is Detective Comics and Batman Inc, everything else just doesn’t interest me all that much.  Whereas I seem to always hear myself saying “that sounds kinda cool” when learning about a new Marvel series.  I don’t necessarily buy them, but more Marvel titles seem to be picquing my interest than DC ones, and part of the problem I think is Marvel has better and more interesting creators on their titles right now.  From Jason Aaron to the new exclusive Nick Spencer, Marvel snatches good writers up quickly whereas DC seems to be hiring a lot of old-school writers lately.  Scott Snyder is the one exception to that, and funny enough, his is the one DC comic book I’m interested in.

  17. nastysnow nastysnow says:

    Being more of a marvel fan than dc they can drop the price of the books to 1.99 and I still would only get the 8 dc books and the majority of my books would still be marvel that’s just bad buisness to drop the price oif your books when your the number two company and think that that’s gonna get you ahead for dc fans which a lot of my friends are I hope they don’t raise the price up but if they do it won’t afect my buying habits make mine marvel

  18. DuncanIdunno DuncanIdunno says:

    I mail order my comics at about 25-30% off the cover price – plus it saves on paying my state’s jive ass 8% sales tax – so price hasn’t been the MAIN issue. I just don’t like having a story hijacked across two or three titles – something Disney does WAY more of than DC (imo – mouseketeers!).
    If I only have to buy one book a month to get the story I want, the $1.00 difference doesn’t matter. Other than DC, I buy a good bit of “indie” books, but they stand alone regardless of being $2.99,$3.50, or $3.99.

  19. OliverTwist OliverTwist says:

    I think it’s to early to tell the impact, given the events and momentum in a lot of the comic books. I consider myself a hardcore fan since I have collected comics since the 80′s. It depends on the budget,. I have been willing to stick out a 2.99 book as opposed to a 3.99, based on affordability alone.

    Based on my previous experience of taking a break from comics it took a while to return. It was a result of a price hike as well.  Fans as well as myself were out of the loop, and weren’t conveniently located near a comic shop.

     I know I have stuck with Wonder Woman, and moved from collecting Scalped as a trade to issues and maintaining that monthly purchase.

  20. Blank says:

    This post from Kurt Busiek at CBR is my favorite summary of comic prices.

  21. apoptosis81 apoptosis81 says:

    Great post as always Wood. Do you think DC’s sales would be helped if they began publishing Spongebob Squarepants comics?

  22. BBretall BBretall says:

    @Blank -> good quote from Busiek:
    “They may go buy their DVDs wherever the price is lowest, but if what they want is AVATAR, they’re looking for the best price on AVATAR. They’re not likely to figure TRAINING DAY will hit the spot because it’s cheaper.”

    Same for comics.  If fans want Spider-Man, The Avengers, Cap, Iron Man, Thor, X-Men.   They are not going to buy Flash & Teen Titans because they cost less.

  23. I’m one of the few guys that started reading comics(EVER, not counting some VERY few Disney) only a few years ago and what got me into it, were Supreme Power and Civil War… as an illegal CBR-Torrent! I was hooked and scans of older stories and reading them on the screen just sucked, so I started reading trades, buying them over amazon. There’s gotta be about 5000Euro in my collection since then.

    I never thought about it, but point #3: The “3.99$ or 2.99$ for 22-pages doesn’t make a difference for new possible readers it’s all overpriced”, that was exactly what I was thinking when I was younger and my best friend was reading Spawn. The price for the content was totally ridiculous to mee, maybe I would have read a superhero BOOK(as in no pictures), I loved Superheros, just not comics.

    Thinking about point #3… this really changes my view on “getting new readers”. Maybe you FIRST have to HOOK them, before you get any money out of a new reader and if I were 16 and making close to no money, then I wouldn’t start at all, even if they already almost managed to hook me – having money only for a FEW stories and not everything I like, that’s not me. All I love or nothing <-which btw is why to me 2.99$ or 3.99$ doesn’t really matter, they could bleed me dry, if the quality’s right.

  24. mrlogical mrlogical says:

    Interesting stuff, thanks @Wood.  A few questions/comments–

    –As others have noticed, quality is a (the?) primary consideration driving comic purchases.  Presumably a 3% drop in units sold is not attributable to lower cost but rather to quality or other factors affecting purchasing decisions.  Of course, the problem is that DC had hoped that lower cost would lead to more units sold.  Is it conceivable that, but for the price drop, it would have been a 5+% drop?  I don’t think this can be ruled out.  Looking at January thru March 2010 data to see if comparing like months makes a difference, I saw that DC’s unit share in February 2010 were at 35.76%, but in March 2010 dropped to 29.2%.  Whatever the reason was for that drop, it shows that a 6% month-to-month drop is certainly not unthinkable.  A larger sample size would help, so perhaps after a full year we might have a better idea.

    –Lower costs of DC books may still have caused purchasers to purchase more books, but perhaps just not DC books.  Perhaps the extra chunk of change in buyers’ pockets went to more experimental picks, grabbing an indie books.  Or, even worse for DC, maybe the reason Marvel grabbed more market share was, buyers with more cash from cheaper DC books just used their savings to buy another pricey $3.99 Marvel book they had previously left alone.  Comics fans might still buy more books when given lower prices, but they may not be any more loyal to any one publisher than they were before.

    –How reliable is this sales data?  I’ve heard countless creators say in interviews that the data we fans get is totally bogus, and basically worthless.  How meaningful do you think this data set is?  I would expect that even if the overall numbers aren’t totally correct, the general proportions could still be more or less accurate, but I don’t have any way of knowing.

    –Do we have an idea of how many books Marvel and DC published in these months?  Given the small sample size, and that this is looking at percentage of units sold, I would expect that the number of books each publisher put out in these months may be a significant factor in their market shares.  If Marvel’s output in terms of number of titles increased relative to DC’s output over this time, that might also play a large role in Marvel’s increasing share of units sold.  If Marvel and DC both put out 20 books in December, but Marvel puts out 20 to only 10 from DC in January, it would be hard to expect that DC would sell a greater percentage of books in January.  Perhaps both companies put out more or less the same number of books throughout, but I’d be curious to see.

    This is an interesting and informative look at what’s been going on in sales for the last 6 months, and raises good questions about how much, if any, impact DC’s price reduction has had on DC’s market share.  I suspect we need a lot more information to draw any firm conclusions about what is happening and why.  I would be very happy if DC proceeds under the assumption that producing high quality products at prices lower than their competition will ultimately make them more money.  I’d be even happier if they are ultimately proved correct.  I’ll be curious to watch how this plays out.  I’m hopeful that DC’s marketing has tied its hands for now with respect to pricing–to spend this much time trumpeting 2.99, one would think they can’t make the decision to go back to 3.99 lightly.

  25. mrlogical mrlogical says:

    Oh shit, that looks way longer now that I clicked submit.  Now I feel like I’m a crazy person.  Oh well.

  26. Metamorphic Metamorphic says:

    I’m a hardcore DC buyer these days and have been extremely happy to see the $2.99. I definitely bought some books I might not have otherwise and have stuck with others that I was considering dropping due to budget.

    A question: doesn’t Marvel put out a lot more titles than DC month-to-month? Maybe that’s just a perception thing but I always feel like the Marvel section of stores is a bit bigger. And if you have more products to sell, seems to me you’re going to probably do bette on the sales charts.

  27. abstractgeek says:

    i dont think the quality issue (if it really is an issue) will turn around much with the lower price. remember, to lower the price, DC cut 2 pages, which means less money for people paid by the page. Also royalties are based on a % of cover price which means the creative team makes less in royalties than for a comparably selling title at marvel. It’s much harder to attract top talent by paying them less. Even new talent once they show their stuff will get snatched away by more $$. Dc keeps Geoff Johns by giving him a cushy executive position with salary, benefits, bonus etc. They They probably pay Morrison with mana or something to keep him.

  28. s1lentslayer s1lentslayer says:

    While it may not mean more sales maybe it at least endeared more fans to DC with the sentiment of keeping prices low. It didn’t make me buy more DC but on the other hand it has prevented me from buying Marvel books priced at 3.99.

  29. Sergiot0831 Sergiot0831 says:

    WHAT THE HELL? I’m going to college so I can only work part-time. I have a fixed comic budget and the 2.99 prices let me get a few more books every month! ARE YOU TRYING TO SCREW ME OVER!!! If dc wants to sell their books for less, let them!

  30. jsbigman says:

    For me the price drop has helped.  I had to cut my comics budget in half over the past few months and the $2.99 an issue price for DC saved alot of those titles (mainly Batman titles) from the chopping block.  I still eventually read all I want from borrowing from my buddies collections, but am buying only ASM from Marvel.

  31. Impossibilly Impossibilly says:

    I know I’m only sample size of one, but the new series that I have been trying out lately and getting hooked on are $2.99 books from DC & Image, despite growing up a Marvel Zombie. My number of Marvel titles are at their lowest point ever; unless I’m 5-starring a book month after month, I have a hard time justifying the $3.99 price point to myself.

  32. PraxJarvin PraxJarvin says:

    The vast majority of my pull list is from DC and the price drop has allowed me to pick up more books. Whereas, I’m more selective of Marvel and more willing to drop books over minor quality declines than I am of DC. The $4 price tag isn’t the steepest, I know, but Marvel cancels series quicker than they come out of late, and I’d rather not waste $4 an issue for a series that’s going to be cancelled 7 issues in. Or is retroactively made into a mini.

  33. ericwilder ericwilder says:

    I just havent been compeled by their storylines in the last few months.

  34. trobinson79 trobinson79 says:

    Price drop has helped for me too since I’ve been collecting more DC books in the last 2 years.  But I can definitely see a combination of the down economy, less ROI on 2.99 books in terms of printing and shipping costs and more Marvel brand awareness because of their movies and well-marketed characters being big factors in why DC is not cutting more into Marvel’s market share.

    Honestly, I never once imagined that lowering prices would get many new readers in or immensely increase DC sales.  They have to realize that we’re in an internet age now where we  get a quick fix of entertainment for cheap/free (Youtube, Netflix, etc.).  Asking new readers to put down 2.99 a book is not going to be enough – there’s other areas that need to be tapped (marketing, digital, etc.) that can coerce them to thinking that buying print books is good. 

  35. FoeApple FoeApple says:

    I believe the 2.99 helps no matter what, that said im from canada so i already have to pay extra for most of it anyways. It may not seem like it by sales (maybe because people weren’t as into the storys DC had at the moment) or there are just a higher set of marvel fans. But in the long run its always a benifit to have a fair price then to have a some what higher price that builds up FAST!

  36. dkbrain dkbrain says:

    Need more data over a longer period of time to properly analyze.  Many DC titles seem cold, which could skew data.

  37. kmob181 kmob181 says:

    I added Xombi and Hellblazer as a result of this policy.  Then again I also ignored my better instincts and added the $3.99 Journey into Mystery and X-Force in the same time period (although as I am abroad and have yet to read an issue of either I could end up cancelling one or both upon my return).  These were the first regular (as in monthly) $3.99 books I have ever added.  At the end of the day I love Vertigo and this helped me expand my already ample Vertigo purchases but for my superhero types I am far more Marvel.  Which begs the question as to whether the $2.99 policy has helped Vertigo books even if it hasn’t helped DC overall?

  38. ericmci ericmci says:

    A Fourth possibility- comic sales are down period- 
    DC stories aren’t attracting readers right now anyway and if the same pool of buyers had to shell out and additional dollar per book- DC sales would be even worse.

     

  39. I think Busiek nailed it. In order for DC to see a real profit increase, their average reader would have to buy double the books. Thats not happening realistically. I think i fall into his hypothetical scenario..yes i’ve enjoyed the savings which has enabled me buy more comics within my weekly budget, but that isn’t always a DC book. In fact i’d say it rarely is, because in the past few months i’ve been finding myself buying more Marvel and some Indies since I have “extra money” each week. So i’m spreading my money around a bit, but its not going to DC. 
    Also i think their “Drawing the Line” logo, ad campaign and in store merch was very weak (concept, design, execution) and giant missed opportunity for cross-promotions that might help draw in new readers or promote books that could be purchased with the savings. 
  40. brassai2003 brassai2003 says:

    Price points mean nothing if you can’t deliver your books on time:
    Flash: late
    Dark Knight (Finch): Late or MIA
    Batwoman: MIA
    Batman Europa: MIA.
    Sorry, but, as a DC reader, I’m fed up with the late books or some not arriving at all. I mean, if I subscribe to a magazine I love and it’s delayed 2-3 months, I’m done.
    When you bring this up at cons, you get the snark and chuckle of Dan DiDio and co. Despite their “2.99″ DC has no respect for their readers. In the end we’re customers, right? At least Marvel they respect their fans enough to get shit done on time.
    the only thing I read in DC is Detective (which if you’re not reading, you’re missing what could be an epic run), Hellblazer (which is on time every month, but is still out of the mainstream unfortunatly) and …..well that’s about it.

  41. TheMaster TheMaster says:

    Here’s an observation: Marvel puts out twice as many books as DC does, so they are going to sell more books, and their market share is skewed towards x-titles and avengers minis that hardcore fans are going to buy at that 3.99 price.

    I was dropping ten titles this winter, and the price break for me meant that most of the dropped titles came from M arnel and I kept the lower priced DC’s. So from that viewpoint, DC held onto my readership for marginal titles while Marvel lost twenty bucks a month.

    I never thought the day would come when I said DC’s quality and writing were trumping Marvel’s, but I’m saying it now.

  42. Neb Neb says:

    @brassai2003  Delays are cyclical depending on creators.  Go back to Marvel when Civil War was going on, and people were saying that Marvel sucked because they couldn’t put anything out on time and DC was the only reliable companyl.  That was an event book that was hella delayed.  There’s also plenty of Marvel titles that are delayed as well.  They just might not happen to be books that you read.

    These are interesting stats for sure, and it’ll be interesting to look at the long term.  I think because Marvel puts out so much product that DC will always have an uphill battle.

  43. IroncladMerc says:

    If they want to increase sales, they need to be releasing comics day and date digitally for 99 cents. That’s the magic price point to get massive sales. And promote the crap out of it so people know it’s there.

  44. Zarathos81 Zarathos81 says:

    The only DC related titles I read are the Fables books. But with this lower price I have been more willing to check out some of their other titles.
    Releasing them digitally doesn’t mean a thing to me, personally, I would rather actually own a comic if I’m going to pay for it.

  45. RoiVampire RoiVampire says:

    i tell you this, marvel lowering the price on a lot of their mini’s to 2.99 got me to pick up more minis and that means more marvel books in my stack

  46. zombox zombox says:

    Hint to DC: make better books. This strikes me as very similar to the console wars in video games. If X costs 100 and Y costs 150. Which do consumers buy? The answer is and has been, as proven by statistics, the one that has the most access to the highest selling games. DC has been stumbling since Blackest Night and has not had a cohesive plan. I think that shows as Marvel has had a much smoother time handling its scheduling and transitions.

  47. krooze krooze says:

    For me the major difference is that I’ll add a book to my pull list if it’s $2.99. If it’s $3.99 I either won’t, or I’ll drop another $3.99 book to make room. It’s false economy I know, and my monthly spending has gone up, but so has my percentage of DC books. So from that perspective it’s worked. 

  48. robbydzwonar robbydzwonar says:

    All I know is the second they go back up to $3.99, I’m going all trades all the way.  The only Marvel book I buy is Punisher MAX and I will most likely switch over after this arc wraps up.

  49. The price drop convinced me to start reading Snyder’s Detective run, but I have been reading a lot less comics in general. I picked up Jonah Hex and Xombi, but I’m as far as DC Super Hero Comics I’m just reading Detective Comics and Flashpoint. The only marvel books I’m reading are PW/IF and Punisher MAX
    It’s really that my tastes have changed. Also, there are some things I find wrong with comics that even a price drop won’t fix

  50. NawidA NawidA says:

    The thing is DC never went to $4 in the first place save for a few titles (for a 22 page book at least).

    I think the more interesting story may be how Marvel gained marketshare.

    As for the quality arguement, eh, the quality of comics is better now than ever.  The Busiek quote is really damn accurate though (and it’s not about quality, it’s about supply and demand).

    The direct market is doomed. Bad comic shops will go out of business, some good ones as well, but ones that can adapt will succeed. And Marvel and DC will continue shrinking as their readers do unless they change radically (which they won’t). Right now, we’re already in the dying phase (which is why Marvel is just trying to get as much money as possible out of whatever readers they have left). 

  51. Multihuller Multihuller says:

    I’m a DC fan, I’ll admit it’s quality…not the price. Hate to rag on the guy, but I really think Didio and Lee must be fucking up, because DC just seems to lack any direction. Sure, most of the mid level DC books suck. However, my main complaint is that they have a tendency to either change creative teams just as a book gets good… or suffer delays on a book that has no business being late.

    Also, something that should not be over looked, Marvel is making some really fun and exciting books right now. I’ll pay a dollar more for a kickass Hickman book over JT Krull’s dull Green Arrow book. Making lame crap a dollar cheaper… is just cheaper lame crap. 

  52. JNewcomb JNewcomb says:

    Many are saying DC’s books aren’t good but I’ve dropped all Marvel in favor of DC. I think their stuff is great!

  53. dfstell says:

    I always thought the complaining about the price was a little imprecise.  The true issue is whether we are getting appropriate VALUE for our money.  That’s a personal judgement that each fan has to make themselves because there is nothing magical about any of these prices.  It was an interesting experiement by DC to see if they could produce the same quality (although 2 pages shorter) at a lower price and see if that increased fans’ value perception.

    I really tried a bunch of new DC titles (for me) because they were cheaper and now, 6 months later I’m actually reading less DC than I was before because I haven’t kept ANY of the titles I sampled and dropped a few that I was previously enjoying like Batman & Robin.

    The other thing that would be useful to see is how the pricing change has affected single title’s sales.  Is Batman & Robin up or down with the price change?  I know they all trend downwards, but is the delta less than a $3.99 Marvel book.  

    My perception is that at this time, Marvel has continued to pump out even more titles onto the market while DC has cut back a little bit.  I’d bet this is due to some more macro-level competitive forces. 

  54. j206 j206 says:

    Reason #3 is HUGE. Even at $3, that’s a lot of money in today’s entertainment world. 22 pages, or say roughly 15-20 min of entertainment for $3-4? That’s on par with paying that much for a single 30 min episode of a television sitcom. I don’t know too many people out there who would pay $3 for an episode of 30 Rock. Heck, I don’t even know people who would pay that much for an hour long drama episode. The current comic price, be it $3 or $4, doesn’t make sense in today’s entertainment world to non-long-time comic fans. Not at all.

  55. gruvenreuven gruvenreuven says:

    So it appears we are using the extra money we are saving from our DC book to buy Marvel books.  1/2 :-)

  56. ccarney ccarney says:

    @IroncladMerc  i agree

    At the local Bookamillion they are selling trades of JMS Thor run like hotcakes. Stacks of them are flying off the shelves. Next to them are Cap and Green Lantern trades, So the mass market will buy whats popular in culture right now. I know that it does lead to some sales. I have friends who got into comics after Iron Man and The Dark Knight Returns and are still in. I know they like the 2.99 price point better and so they buy more DC books. My local shop sales more DC than Marvel anyway. I seem to find more DC in my pull pile than Marvel these days. Though with Generations Lost and Brighest Day wrapping up that is 2 less books from DC that I buy. I know that when JLI comes out that I will pick it up but nothing else looks that good right now.
    Over at Marvel they are going to nickel and dime me on all the Cap books coming out, so I will have to be paticular.

  57. froggulper says:

    Jason,

    In those charts you’re looking at PERCENTAGE not actual units.

    In the build-up to Fear Itself, Marvel has simply been putting out more comics, period.

    They’ve also been putting out .1 issues and double-shipping many titles per month.

    DUH.

    So of course Marvel’s % share is going to go up! And of course, because of that, everyone else’s % is going to go down.

    You listed all the other publishers, but didn’t bother to note that all of their %s fell as well (except for Image, a company that’s doing great things recently).

    I actually agree with you on many of your points, but the “hard facts” that you sometimes use to illustrate those points don’t really say what you want them to say.

    I agree that the “Drawing the Line at $2.99″ was kind of uneventful. Few of DC’s regular-sized comics were more than $2.99 in the first place.

    In the long run, if DC didn’t take this initiative and advertise it, then perhaps things could have gotten worse for them. If nothing else, it’s bought DC a lot of good will amongst fans. I like DC as a company more than I like Marvel, and part of that is due to Marvel’s insistence on gouging me for 3.99 every chance they get.

    But, please, you say you’re good with statistics and obviously take some time to put things like this together. So please think about what other factors could be influencing what you think you’re seeing. In order to statistically prove anything with this stuff, you’d need way more figures. Most helpful would be actual sales numbers for specific DC titles that show the effect of the 2.99 initiative. You’d also have to look at what Marvel’s doing, since the 2000-pound gorilla in the room is obviously going to influence everyone else’s relative percentage in everything. That’s why percentages don’t really tell us much on this topic.

  58. Jason Wood Wood says:

    @froggulper No arguments, but I thought those dances were already done by a different set of people. There are detailed analysis of the monthly sales numbers each month by folks like John Jackson Miller, John Mayo, the ICV2 guys, and others. The overall pie has shrunk of late, and if you can find me examples of DC books that went from $3.99 to $2.99 and saw a noticeable bump in sales, I’ll tip my cap.

    http://www.comicsbeat.com/2011/04/12/dc-month-to-month-sales-february-2011/

     

  59. Jason Wood Wood says:

    Also, sometimes I think people ascribe more to an article than intended. I’m asking the question, and restating an assertion I made six months ago. I would LOVE to be shown data that suggests I’m wrong. Honestly. There’s nothing I would like more than to see $2.99 comics growing and $3.99 comics suffering. Because it would not only help my own wallet, but would help retailers, and most likely force Marvel to rethink their own pricing decisions. But in the absence of contrary data, I stand by my own conclusion. Also let’s be clear that I said, several times in the article, that it’s EARLY and three months may not be a long enough period to draw any significant conclusions.
     

  60. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:

    @Wood  look  

    1

    191.68

    FANTASTIC FOUR #587

    $3.99

    MAR

    115,448

    2

    120.94

    BRIGHTEST DAY #17

    $2.99

    DC

    72,841

    3

    119.69

    BRIGHTEST DAY #18

    $2.99

    DC

    72,090

    4

    108.66

    SPAWN #200

    $3.99

    IMA

    65,448

    5

    107.70

    AVENGERS #9

    $3.99

    MAR

    64,867

    6

    107.28

    X-MEN #7

    $3.99

    MAR

    64,615

    7

    102.58

    BATMAN AND ROBIN #19

    $2.99

    DC

    61,785

    8

    101.56

    NEW AVENGERS #8

    $3.99

    MAR

    61,169

    9

    100.00

    BATMAN #706

    $2.99

    DC

    60,231

    10

    94.22

    AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #651

    $3.99

    MAR

    56,749

    January 2011
            

    1

    121.62

    GREEN LANTERN #62

    $2.99

    DC

    71,517

    2

    120.85

    BRIGHTEST DAY #19

    $2.99

    DC

    71,063

    3

    118.58

    BRIGHTEST DAY #20

    $2.99

    DC

    69,729

    4

    108.71

    AVENGERS #10

    $3.99

    MAR

    63,924

    5

    108.04

    FANTASTIC FOUR #588

    $3.99

    MAR

    63,529

    6

    103.59

    NEW AVENGERS #9

    $3.99

    MAR

    60,914

    7

    103.13

    BATMAN AND ROBIN #20

    $2.99

    DC

    60,642

    8

    100.00

    BATMAN #707

    $2.99

    DC

    58,803

    9

    95.20

    FLASH #9 (FLASHPOINT)

    $2.99

    DC

    55,980

    10

    94.01

    AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #654.1

    $2.99

    MAR

    55

       Febuary 2011
     

  61. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:

    1

    195.36

    FF #1

    $3.99

    MAR

    114,472

    2

    131.24

    GREEN LANTERN #64

    $2.99

    DC

    76,898

    3

    129.08

    GREEN LANTERN #63

    $2.99

    DC

    75,632

    4

    121.36

    BATMAN THE DARK KNIGHT #2

    $2.99

    DC

    71,108

    5

    119.81

    BRIGHTEST DAY #21

    $2.99

    DC

    70,204

    6

    119.17

    BRIGHTEST DAY #22

    $2.99

    DC

    69,824

    7

    113.96

    BATMAN INCORPORATED #3

    $2.99

    DC

    66,772

    8

    113.69

    AVENGERS #11

    $3.99

    MAR

    66,618

    9

    111.47

    BATMAN INCORPORATED #4

    $2.99

    DC

    65,315

    10

    107.03

    FEAR ITSELF BOOK OF THE SKULL #1

    $3.99

    MAR

    62,714
                     

  62. Jason Wood Wood says:

    @rottenjorge  Something went horribly wrong with your formatting. But more to the point, what point were you trying to illustrate?

  63. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:

    look at the comicbooks and see whos flooding the market  marvel Janurey 75   DC 56     Febuary  marvel 72 DC 62 March Marvel 87 DC 56 April marvel 71 DC 58 May marvel 69 DC 58  market share is more is because of they print more duh

  64. Jason Wood Wood says:

    @rottenjorge  

    Average DC Universe periodical sales

    DC UNIVERSE
    02/2006: 40,823
    02/2007: 39,976
    02/2008: 35,994
    02/2009: 30,224
    ---------------
    02/2010: 35,895 (+ 6.5%)
    03/2010: 32,375 (- 9.8%)
    04/2010: 32,859 (+ 1.5%)
    05/2010: 37,463 (+14.0%)
    06/2010: 34,612 (- 7.6%)**
    07/2010: 35,372 (+ 2.2%)
    08/2010: 33,411 (- 5.5%)
    09/2010: 32,042 (- 4.1%)
    10/2010: 32,832 (+ 2.5%)
    11/2010: 34,180 (+ 4.1%)
    12/2010: 30,870 (- 9.7%)
    01/2011: 24,321 (-21.2%)**
    02/2011: 25,887 (+ 6.4%)**
    ----------------
    6 months: -22.5%
    1 year  : -27.9%
    2 years : -14.4% 

    5 years : -36.6%
    http://www.comicsbeat.com/2011/04/12/dc-month-to-month-sales-february-2011/
     

  65. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:

    @Wood  the top 10 is getting more and more with DC 4 Jan 6 Feb 7 March, April lets find out

  66. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:

    @rottenjorge  im not a nerd, sounds gibberish

  67. Jason Wood Wood says:

    @rottenjorge the top 10 is just that, the top 10. It’s a fraction of the overall market. But seeing as how you took your ball and went home with the “I’m not a nerd” comment, we’ll leave you and your part of this discussion out of it from here on out. Peace.

  68. rjspring rjspring says:

    I love comics, but I don’t buy issues.  The price drop has meant nothing to me, nor has it changed my buying habits.

    I primarily buy trades, but have been getting more into the digital market.  I’ve subscribed to the MDCU and would gladly do the same if DC had a similar system.

    Issue sales are dying, publishers need to embrace and exploit the market possibilities of digital and digital subscription based pricing.  I know this will piss of the direct market, but the march of the digital devices will continue to pound (just look at how many iPads have been sold and how many tablet like devices will be sold in the next couple of years) and yes I understand that not all digital device buyers are comic readers – but that is where the market and technology in general is heading.  I think Marvel has caught on to this, I don’t have numbers to back it up but their digital service is really putting out the material – both in raw books and marketing.

    Other publishers need to embrace it or cry when issue sales numbers continue to drop as the trend has been shown.

  69. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:

    Top ten to me in the long haul shows how is slowly and quickly gaining momentum month after month Hell as I show marvel printed more comicbooks then DC 25 more every month I know I’m dropping more marvel getting DC instead and keep them I don’t have the money to give them away its a hobby and I like my hobby

  70. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    @rottenjorge  The top 10 books bing sold doesn’t reflect overall market health. Once you get out of the top 10, Marvel dominates the sales chart.

  71. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:

    @rjspring that is interesting what about those who can’t afford a $300 device there are more poor people in the u s a

  72. SirCox SirCox says:

    You know what? Good for Marvel for sticking to the “We are going to release good books and charge an amount that will make us money back because we are a business” attitude. The only DC books I’m reading right now are Batgirl, Power Girl, Detective Comics, Batman, and Batwoman. Most of those books are plagued with delays or creative team changes. It’s annoying. I rather pay the extra 12 bucks a year to get the book on time and keep the same teams going. DC just seems very unfocused these days. I’m hoping Flashpoint changes that.

    Marvel on the other hand has really had a great year. They also seem to scoop up and coming artists and writers more often than DC. I think that’s a brilliant way to run a publisher and I’ll gladly throw my extra dollars towards that.  The only criticism I can really throw at Marvel these days is how they cancel books that I love. I understand it though, most of the books that are cancelled just aren’t performing well in the marketplace for whatever reason(and if there is on thing you can say about comics, quality isn’t a guarantee of success). 

    I commend DC for trying something but really from a business stand point it just wasn’t a great idea. Kurt Busieks comments on CBR were absolutely right.  

  73. rjspring rjspring says:

    @rottenjorge  As we have seen with all technology markets, prices will drop as development and manufacturing processes become more efficient.  Just look at how much the first Kindle was and what the most recent model runs (or what laptops are running at today vs one or two years ago).

    Case in point, I have an aging five year old laptop which I use to read from the MDCU – $500 I spent all those years ago and now I’m paying less than $60/year (which I started last November) to read more issues than I would have purchased individually in the store over the same 5 year period (not including trades).  I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, and I know it has been discussed to death on this site as well – but the writing is on the wall for paper vs digital sales.  Regular books can possibly survive the digital trend as you will always have those folks who need the paper in their hands, but the comic market is a fraction of that size.

    Even if prices of devices don’t drop, it isn’t going to help direct market issue sales – how many folks who can’t buy the technology are out there spending the money they don’t have on issues of comic books?

    I love this hobby, and the art behind the creation of it.  I don’t want it to end, but at the same time I can’t see how the direct market of printed issues will survive long term.

  74. As long as the books are good, I don’t care what the price is. It is a bit better that DC is at $2.99 because money is always tight. But dropping prices hasn’t diminished or improved the quality of the books. I guess I am a DC guy because I buy more DC then Marvel. (Although I’ve made more Marvel books my POTW then DC, how that’s happening I don’t know)

    But I’m fine if books go up to $3.99 cause it still just enough for me to purchase comics. If it got even higher, like $4.99 then I might have to cut even more into my pullbin.

  75. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:

    @rjspring it can in 2001 issues sold 100k so in 2011 issues hasn’t change let’s see in five years

  76. kennyg kennyg says:

    @rottenjorge  These are the numbers I was waiting for – how many books does each publisher put out per month? How many of each are sold? If Marvel is putting out more product, they have an edge. Percentages can be greatly influenced by that. What if both companies put out the exact same number of books per month – what would the percentages be then?

    I love statistics! It’s never as black and white as you think.

  77. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:

    @kennyg well never know because marvel might not do it Hell July its f en 93 books 93 come on some haven’t droped to 2.99 like venom or heroes for hire moon knight didn’t. Or avengers

  78. market share is one thing, and profit margin is another factor that is important to this discussion, which unfortunately we’ll never know because those are closely guarded secrets. It is possible to sell less product for less but make more profit. Marvel puts out more books, which means more editors and staff, plus more freelance page rates plus more printing and distro costs but then they might have better deals with vendors like printers and shipping because of their volume which offsets those costs. With this kind of stuff even changing a paper vendor or paper product line might save you thousands of dollars (i just did something like that on a job this week)on one print run. Really its impossible to understand the big picture without having all the variables spelled out and that is not possible. 

    DC has the ability, resources and IP to publish as many books as Marvel but chooses not to. Why? its obvious that marvel and dc are operating under two completely different strategies…and i’m sure they are long term plans. 

  79. spacegrass spacegrass says:

    wood pwns noobs ,i love it

  80. Paul Montgomery PaulMontgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    The part of my brain that I need to access in order to participate in this discussion has a really intimidating bouncer. I trust in Wood. 

  81. Jason Wood Wood says:

    I see a lot of people talking about the number of titles Marvel and DC put out. While that’s certainly a factor, it’s naive to think DC is being more “disciplined” in its slate. Both companies have a long-standing policy flooding the shelves, at the expense of smaller publishers. If you track the mid and bottom tier lists, you’ll see that DC has, for years, struggled to sell enough of its mid and third tier books to justify. The reason DC isn’t putting out another 20 books a month is because they can’t turn a profit doing so, Marvel can. 

  82. mattstev2000 mattstev2000 says:

    I must be in the minority here, DC’s books are cheaper and better quality and i’ve been cutting Marvel books left right and center over the past year.

    I honestly haven’t seen anything from Marvel that competes with things like the GL titles and the Batman titles. Even DC’s generally less well received books are substantially better than most things Marvel are putting out.

    Add to that the quality you get coming out of Vertigo and I can never really understand the domiance that Marvel has in the sales charts. I generally put it down to people being, for want of a better term, ‘Marvel Zombies’ from their childhood (which to be fair I was as well) and basically not wanting to try the quality stuff that DC is putting out. 

  83. Jason Wood Wood says:

    @mattstev2000  The Marvel zombie thing always mystified me because DC has been around a lot longer. You can’t be a golden or silver age fan and not be a “DC guy.”  

  84. LakeFToy says:

    DC’s quality has dropped quite a bit over the past few years…starting around with the ultra confusing “Batman RIP.”  While I’ve enjoyed “Brightest Day” and still buy some of their stuff, ultimately, if I only have a certain amount to spend, I’ll buy Marvel’s more quality stuff instead.

  85. Bluestreak says:

    @mattstev2000 if you were in the publishing business that attitude would spell your doom. You are basically ignoring what the amrket is saying. you may not like it but you have to face up to it

  86. stuclach stuclach says:

    ELASTICITY!  If demand is inelastic a price decrease will do VERY little to quantity sold AND will actually decrease revenue.  

    To really analyze this we need per issue sales for the top 100 books, prices for the top 100 books, and some kind of control for “events” AND we need that data over a long enough period of time (a year?).  If I had that data I could tell you if the price change had any effect on sales.  (I should really control for creative team and any number of other factors, but we could get a rough estimate of the effect without that.) 

  87. Jason Wood Wood says:

    @stuclach I have all that data and then some, it shows no different conclusion.

  88. stuclach stuclach says:

    So I actually went to The Comics Chronicles website and grabbed their data for Jan 2010 through March 2011.  I then ran a simple regression controlling for publisher and release month/year and this is what I found:

    1) The coefficient on price is -606 and it is statistically significant.  That means that a one dollar price increase decreases sales by 606 units per issue controlling for publisher and timing.  That’s a pretty damn small effect, but it is statistically significant.

    2) I then ran a log-log regression (which essentially spits out elasticities as coefficients) while still controlling for publisher and release timing.  The price elasticity of demand for comic books between January 2010 and March 2011 is -0.07. That might just be the single smallest elasticity estimate I have ever seen.  Really.  That is exceptionally inelastic.  It essentially means that if you raise your price by 100% (doubling your price) your quantity will only fall by 7%.  SEVEN PERCENT.  That is the kind of inelasticity you get in the Insulin and Heroin market.

    This is a VERY rough estimate (there are some endogeneity issues and I can’t control for creative team or “event” status), but it is probably fairly close to the true number.  If so, price changes in this industry do essentially nothing to sales.

    In other words, Jason Wood is right.  

  89. mattstev2000 mattstev2000 says:

    @LakeFToy – what was confusing about Batman RIP? Morrison’s Batman run has been one of the most oustanding runs on any character i’ve ever read.

    @Bluestreak – fortunately I’m not in the publishing business. Don’t get me wrong, If I was I’d have to pump out a lot of the crap that Marvel does at the moment because it seems to get lapped up. I wouldn’t understand it and I’d be reading DC and Vertigo myself but Marvel are good at giving the people what they want apparently. 

    @Wood – Mystifies me as well but it does seem to be a phenomonen. There are certain people that pick a publisher and stay there no matter how good or bad there books are and obviously at one time most everyone was picking Marvel as their favoured publisher, myself included. Personally I had to start shifting to DC, the quality was better the prices were better and the talent was better (writing wise at least). That’s not to say that I wouldn’t go back to Marvel if they ever start upping the quality of their stories again, I just can’t justify the money to quality ratio on most of their books at the moment. 

  90. BizDaddy BizDaddy says:

    Comic prices are definitely a factor in what I buy, but as many others have said, not the biggest factor. 

    I do tend to try new comics more based on the creative teams than on the book.  Marvel seems to do a better job of recruiting upcoming creative talent that makes an impact in the indies and give them opportuities and a marketing push. Cases in point: Hickman, Fraction, Aaron, Spencer, Remender, (and the big daddy of independant writers who’ve made big waves in the big two) Bendis.

    I think if DC wants to recapture the magic they need to consider following suit in recruitment and marketing. I think they’ve caught on with the push they’ve given Snyder, but need to make a stonger push.

  91. Jason Wood Wood says:

    @stuclach Well done. 

  92. BizDaddy BizDaddy says:

    One more thought:

    Maybe if DCstarted following more of the Vertigo modelof dropping prices to a dollar for a single (jump-on point) issue on titles they want to really push, they may get people to bite and keep coming back for the standard price.

    (It worked for Wee-bay, D’Angelo, and the rest Stringer-Bell’s corner boys when they pushed “Yellow top”)

  93. Kory Kory says:

    Marvel sells better because they have something DC doesn’t — brand loyalty.  Because of price hikes most readers have dropped DC and independent books in favor of the core Marvel titles so they can stay in “in the know”.

    DC does well in the top ten because most readers will dip their toes into the DCU, but only a small minority will buy the mid-to-lower tier books that don’t “matter”. 

    Sadly, DC will always play second fiddle regardless of price of quality, because they have a reputation of having an impenetrable ”universe” full of “cheesy” super heroes.

  94. stuclach stuclach says:

    @Wood  Thank you, sir.

  95. stuclach stuclach says:

    @Kory  Do you really feel that Marvel doesn’t have that exact same reputation?

    Marvel may have a larger number of loyal readers, but I guarantee DC also has a large base of loyal readers.

  96. mattstev2000 mattstev2000 says:

    @Kory – Totally agree about the brand loyalty thing, never really understood why but Marvel do seem to have an exceptionally loyal following that will happily put up with price hikes and quality drops to stay with certain characters. DC do have this as well with certain readers but don’t seem to have it to the same extent as Marvel.

    Never understood the complaints about DC being impenetrable or cheesy, there’s a wealth of history there (which I very much enjoyed researching when I started with DC) and they are more iconic that Marvel which can hurt the human factor in some instances but I don’t think impenetrable or cheesy is fair. 

  97. Kory Kory says:

    @stuclach:  I should clarify — My statement was merely an observation, not my opinion.  On average most comic fans hold the opinion that the DCU is confusing and that Marvel has better characters.

    And yes, there are loyal DC readers, just not as many as Marvel.

  98. Noto Noto says:

    Marvel dominates the market share, because they are double-shipping just about every book that they make (and at times throwing in a .1 to create a third). If I only read two comics, Uncanny X-Men and Action Comics, then Marvel is going to come out ahead every time.

  99. Jason Wood Wood says:

    @Noto I wrote a rather scatching criticism of Marvel’s double shipping policies just a few weeks ago:

    http://www.ifanboy.com/content/articles/Marvel_Double_Shipping_Titles__is_it_Pennywise_and_Pound_Foolish_

    …so I’m aware of the phenomenon.

    But that neither proves nor disproves the discussion at hand, which is: Is there ANY evidence to suggest that DC’s $2.99 Drawing the Line policy is having any beneficial impact on their sales?  

  100. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:

    @stuclach  @Wood  wood is wrong and no dc is not failing, and @Noto  is right!

  101. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:

    @Kory  its up to really the people that buy the comicbooks and its going to show i proved my point on how many books marvel ships which they ship atleast almost 20 more books than dc

  102. Superyan Superyan says:

    As someone who collected TONS of DC titles consistantly from 2005 thru 2010, I can say that the rising costs did play a factor in my quitting, but not the only reason.  The change back to $2.99 was not enough to bring me back.

  103. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:

    @Superyan  no mree  dc? ouch @Wood  damm 24 comicbooks you must be rich to buy that many this is your arguement we can see buying a lot of comicbooks is going to make a difference

  104. j206 j206 says:

    The top books aren’t hurt by the high prices. At this point it’s clear that the hardcore readers are going to buy their top books regardless. It’s pretty much the reason Marvel and DC knew they could keep jacking up prices at such large increments.

    But what it hurt is the mid and lower tier books. mid tier especially. I think it’s pretty obvious that these are the books that are feeling the pinch. I’m guessing the average comic reader continues to spend around the same amount that they would have spent before. They’re not dropping ASM or Detective Comics. It’s other books that are falling on the sword.

    And I’m not quite sure how this turned into a how much DC vs Marvel ship thing. That wasn’t Wood’s point. Total sales or top 10′s don’t matter in the equation. It’s how much each specific book itself is selling compared to how it was prior. And Wood is right, IMO. There hasn’t been much of a change. I don’t think it was ever going to cause a big jump. At this point it’s sadly more about stopping the bleeding and holding still where they are.

  105. Jason Wood Wood says:

    @rottenjorge 

    Let’s forget total sales for a second. Let’s just compare sales of Marvel and DC by tiers of books.

    DC’s top 10 books, on average, sold 67,400 copies last month. Marvel’s top 10 books sold 64,500. Slight edge to DC. 

    DC’s 11th-20th books, on average, sold 37,170 copies. Marvel’s 11-20 sold 46,980 copies. In other words, Marvel’s 11th-20th books sold 26% more than DC’s per title.

    DC’s 21st-30th books, on average, sold 27,130 copies. Marvel’s 21st-30th sold 37,290 copies. Marvel’s 21-30th books sold 38% more than DC’s comparable titles, on average.

    DC’s 31st-40th books, on average, sold 21,420 copies. Marvel’s sold 28,380 copies. That’s a 33% difference.

    DC’s 41st-50th books, on average, sold 17,430 copies. Marvel’s sold 25,740. That’s a 48% difference!!

    DC’s 51st-60th books, on average, sold 11,570 copies. Marvel’s sold 22,300 copies. That’s a 93% difference.

    And so on, and so on.

    Even if we give Marvel zero credit for the extra 20-30 books they ship, DC’s sales, per book, are notoriously less than Marvel’s, and the gap gets more pronounced as we go down the sales charts. This gets back to my original point. DC WOULD ABSOLUTELY ship 20-30 more books a month, if it could do so profitably. But DC’s 63rd best selling title (Thunder Agents) sold fewer than 10,000 copies, which is almost assuredly not breakeven.  97 Marvel books sold more than 10,000 copies that same month.

     

  106. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:

    @j206  right about what buying 24 books each week? no people are lowering i know i see it at shops they im droping this title because i cant afford it!!! so wood is wrong!!!

  107. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:

    @Wood  your talking one dc title one thunder agents

  108. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:
  109. stuclach stuclach says:

    @j206  The data I used for those regressions included roughly the top 300 single issues for each month. 

  110. sackoshyte sackoshyte says:

    When I stopped buying the titles I just never went  back. I realized I wasn’t missing anything for the most part. I’ll pick up an interesting story in TPB now and then. This frees up money so I can pick up a random selection from the back of PREVIEWS if I want.

  111. s1lentslayer s1lentslayer says:

    You da man, Wood.

  112. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:

    @sackoshyte  no this guys the man

  113. db8coach db8coach says:

    Having come back to comics after a long layoff, I know 3.99 has kept me away from the Marvel books.  2.99 is a lot but it also means I buy 3 DC comics and get one free compared to the same for the Marvels.

  114. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:

    @db8coach  thank you siratleast your right

  115. Jason Wood Wood says:

    Serendipitous timing.

    April numbers just hit…

    http://blog.comichron.com/2011/05/april-2011-comics-sales-slip-slightly.html

    One more month to add to the assertion. 

  116. stuclach stuclach says:

    @Wood  Interesting that Total Merchandise sales are up despite all the negatives on that page.  I have to wonder if that’s movie related.

  117. Jason Wood Wood says:

    @stuclach I had the same thought. But it’s a new category so I don’t even know what goes into it, and how long they’ve tracked it. With that category you have real potential outliers. You would have $400 statues mixed in with $2 stickers and everything in between. Skew would be immense month to month I would think.

  118. @stuclach  –every comic shop i’ve been in during the past few years has started diversifying and devoting LOTS of space to toys, statues, T shirts and other kinds of merch…i’ve even been in quite a few that have more space dedicated to action figures than new comics. 

  119. srh1son srh1son says:

    @stuclach  Who doesn’t want to walk around in life carrying a replica of Mjolnir?

  120. Jason Wood Wood says:

    @wallythegreenmonster  Funny b/c I know three store owners that have gotten out of the merch business, or deemphasized it because the stuff doesn’t have good margins, and sits on shelves for long periods of time with little turnover (thus tying up cash flow). 

  121. stuclach stuclach says:

    @wallythegreenmonster  If those things are ever going to sell it would be now.

    @Wood  That makes sense.

    @srh1son  I want Paul to do a video show about his replica Mjolnir.

  122. @Wood –yeah thats what my initial reaction..i just see all the real estate and imagine the costs and it doens’t make sense to me, but they are still there and still pushing it hardcore…one shop even evolved into a hobby shop getting into gaming like warhammer and pokemon and stuff. The ones that i’ve seen do it well, are the ones that really go after hard to find stuff as well as used and vintage. THey become the one stop shop for pop culture and Sci Fi type stuff in the area. Seems that Marvel and DC are really ramping up the non comic book merch. 

    Also i wonder how stores like Hastings are affecting things since they sell alot of the toys and mech and stuff. 

  123. Jason Wood Wood says:

    @wallythegreenmonster I think gaming is a bit of a different beast, because from my understanding gaming gets people into the stores as a destination, which helps ancillary sales. Also, I know a lot of stores that now sell beverages and snacks (at significant markups like any food service provider) to the people who hang for hours of gaming, and rake in nice incremental profits from that.

  124. MountNJ says:

    I blame DC’s drop on Superman walking around.

    Also, I think it would be interesting to see if more people bought Flashpoint $2.99 mini series over Marvel’s $3.99 Fear Itself Minis.  I personaly have avoided the tie ins because I thought most of them would be 3.99 and DC Flashpoint’s would all be 2.99.  So I guess marketing worked on me, but I do not make up the entire market.

  125. OliverTwist OliverTwist says:

    @sackoshyte  That never worked for me, I would lose touch on the momentum of a character or characters. There would be events which played out in the past, which were impacting things in the story. I went back to issues for some of my titles, and have been trying to figure out which are TPB material and issue material since that time.

  126. @Wood  –yeah basically store as clubhouse. I’ve seen the soda machines and arcade game machines in shops as well. I guess my point was that i’ve seen more diversification in the past few years which i personally think how the comic shop will survive as the comics market continues to shrink. 

  127. stevec50 stevec50 says:

    I currently only buy two comics published by DC and frankly I bought both prior to the ”Drawing the Line at $2.99″ promotion and will possibly (if they are still being published) keep buying them even if the price goes back up.  It might have been a better deal back when I was buying all those DARKEST NIGHT titles, which I probably could not give away at this point for $.99 if I tried.

  128. jwaesch jwaesch says:

    Jonah hex is the only DC title I buy regularly. If it had gone to 3.99, I likely would have dropped it. The Spirit was the only other regular DC title I bought, but dropped it during the middle of the second arc. By the time they dropped the price I had found another book to replace it. So ultimately DC was able to keep me on one book, but they were too little/ too late on the other. To me that goes to show how arbitrary these business plans in this market can be.

  129. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:

    dam april wow buyers

  130. says:

    I don’t think a comic at $3 or $4 is a huge issue for the hardcore consumer.  I think if DC or Marvel really wants to see their volume increase they’ll embrace digital only publishing and realize the cost savings to lower comic prices to around $1-$2 while they make an advertising push.  Publishers really aren’t doing that much to reach out to new or younger audiences either, which explains their diminsihing market share.  The argument could be made that the movies selling a lot will increase comic sales, but the recent trend after all these movies does not indicate any sustained uptick in interest.  I watch Spongebob, The Avengers, and Young Justice with my neighbor kid when the wife babysits, and I haven’t seen one commercial for a comic book.  Even David Balducci novels get advertised on subway trains. 

  131. Anthony says:

    This could be way off line, but wouldn’t Marvel’s higher price allow them to publish more titles? A higher price means less need to be sold to make a profit, and if less need to be sold, less need to be made which means costs are lower.  This would allow books with lower sales to continue to make profit and continue to be published. 

    Is it possible DC is publishing less books because at their lower price a lot more need to be sold to make the same amount of money?  It seems there would be a relationship between books published and the price they’re sold at. 

    @stuclach  I love myself a good regression.  Great work. 

    It appears that almost all the data supports that 2.99 vs 3.99 isn’t a big deal.  Even the top 10 thing doesn’t really work against it as it’s pretty much the three titles (green lantern, brightest day, batman inc) that are in there.  Green Lantern has been leading into an event, brightest day is an event, and batman inc is a morrison book.  At any price these would have sold well, and based on those top 10 numbers, more people were still dropping brightest day as it went on. In all those top 10′s, Fantastic Four and Avengers are still killing it in sales, despite the higher price tag.  All it really indicated is that quality books with big name creative teams do well, which I think we all knew.

  132. nastysnow nastysnow says:

    Well 2.99 isn’t helping dc cause marvel is winning duh dc needs tiger blood running through there viens yes I know the joke has been done to death but I needed to say it u can kill me later

  133. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:

    Once the number one comicbook of that month is selling 40k that month then let’s all throw in the towel

  134. angelicfey says:

    @TemporalBeef  This is something I’ve been thinking for awhile myself. Honestly I wouldn’t even mind if most titles were released in black and white so that they could use cheaper paper and printing. The more indie/Image/etc series’ I read where the artist uses watercolors or really unique pen and ink; the more I lose interest in coloring unless its unique and artistic enough to have value on its own merit.

  135. I would rather buy 3 books at $3.99 that I really enjoy than $4 books at $2.99 that I dn’t really have strong feelings towards.

    For me, the price point isn’t a big deal. I have a limited amount of money and I have to limit myself to the books I REALLY want. I tend to get mostly Marvel books, as they have far and away more characters that I am interested in. Most of my favorite characters of all time are Marvel books, I also buy more indy books than DC books. I was getting Doom patrol, but that got cancelled. I was buying Flash, but that has been……whatever it is they have done with Flash. I am left with just buying Batman & Robin. That’s it. One DC book a month. I spend roughly $80 a month on comics. Of that, probably $55-$60 of it goes to Marvel. 

  136. nastysnow nastysnow says:

    The problem with dc is that they but all there energy into the bat and grean lantern books and forget the rest of there line where as marvel will have avengers ff xmen spiderman hulk thor cap and iron man books hiting all cylenders and when things like dd or punisher are not working they go back to the drawing board

  137. OliverTwist OliverTwist says:

    @JohnVFerrigno  I don’t think anyone is buying 2.99 books they don’t have good feelings about. $2.99 for a book is still a lot of money, and if you could only afford 12 dollars a month, at least if the 3 books cost 2.99, you would have 3 dollars to explore on another title, if your titles are starting to no longer satisfying you.

  138. Firevine Firevine says:

    There is only one DC book I buy, and if that book went to $3.99, I’d drop it in a heartbeat, because it’s not that good.  I like Green Arrow as a character, but that book is boooooring.

    I wonder how Brightest Day burnout affects the DC sales slump.  I’d wager it’s not insignificant.  It’s one of the reasons Green Arrow is so bloody boring.  Ollie has been poncing about this mysteriously mysterious forest of mystery for a year now. Brightest Day has been going on for two.  Thats about a year and a half too long for an event.  Add to that War of the Green Lanterns, Blackest Night, and Sinestro Corp, and there has to be a LOT of Lantern related burnout.  DC obviously can produce good product, they’re just in a slump right now.  It’s tough for me to justify the $2.99 for a book that *might* be good, with a character I *might* end up caring about, when I know that for my $3.99, Avengers/New Avengers will rock my socks.  That’s not saying Marvel doesn’t have it’s misses too.  Two issues into Future Foundation and Fear Itself both, and I couldn’t possibly care less about either book.  I picked up issue #1 of X-Force, and remembered I can’t stand the X-Men, and Deadpool even more so.

    I think at least for me, my tendency to buy Marvel over DC is that I can empathize with Marvel characters more.  I don’t give a crap about the super strong alien from Krypton, or the super strong Amazon princess, but I do give a care about Luke Cage trying to protect his wife and kid.  Marvel excels at that sort of thing.

    Hell, since I’m dropping Future Foundation and Fear Itself, recommend me a DC book or two.

  139. Xeno Xeno says:

    I’m fairly limited when it comes to statistics and economics talk for I’m a legelist. But what I can say is based on my own economy. If it’s priced less, I buy more. As a matter of fact, I basically dropped a lot of marvel titles I buy in favor of some dc and a lot of indies. I know I didn’t even reflect a minority (meaning there’s no really forseeable effect of the price cut), but personally it means a lot to me. I’m not like everyone else who says they want the comics to be cheaper but does nothing to express it. I did. I voted with my money. It’s just a sad fact that my side seems to be losing.

  140. AriesDog AriesDog says:

    Another hypothesis: DC Comics quality has really dropped off. If the prices hadn’t been dropped, sales might even be lower.

  141. Poopmonster Poopmonster says:

    As long as Marvel is making mutant books they will win the market share. The rest of the Marvel / DC books compare well over time, but DC has never had a long term answer to the X-Men/Wolverine.
    The whole 2.99 thing is a media event that I wouldn’t think would have any real short term affect. I’ve read / collected for a long time and a price change (always higher prices before this) have never swayed my purchasing of books I want, but may stop me from buying the impulse purchases. Though having digital books at my finger tips (legally) has me making all sorts of buys I never would in the actual comic shop.

  142. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:
  143. db8coach db8coach says:

    @JohnVFerrigno – its simple economics…all things being the same if there are DC comics that you enjoy for 2.99 and Marvel comics that you enjoy for 3.99 but your on a budget, what would you cut first?