Stop Waiting and Just Read the Book!

It’s been slowly building over the past couple of years, but I’ve developed a pet peeve. It started with “trade waiting,” a familiar and understandable concept, where someone decides, due to their reading preferences, to skip the issues of certain comics and wait to buy the collected edition. As collected editions became more ubiquitous, this became a safer practice, and is, of course, a boon to the consumer. But then, this hardcover thing came up.

Some people were all about the hardcover. And that’s cool with me. It comes up fairly often, and my two co-hosts are notorious for either getting nearly every Absolute Edition (Conor…) or rigidly sticking to a format once started (Ron… well, both of them really). It’s been reflected on this site as well. Plenty of iFanbase members have drank the hardcover Kool-Aid too, and that’s OK.

But, and you knew this was coming, there are days when I think that a lot of readers are becoming too focused on the package rather than the contents. The one that’s really getting to me is the case of All-Star Superman. Our own Mike Romo asked the DC folks in San Diego when or if we could expect an Absolute Edition of Morrison and Quitely’s work. The response was that he should glue his existing hardcovers together. It was a joke, but some people actually took offense. You see, what’s bugging me is that people aren’t actually reading the book, because they’re waiting and waiting for the ultimate format. But in the end you’re just missing out on the story. In the case of All-Star Superman, I mean, just read the thing! There are already hardcovers! But those aren’t good enough? That’s just silly to me. I’m a comic fan because I love reading comics, not because I’m a book fetishist.

I can’t remember what kind of TV I watched The Wire on. But I’m sure it wasn’t a huge plasma TV in hi-definition, because the show wasn’t even shot in Hi-Def. But it didn’t matter, because the story and the experience transcended all of that. The story is the thing! The content is the reason.

Of course another thing people love are “extras,” a necessity brought to us from special edition DVDs. Sure people want the story, but that’s not enough. We must go behind the scenes, and find out how and why! We must have development sketches and raw pencils! We must have reprinted vaguely tangential essays! We must have context! Sure that stuff is cool, but the truth is, I haven’t gone back to watch DVD special features in years. Likewise, when I finish a trade, I do flip through the extras in some books, but usually as an aside, never to glance on them again in 90% of the cases. Is it really worth the wait?

I remember walking the aisles in San Diego with Ron and Jim. Jim mentioned how he was looking for some Green Lantern trades, so he could (and I’m paraphrasing here) “see what all the hubbub is about.” See, long ago, Jim gave the first issue of Green Lantern Rebirth a shot, and didn’t like it. Now, those of us who’s been reading Jim’s column for a long time know that’s because he is full of vile bitter and spite for all things from the DCU, and had no intention of actually liking it. But like all harsh winters, eventually a thaw must come upon us, and the roaring of Blackest Night accolades is too much to bear without sneaking an eensy weensy peek. So Jim told us he wanted to find the trade for Rebirth. Having heard the news earlier in the day that said story would be Absoluted, Ron automatically said “wait for the absolute,” indicating that, no matter what, if a story is available in giant, absurd, overpriced form, it should be consumed in that way. But knowing the history of our crankiest wordsmith, I don’t think Absolute is the way to go for him. Sure, you could spend $75 or a book you might not like, but is very pretty, or you could spend $10 for the paperback version without any of that cost resentment. Also, that book’s not out until April of 2010. Then if you’re an OCD format whacko (sorry, that’s what you people are), you’re not going to be able to get the rest of Johns’ Green Lantern run in that same format. So where are you then? It’s a pretty good story, but is it that great or a story?

Sure there are Absolute editions and omnibi that I bought for stories that are extra special to me. I double dipped for Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns (with bonus horribly colored sequel!), Starman, Powers, ad Ed Brubaker’s Captain America, but there are plenty of other books available in a heavier, harder format I haven’t felt the need to acquire. Preacher might be my favorite comic series of all time, but for now, I don’t want to buy all of them again, because frankly, my reading experience with that story simple couldn’t get better. I didn’t read the trades (and people didn’t read the issues) thinking, “This is OK, I guess, but a hardcover would make it perfect!” They just read it. And they liked it! Dammit!


  1. Somebody had to say it. Glad it was you. Just read the damn book.

  2. I understand the point you are making with this article. However, in my case the beauty of the item isn’t an issue, durability is the name of the game. The reason I prefer hardcovers is my two daughters. They are 3 and 4 years old, respectively. Not only do my books need to survive their constant abuse (they are an unstoppable force), but I also want a format that isn’t going to fall apart before they are old enough to appreciate what they are reading. They obliterated my copy of "The Long Halloween" in TPB form.

    That is why I often wait for hardcovers. I will buy trades if hardcovers don’t appear likely or if they are simply out of my price range (most absolutes), but prefer to buy hardcovers when possible.

    P.S. You may feel my children are too young to see some of the images in books like "The Long Halloween".  I assure you that I do not INTENTIONALLY expose my children to unsettling images. Anyone who has kids knows that they WILL find/destroy anything you have in the house. As they did with my copy of "The Long Halloween". 

  3. See, this is something I struggle with, and it’s because I’m a tight-ass. It’s not so much that I wait for one format or another, but rather if I have a series in one format, I NEED to get the rest of the series in that format. For example, X-Factor. Is this my favorite series in the world? No, but it’s pretty enjoyable. I happened to pick up the first three collections in hardcover at a convention for $5 a pop. Great deal. But now, I can’t buy paperbacks for the other editions. Just can’t do it. Looks funky on my bookshelf.

    I got the first Iron Fist trade in paperback and loved it. Bought the second one in hardcover, and it’s making me crazy to look at the odd juxtaposition of the two.

    On the other hand, there are cases where waiting is justifiable. Sandman is the one that springs to mind. The Absolute editions are recolored, and I like the job they did with that. So when I have the money, I’ll get those. UNLESS they do new trades of Sandman with the recoloring. But see, that’s more for the recoloring than anything else. Format doesn’t matter.

    I don’t know. What am I saying? Somebody give me some medication.

  4. I think for myself (and maybe some others) is that there is more to a comic than just a story. I love Morrison but I also love Quietly and if I have to wait a little while to get the best possible presentation of his art, I am waiting. I know the hardcovers are out there, but if I could see his work oversized on the best paper with a whole mess of sketches and extras in the back, that is worth waiting for.

    From a company standpoint the "glue um together" thing is just because they want you to buy the same book as many times as possible. If they wanted to give readers a real choice they would release the three formats all at once. Instead they stagger them with the most expensive one last in hopes they already sold us one of the others along the way. 

  5. Agreed on all fronts.  If I have the option, I’ll usually get the hardcover because there’s a sense that it will be more durable, but comics should be purchased to be read and enjoyed.  Waiting for something as amazing as All-Star Superman in Absolute form is just silly.  You may catch flak for this Josh, so kudos to you for having the balls to post it.

  6. Couldn’t agree more. I have three(!) "oversized" books in my collection, and only because they were gifts/purchased on a steep discount. Some books like the ones mentioned by Josh above certainly do deserve giant, oversized, almost-impossible to read editions, and I would have no qualms, if I were to come across one under the right conditions, obtain one. But just to buy it because you’re a ‘format junkie’ is almost absurd, especially if you’ve already read/own it.

    That being said, however, I am a DVD extras junkie. If there’s a 2-disc, digitally remastered, 5 hours of deleted scenes version, I’ll pick it up. I am an enigma wrapped in a riddle.

  7. I agree… if a book is really special to you, then that is where you should lay out the extra money for the super-fancy version.  

    People need to quit getting so caught up in the packaging and remember that the content is what it is really about.  The packaging  is just a way for the publishers to squeeze some more money out of you… 

  8. Here’s the thing: different formats look funny on your bookshelf? Okay. So what if they do? What are you worried about happening there? Who’s looking at your shelf? If you have 10 X-Men books, and they’re all symmetrical and color-coordinated, is that going to depress your mother-in-law less when she comes into your living room, sees it, and contemplates who her child has married?

    This is about to set me off on another anti-print fetishist diatribe. (Quick, somebody mention the smell of the paper!) You know what is never going to happen?: You are never going to hear your grandchildren talking about comics, saying, "Now see, I only collect the 60MB PDFs. I know that book has already come out in 30MB PDF, but I wait for the Sixty. It just looks better in my file directory."

    That was a pretty great conversation. "I really didn’t like the first chapter." "You should read the $70 version." "I think I won’t."

    I read two Batman books. Back when Flash Rebirth came out, I read that.

  9. I don’t wait for anything these days because let’s be honest, life’s too short.  Plus, those absolutes weigh like 30 pounds.  I get winded just looking at those things, let alone reading them. 

  10. I have a few friends who are always upgrading to Absolutes and omnibi, which always works out well for me. I have all the trades for Ultimate Spider-Man and Starman and paid a quarter of the price because people needed the super fancy version.

  11. Whenever possible, I go for the soft cover.  Only when I really love something will I go big and get the hardcover or oversized editions.  Case in point, I’m pick up the Y: The Last Man hardcovers after feverishly reading all of the trades from the library.

  12. ooohhh now I have to read All-Star Superman.

    I always thought that the omnibi and absolute editions were nice to look at but impossible to read. It’s almost like you have to make a date to sit down and read the thing. A trade can go with you wherever you are and can be enjoyed just as easily.

  13. Serious applause for the column and for Jimski’s comment. Though WonderAli has totally hit on the advantage of knowing hardcover junkies. 

    My dilemma is more the other way.  I like fancy hardcovers but I only want to drop that kind of cash when I know I’ll like it, in which case I probably bought it in paperback or trade anyway.  I know it’s been discussed here before that this is pretty much the opposite of the way book publishing works — where they put out expensive hardcovers for the devotees, then as the months go by you can find increasingly affordable paperbacks (or hardcovers in remainder bins if you’re lucky).  I imagine both approaches work for the intended audience and that’s why the businesses are run that way, but it’s interesting to think about.   


  14. Generally, if the hardcover is available and I like the story I’ll buy the hardcover. I’d love Absolute editions of 100 Bullets but I’m happy with the trades. What I am trying to say is, I usually go hardcover if that option is there(not necessarily Absolute though) but if it’s not no big.

  15. I’m actually in the opposite direction.  DC has been publishing their trades in hardcover format and then releasing the paperback months later.  This is a lot like what prose publishers do by selling the hardcover first then going to soft cover after a while if the hardcover sold well enough.  So, I’m trade waiting in the opposite direction than what you’re talking about, Josh.  It’s easier on my wallet that way.

  16. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    If it’s impossible to read everything all at once (which it is) doesn’t it make sense to prioritize things? I don’t know that anyone waiting to read certain stories in a different format is abstaining from all other media consumption in the interim. They’re surely reading something else while they wait. That’s not so much of a compromise, considering there are countless books of or around the same quality as the book they’re waiting for. It’s nice to be timely, sure. But it’s not a race. 

    My feeling is this. Read what you want in the order you want to read it. If you like a particular format and think it’s a better use of your money, it won’t hurt to wait a bit. You’re probably drowning in great stories as it is.  

  17. There’s an absolute of Green Lantern: Rebirth coming?

    Oh man I can’t wait to get that!

    😉 @ josh

  18. I’ve been buying the Y and Preacher HCs recently because when I first read those, I was working at a comic shop and just reading throught the trades off the shelf. So I never actually owned them. That makes the HCs perfect for me. As far as absolutes and omnibi, I reserve those purchases for that which I absolutely love. All I have are Watchmen, Morrison’s New X-Men, and the Millar/Hitch Ultimates, but the main reason I buy HC’s is for the oversized artwork. Other HCs I have are usually featuring art by an artist that I love. Brian Bolland, Alan Davis, Frank Miller, Brian Hitch, etc. Plus, I am a graphic designer as well as a lover of comics, so that extra shine on the packaging gives me a very warm and tingly feeling. Especially when they do something cool under the dust jacket (DC does this all the time, check out the most recent printing of Killing Joke and Mad Love in HC).

  19. I wait for paperbacks because they’re cheapest, take less space, and you read 6 issues uninterrupted.  I don’t like to pay overpriced stuff.  Bleh.

    Also Jimski, don’t read Green Lantern, it’s blegh!  (Unless you like infinite power from a ring)

  20. In all seriousness, I agree 100% with all of you.

    People shouldn’t be waiting for Hardcovers, both oversized or omnibus size. Marvel gets their trades out pretty quickly and with DC…..well Marvel gets their trades out pretty quickly.

    Conor shouldn’t wait for oversize hardcovers on Nova, he should be reading the regular trades or in issue form. People shouldn’t be waiting for Incredible Hercules in oversize hardcovers, cause all of the trades are out right now. That’s the whole point of this entire argument: Most of these stories are out in trade already! So why wait a good couple of years to get it in omnibus/absolute size or oversize hardcover?

    Just read the damn story!!

  21. I usually buy the issues and sometimes the trades in addition to the Absolute because I like reading the TPB/HC instead. It’s easire to carry around, read in bed, etc. Also I’d hate to ruin the Absolutes. However the extras and the HUGE art is soooo beautiful to look at.

  22. Not to mention, the ladies dig the absolute edition.

  23. When I start buying something in HC, I have to finish it in HC, but only if I know that I’ll be able to get the entirety of it in HC. Like Nextwave or Y or Preacher or JLI. But If I buy the first volume of a trade, I switch to issues as soon as I possibly can.

  24. I’m all for watching something if you want to watch it, or just reading something if you want to read it; but I’ll definitely be waiting for the Absolute GL Rebirth. I started John’s run at issue 26 and have been wanting to go back to the beginning for a while, but just havn’t gotten around to it.  But now that the Absolute’s coming out, I’ll be getting that. In the case of All Star Superman, with no Absolute on the horizon, I’ll most likely get the editions already out, same as I did with the trades for Sinestro Corps War. In my opinion, if you’ve wanted to pick something up and havn’t yet, and it’s announced that a new oversized version is coming up, and you’re into that kind of thing, there’s nothing wrong with waiting. I’ve got plenty in my stack to hold me over until April 2010.

  25. @hbkhumanity: Shh! Your just gonna get josh angry! 🙂

    Not to get off topic but: When I think of must have absolutes, All Star Superman comes to mind first then Rebirth. No offense to Johns, it’s a great story but not that great. If anything I would want a Sinestro Corps absolute.

  26. @TNC Right on about the Sinestro Corps absolute, I’d buy that again in a heartbeat.

  27. I think Sinestro Corps War makes much more sense for Absolutation.  It makes me think that they’re going to do all three parts of the trilogy, and that’s in the long term plans.

  28. I only use trades as a way of catching up to singles or reading something I missed.

  29. Packaging and extras are the icing on the cake. If you have a shity cake all the icing in the world won’t make it better. I have a friend waiting to watch the Watchmen film until the "ultimate" version comes out. I thought that was silly but what do I know.

  30. I generally ignore the bonus material unless something really jumps out at me. I read Mr. Kirkman’s comments in the Invincible hardcovers because he is one funny Kentuckian.

  31. I think it’s safe to assume that anyone who keeps logs of what comic issue is in what box has some form of OCD. Sticking to one kind of book format seems like nothing compared to that.

  32. This has got to be one of the best articles I’ve ever read on this site and, though it wasn’t a long article, also one of the best comics-related articles I’ve ever read. It really drives the point home.

    First of all, it has to be acknowledged that there’s no harm in sometimes preferring a certain type of book format. Somtimes each of us will really fall in love with a certain type of packaging, and that’s definitely understandable. I have actually refrained from buying many DC softcover trades because I don’t like the rough paperstock. I’m usually not one to care about paperstock–having purchased a 50-issue run of Uncanny X-Men from the ’80s, with no qualms about muddy colors–but for some reason the paperstock DC uses in softcover trades REALLY turns me off. On the other hand, to give a non-comics example, when it comes to classic literature for a short time I pretty much only purchased books from Random House’s Modern Library division, if they were available there, because I loved the typeface.

    So we all have our little quirks, the things we like and the things we don’t. We get on kicks and stay on them for a while.

    That said, I really don’t understand how people can literally wait YEARS to get an Absolute or Omnibus of something that’s already available. I think the biggest "problem" in all of this format fetishism is that 1) life is short, and 2) some people are waiting a ridiculous amount of time to spend a ridiculous amount of money for something that’s already available, usually in several different formats already. I can understand buying an expensive collected edition if you’re rich, or if you REALLY like the story–But, hey, all the guys with more than 2-3 Absolutes or Omnibi? Okay, you guys shouldn’t ever, ever, EVER complain about how expensive comics are from now on, because coming from you guys it’s more than just a little hypocritical.

    As far as needing all your trades to match within one series or whatever . . . guys, I’d say that’s a "you"-problem. You’re seriously buying a more expensive format that you’re not absolutely in love with, just so it will match? I can see how matching would be nice but, seriously, if this is a big deal to you guys, if you put off buying things for a year just to get the "right" format, or if you are jumping through mental hoops to justify your OCD actions…I hate to say it but you should have some sort of an intervention with yourself. Let it go. Just buy what you want when you want, if you’re able to buy it. You might have a better LIFE experience, even if you have a slightly poorer reading experience, theoretically.

    But it’s amazing to me. You mean to tell me that Frank Miller didn’t read Omnibi of early Daredevil comics, and he didn’t read Absolutes of old Batman comics, and yet he was able to enjoy and under those characters so much that he could go on to write what he wrote? You mean there weren’t an $100 hardcovers of old Charleton characters for Alan Moore to purchase before writing Watchmen? Come to think of it, do we know whether Shakespeare owned gold-plated, leatherbound copies of Plutarch? Wow, amazing. I guess you don’t have to read books in a perfect format to actually get a lot out of them.

  33. ‘absoluted’. lol. that was awesome

  34. There’s no way I’m paying twice for the same content. I just don’t understand that mentality. For me it all depends on the circumstances when I discover a title and then I stick with that format. You guys are the ones who’ve exposed me to SiP, Y the Last Man, Ultimate Spider-man, Invincible, Fables, Scalped, Gotham Central, JLI, Scott Pilgrim, Queen & Country, and Proof. So I’m in trades on these titles and since Gotham Central & JLI are coming out in hardcover I’m getting those ’cause I don’t wanna spend the time to find the back issues or trades. I won’t be buying All Star Superman hardcovers…I already have the original issues and the extras in the back aren’t worth all that much to me. Perhaps there’s some perceived prestige with owning all those Absolute Editions….(shrug)

  35. @Josh If that’s the case w/ the trilogy, having those absolutes in between those GL & Sinestro bookends would look so sweet.

  36. I agree; however, a lot of these titles are books that I either read as they came out (advantages of working at an LCS, or friends had loaned me their copies. 

    Now, Rebirth is one that I might wait for in Absolute.  The art is gorgeous and I’d love to see it in that format.  I don’t own a copy yet, but I have read it.  All Star Superman I have also read. 

    Had it been collected into ONE hardcover, I’d already own it.  I don’t like having two volumes of a title that can easily be collected into one.  Hush was a perfect example of this.  I bought the absolute for the art, but it’s nice to see that it’s finally being collected into one trade volume, as it makes it a much easier book to recommend. 

    So many times people come looking for a book that’s split into two volumes, only to find that they aren’t both in stock.  We re-order fairly regularly, but volume 2s almost always hang on the shelves longer.


  37. If a super collected edition exist and I haven’r read it before I’ll buy it.  If It’s been out for a while and a collected edition is coming out and I haven’t read the story I’ll buy it.  However I try and buy monthly.  That is, unless my LCS doesn’t order enough and I may wait for a standard TPB.

  38. I should note that if I have NOT read something yet, waiting on a certain format is something that I dont’ do.

  39. I don’t own a single Absolute, and I have exactly one shelf of trades, most of which I never read in issues (Transmetropolitan, Camelot 3000, early Starman).  I collect comics for the stories, for the experience of going into the shop, week in and week out, no matter what and for the feeling of watching something onfold over time.  If I bought in trades, I would lose 2/3 of the experience.  I can see collecting for the format, for the love of the hardcover, but the feeling of holding a hardcover in my hands isn’t worth $75 to me.  I actually think that the feeling of watching the story unfold over time, from week to week, is more valuable.

  40. My only problem with formats are that I have to be consistent (still havent read All Star Superman because I’m waiting for Vol. 2 in paperback)

    I don’t see why anyone would go for an absolute or an omnibus without ever having read the series.  I’m all for trying a story with the cheapest version… with a few exception.  For instance, I’ve been reading Runaways in hardcovers because the smaller books don’t do justice to the art.  I’ve got the Astonishing X-Men Omnibus on my Amazon wish list, and I’m not sure why, especially since I never read it in issues and I’ve always been burned by X-Books.

    The only "premium" format book I have is Kingdom Come, and that’s because it was a gift.  As nice as those books are, $75-$100 (or less if you shop right) is just too much.  They’re great gifts, but I would never buy one for myself unless it was an excellent and limited-time deal.

  41. My problem was consistency. For example, I wanted to get the series in hardcover. However now the hardcover of the first volume is out of print. But then if I want it in softcover, the second volume isn’t coming out for another 6 months. Someone’s sending me it in issues, so I guess I’ll read those and wait for a Absolute. I think after B&R, the G-Mo-FQ team will have enough fanfare for a absolute.

  42. The only absurd overpriced format that I can think of is the Absolute.

    I don’t consider Marvels Omnibi to be overpriced when they can be bought for a discount.

    The Brubaker Captain America Omnibus was like $44.00 dollars on Amazon. That is 27 or 28 issues in a nice oversized format. That seems cost efficient to me. 

    However, most Absolutes are 12 issues . . . that is just costly in my opinion.

    I followed the "just read the book" advice last week.

    You bastards (a term of endearment) got me to pick up Blackest Night #1 and Green Lantern #44.

    So it looks like I am buying Blackest Night, Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps for this event.

  43. Yeah, I’m pissed for not buying the Capt. America omnibus when it was available.

  44. Are there people that avoid reading a story until the absolute edition comes out?  That seems costly and potentially wasteful.  I can understand having a specific enthusiasm for a story and becoming excited at the idea of a large, well produced, oversized volume, but rolling the dice on seventy-five dollars (at least!) doesn’t track.  No wonder you out cranked Jimski in this article. 

  45. Thanks for reminding me to pre-order ABSOLUTE GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH!

    Done and done!

  46. @amuldowney – lots of people aren’t buying the HARDCOVERS of All-Star Supmerman, in lieu of the chance of slightly larger, considerably more expensive, and as yet non-existent Absolute editions.

    @conor – You do it to hurt me.  What you people don’t understand is that Conor’s Absolute shelf is responsible for a good amount of continental drift, and climate change in much of the northern hemisphere.

  47. I don’t know if I want to buy Absolute Rebirth though. I like the story and I love Van Sciver’s art, but I don’t like story taht much.


    Nice piece though.

  48. @josh: I don’t know what’s worse. He gets high on the fact of Absolutes/Omnibus; or that he actually had to build his own shelves to put them somewhere in the first place.

  49. @ScorpionMasada~  Both DC and Marvel can be accused of overpricing some of the value of their collections.  The Iron Fist Omni that just came out comes to mind as a Marvel example.  It was $75 for like 18 or 19 issues.  Even if you look at their paperback programs, there are several trades from both companies that make you scratch your head.  If you do make the purchase, you can find BOTH Absolutes and Omnis discounted on several websites.

  50. I’d like some of the Absolutes, but I don’t have a book case big enough to hold them once I’m done 🙂

    I’m waiting for Old Man Logan is trade, cause I missed the first few issues, and want to read it in one go. I think the Hard cover is coming out first so I will be getting that.

     For most things I just buy the standard trade, unless there is a deal of the Hardcovers. I do get X-factor in hard covers, but that’s because I have a small amount of OCD and couldn’t look at my bookshelve if I had vol 1, 2, and 3 in hardcover and vol. 4 as a paper back.

     I can’t be the only one, surely the reason we have this hobby is we are all a little OCD, we like to keep track of a universe filled with hundreds of fictional characters, and think of ways to make things like the New Avengers and Amazing Spider-man time lines fit together. It’s all symptoms of the same sickness.

  51. For me the absolute edition is a mark of love.  For example, I bought all star superman in issues.  I bought the HC’s, and if they came out with an absolute edition, I would buy that.  The marvel omnibus’ though, I do purchase and wait for.  I bought and loved the first Bendis DD omni, and instead of tracking down and overpaying for the old out of print trades, I’m gona wait for the second.

  52. I have the first 3 Harry Potter books in tiny mass market paperbacks, dont’ have the 4th or 5th, and the giant hardcover of the 6th and 7th books.

    All three volumes of my Baroque Trilogy (possibly my favorite author) in 3 different versions, the 2nd volume being the hardcover that I got for $5 at a clearance table, before getting the 3rd in paperback again.

    The world spins on.

  53. Regarding All-Star Superman, I just want it all in one volume, hard or soft cover.

  54. @josh: For you the world spins. Everyone is different, though. I don’t begrudge anyone their picadillos. Life is tough enough.

  55. I almost exclusively buy the bigger hardcovers and omnis, with the exception of a few issues and trades here and there.  I collected each and every week for about 10 years in the 80’s and 90’s, but between a full time job, wife and kid, I don’t have the time that I used to for collecting and reading singles.  They also have a tendency to get scattered throughout the house, although I was pretty meticulous about keeping them in boxes. And I find that it’s much easier for me to sit down with a big book and read when I have the time. I’ve only recently gotten back into comics over the past 5 or 6 years, and I’ve had fun catching up on a ton of stuff with the big hardcovers that usually collect a years worth of books at a time.

    I also like that the hardcovers are much nicer looking when displayed on my bookshelf and I can find something quickly if I’m looking for it, but they also work out to be much cheaper than if the issues were purchased individually.   For instance, I bought the Ennis Punisher Omnibus $63 at Amazon, which works out to about $1.29/issue!  Because of this I don’t mind buying books that I haven’t read.


    Oh, and I actually did buy all of the singles of All-Star Superman at my LCBS when they came out!  I like Morrison and I’m a big fan of Quitely.  I’m also buying the singles of Batman & Robin and Wednesday Comics, so I’m not opposed to buying a few singles.  And if they come out with a big harcover collection, I’ll probably buy it. 🙂

  56. Amen Josh just buy the book.  I understand why people do trades but the logic is just more sound.

  57. This point may have been made already (everyone left Absolute Edition-sized comments) but I can understand not wanting to buy a book that you’d definitely want in an oversized version. As far as All Star Superman, if they’ve never read it at all they might be waiting for the vol. 2 trade to come out (apparently DC decided to make all the trades I want come out Feb. 9 2010.) Otherwise they might get stuck like me, waiting for a reprint of vol. 1 in hardcover. I know, I know, it’s available in TPB, but A) Quitely’s art requires some degree of oversizing (some of the word balloons do, too; my mom reads a lot of my books and her eyes aren’t so good) and B)… okay, I’m a little OCD about the format.

  58. BTW

    The Absolute Edition of this article just went up on Amazon for pre-orders 

  59. I agree with this whole heartedly, BUT my absolute New Frontier just came today from DCBS. My first. Yum…

  60. The Absolute New Frontier is a thing of beauty to be sure.

  61. @ josh – Ha, that’s similar to the format our Harry Potter copies are in, as well. My wife has the first five in the mass market paperback versions you refer to, and we have the last two in hardcover. Actually there are two copies of the last volume in our house because we both wanted to read it immediately upon it being released. Yes, I could go ahead and sell my copy, but then I wouldn’t have the permanent reminder of all the kids in the bookstore counting down to midnight like New Year’s Eve at Times Square and then squealing in delight as midnight struck and the boxes were finally opened. It was probably one of the most endearing book-related experiences I’ve had.

  62. @Josh Eh, to each their own.  I haven’t purchased the hardcovers because I don’t like a hardcover comic collection under a certain page count.  (Really.  It’s a quirk. We’ve all got them.)  They feel too much like my old copy of The Napping House or Quick as a Cricket when I read them.  I’m not waiting on an Absolute (although I’d buy one if it came out) but I’d appreciate one volume.  DC’s relatively new deluxe line is nice for that.  Either way, I’ve got the trades. I’d just do what I always do if I buy another format: give the old ones away to an enthusiastic newer reader. 

     @Conor: hear, hear.

  63. What PaulMontgomery said. If it’s an issue of wanting the art to be bigger, or wanting to read it in bulk (some HC contain several TPs) I’m fine with that. As for extras, at that price it needs to be a given. I like having a lot of the run to read, so I sometimes buy several TPs or a HC that collects a first season, or just buy a bunch of issues. It’s a gamble that I’m willing to take in order to read in bulk. Runaways HC vol. 1 was a hit, the entire ultimate fantastic four run plus 2 annuals and two "uff&u x-men" issues – mostly mediocre. USM – a miss, etc.

    Sure you can buy the two HC but some people want larger art, or to have it in one volume. Why not?

  64. @zeppo:  Now that you bring it up, when is Old Man Logan coming out in trade?  Is it in hardcover already?

    I still haven’t bought myself an Absolute edition of anything.  HUSH came to mind but I already have had those in paperback forever AND my library has the Absolute so I never bothered.  Maybe I’ll ask my mom & dad to get me Absolute Watchmen for Christmas though.  That would be cool to have because it is something that I would go back and read just to compare it to what happens in the movie all the time.  I still don’t have any copy of it yet either.

    I’m hardly ever the kind of guy who buys a trade of something I already have in issues unless it’s like one of my favorite Batman stories that I’ll read over and over again.  If you’re gonna read it a thousand times, then you might as well so you don’t bang up your copies of the issues taking them out of the bags and boards so much.  I have Grant Morrison’s The Black Glove in HC and I love it!!

    I love Preacher a lot and I have all nine of the paperbacks.  Those are plenty good enough for me so I’m keeping them.  Now Y: The Last Man on the other hand, I had to sell all 10 paperbacks on Ebay a while back because I had a warrant and I had to bail myself out.  I sold my copy of Killzone 2 on Ebay that weekend too!!  I’m so mad at myself!!  I decided to just wait for Killzone 3 to come out one day but I wish I still had all my Y: The Last Man books so I’m gonna slowly get them all back in the new hardcover format.  I think two of them are out already, plus each one contains two of the softcover volumes so I only need to buy five.  Those are definitely on my Xmas list!!

    What were we talking about again.  I forget.  Oh well, yeah.

    Oh yeah, another thing about trade waiting is that when it comes to mini-series, I think waiting for the hardcover is the way to go though.  Like the new Superman Secret Origins jont their about to do, and The Marvels, I think those would be best suited for trade waiting.  Now something I read every month like Detective or Batman & Robin, there ain’t no way I’m waiting that long just to get an introduction from somebody in the front and some sketches in the back.  I wanna read THOSE stories NOW!!

  65. I’m waiting for the second trade of all-star Superman, but only because it’s cheaper. For me money is the thing, not format, I have different sizes of all the "Sin City" stories, does it look wonkey on my shelf? Yes. Do I care? No. Did I save quite a bit of cash by going all wonkey? Oh you bet your butt I did. It’s more price then anything for me, if I know something is in hardcover, I"ll wait for the tradepaper, but if Vol. 3 of some series I’m reading is coming out and DCBS has a great discount that’s cheaper then the paperback would be, then yeah I’ll snag that.  

  66. You know, I honestly don’t care what format a story is in.  Whatever happens to be either the most expedient or cost effective format is what I get.  And I can switch between trades and singles like a mother.

  67. Absolute Green Lantern: Rebirth won’t get me to buy it, if they print Absolute Sinestro Corp and Blackest Night, that would be the point where I don’t have an option. I’d have to go get Rebirth also. I would have this thing clawing at the back of my mind until all 3 were present and accounted for. 

    At that point and more Green Lantern Absolutes, Corp or otherwise would be obtained also. I don’t collect much but if I started it would have to be complete, it would just bug me. 

  68. I think hardcovers make great gifts for infrequent/non comics readers. They like to hold it, they like to read from it and they like to show it off on their coffee tables.

     Like the Local hardcover. That thing is gorgeous. Go buy one to help out Ryan Kelly with his hospital bills.

  69. I buy about 70 issues a month through DCBS and never buy trades.  For ongoing and mini-series outside of continuity, I hold off on reading the single issues until I they’ve all come out.  (I had to hold on to Ultimate Wolverine vs Hulk for 2 years, but totally worth it to read it all together.)  This way I support the industry by buying the singles, can maintain my sadly enormous collection, but don’t feel burned on delayed books.

    Am I the only one who does this? 

  70. a good point to make, Josh. i agree. as long as the first packaging isn’t shitty.

    as good as a good hardcover can get, its worth nothing to you if you don’t like the source material. knowing that’s so, it’s normally better to know the material in comics before you pay the astronomical price for the hardcover [that was a pretty obvious thing to say, huh?]

    I had the first two trades of powers and loved it, then i waited for the 2nd definitive edition hardcover, bought it, and it turned out i didn’t like these stories at all. so even if you know the material it can turn sour.

    @anrcampbell: you probably are, my friend. but that said it does sound a pretty decent way of doing it. i’m a trade guy purely out of convenience.

  71. Are you trying to improve yourself as a man when it comes to buying oversized books?

    You know, like when a guy buys a really nice car. You know what I mean 😉

  72. @TNC All I have to add to this conversation is that The Monster at the End of This Book was my favorite book as a kid.

  73. Old Man Logan hardcover is slated for a November release.

    I just preordered it at a gold box discount with Amazon. Getting it for like 22 dollars or so . . .

    I love me some hardcover.

  74. Marvel does not seem to overprice their books.

    That Iron Fist Omnibus is currently $48.00 for 20 issues on Amazon. That is a good deal cheaper than issue price.

    This isn’t a DC vs. Marvel thing. I love DC comics.

    Fact is the Absolutes are simply absurdly overpriced.


  75. @Scorpion

    Marvel totally overprices. How about $35 for Old Man Logan? Or $30 for Secret Invasion. In fact let’s compare Marvel vs. DC on their event trades.

     Secret Invasion- 8 issues. 248 Pages

    Final Crisis- 9 Oversized issues 372 Pages

    Secret Invasion- Softcover

    Final Crisis- Hardcover

    Price- They are the same damn price.

     Or how about the Premium HC practice?

    Compare DC’s new Complete Hush, a 12 issue series for $25 to Irredeemable Ant-Man, same amount of issues, $35. 

  76. Dude, if you want to defend DC’s Absolutes at 12 issues each for 55-65 dollars discounted over Marvel’s Omnibi at 20-30 issues each for 45-55 dollars discounted, be my guest.

    As for the majority of the rest of the hardcovers, check Amazon’s prices right at this moment for DC/Marvel books.

    I pick up most of my Marvel Premier hardcovers for $13.50 at Amazon standard price.

    I pick up most of my DC hardcovers for 16.50 at Amazon standard price.


  77. Well you know, if you visit…

  78. When did I mention the Omnibi and Absolutes? You just mentioned their "books" and the majority of them are not Omnibii.

     And @dudevondoom

    Yeah we know.  

  79. And most of those cheap $13 HCs from Marvel have very few issues compared to their DC counterparts.

  80. My mistake, not VERY few, but usually less. 

  81. I think Absolutes are more oversized. I could be wrong, I don’t have any, but I have the Captain America (Brubaker) & Daredevil (Bendis) Omnibi. The Cap one doesn’t look that much oversized and I’m pretty sure DD is merely the regular sized page, printed over a blood-stained, black background to keep the size of the pages w/ the Omnibus format (which annoys me to no end; I might even eBay it. But, mostly due to that middle White Tiger arc w/ a different artist that was just pitiful [the story, not the artist]).
    I feel the same way about small hardcovers! A trade looks okay when it’s thin, but when it’s a HC, it makes it look like it’s a kid’s picture book or like the cover outweighs the pages.
    An odd analogy: it’s like a hard taco shell w/ very little meat, where you could wrap a burrito around the same amount of meat and it will at least appear to be more filled.

  82. The price of Old Man Logan is effing stupid.  That’s all there is to it.  That works out to something like $4.38/issue.  That’s absurd.

  83. ditto people JUST READ THE DAMN BOOK! got Allstar Superman vol 1 in soft cover and I just couldn’t wait any longer so I got Vol 2 in hard cover!! CEST LA VIE

    the only omnibus I might buy……… Wedon & Cassiday’s Astonishing X-men so so good(have all4 trades to boot)

  84. I couldn’t agree with Josh more. I have the run of Preacher in trades that I bought as they were released. I have read the whole run ten times. it’s my favorite series ever. But I don’t think I really need to re-buy it in hardcover. I doubt it will add anything to the experience. If something comes out in hardcover FIRST, I will probably get the hardcover. But i certainly won’t wait for a hardcover if there is a perfectly fine softcover available.

  85. This looks an interesting article, I’ll read it as soon as the giant version with extra features comes out.

  86. I’m not waitring for any of those…

    Hell, if I really want to read it I won’t wait for an Absolute. I really only want Absolutes for books I’ve already read and know are awesome.


    Yes, Y: The Last Man, I’m looking at you.

  87. Yeah, I don’t wait for Absolutes unless I already read it. Right now I do want the Watchmen and New Frontier Absolutes.

  88. I love HCs and prefer them, but I don’t need them.  I need to upgrade my Watchmen, The Dark Knight and probably my The Long Halloween because I re-read those constantly and they are starting to get wrecked.  I bought Y: The Last Man in issues, sold them all once they announced the HCs and am now upgrading.  I will do the same thing if they announce a Omnibus (more than one probably!) for Ultimate Spider-Man as I will re-read those and eventually (hopefully) my kids will enjoy them.

    Walking Dead I started reading in HCs (1 and 2) but switched to issues and have been selling my issues when (if) I can to buy HC 3 and 4.  Did the same thing with Local.  I would sell my All-Star Superman trades in a second for a Absolute!  Worse comes to worse and I can’t sell some issues, my local library will gladly take them. 

  89. I don’t have any absolutes. I just buy the floppy single issue or the softcover. Rarely the hardcover.

  90. I wish there was a way to trade in all your issues for the hardcover when it came out.  You would probably get more than what the hardcover is worth if you had some of the variants.

    I’m about to sell all my assorted issues of All Star Batman & Robin for the hardcover.  I got like 3 different versions of #1, three different versions of #2, two different #3s and #4s, and like at least one of every other issue.  One of my #1s is signed by Jim Lee too. I wonder what I could get for the set?  I could probably buy a couple hardcovers with all that.

  91. Normally, due to budgetting I go for the cheapest format to read my books in (almost always, that’s the soft-cover trade, which accounts for almost 75% of my comic book bookshelf). However, I cannot fault anyone at all for wanting to wait to get the best version of a product. If I had the money to be that way, then my bookshelf would be all hardcovers, hopefully most of those would be oversized! I do have one shelf on my bookshelf dedicated to the Absolutes and gorgeous, oversized hardcovers I have been able to get over the years and there is no doubt that is the shelf that looks the prettiest, most attractive. Another reason I prefer reading most things in trade is that I hate having stacks of longboxes around the house. I’d much rather have those stories easily accessible to me on my shelving. Going forward with this philosophy, it is only natural to want the best version of something. It’s why most people prefer In N’ Out burgers to those from McDonalds. Both burgers would do the job for filling your stomach, but the In N’ Out burger experience is much tastier, but granted, more expensive.

    Also, I’m like Ron and the others who MUST have a story all in the same format, so much so that I have all the Y: The Last Man trades on my shelf. One of the trades (for whatever reason) has a different spine format (the number of the trade is in a different place then the number on the other trades, there is no customary VERTIGO banner on the bottom of the spine, etc.). Even that makes me groan. I know it may seem silly, but I can’t help it!

    Man, writing this really makes me wish I had the money for oversized hardcovers, and quality hamburgers. Until then, softcovers and McD’s it is.

  92. Oh, zombox reminded me of one reason I do wait for larger editions. I’m following Y: the Last Man & Powers in hardcover ed. to limit myself. While I realize that the HCs are more expensive (obvious, but a Marvel pixie must’ve made me think otherwise when I picked up the Astonishing X-Men in 2 HCs instead of 4 TPBs thinking somehow that it costed less overall. A math whiz I am not), I now am forced to impatiently await the 2nd volumes (and each succeeding vol. after those) of both series, whereas I could blow all my money on the readily available TPBs, as I did with Sandman and Preacher. This way I have time to build up some spending money (which I so very much lack now) when the next HCs come out.
    … I just realized: I have problems.

  93. *3rd volumes, blast it!

  94. @JonSamuelson – The price of Old Man Logan HC is only "effing stupid" if you pay full price for it.  Pre-order it at a discount Amazon (or another place of your preference) who has it for $23.09.  That works out to $2.89 per issue.   

    So not only does that work out to LESS than the cost of the individual issues, but I’ll get a bunch of extras like pencils and scripts (that you may or may not care about) in a nice hardcover oversized book that will look good on the shelf.  That’s all there is to it.

  95. I only wish I could afford the Absolutes. $75 is awfully high. I have The Death and Return of Superman, but that was a gift. Damn nice gift though

  96. For people sweating over the price: 

    🙂 a giant discount and free shipping? I have to juggle the math to see where I would spend less money, and the savings don’t look too great. Absolute Sandman costs 99 USD without discount in Amazon. Here it costs 500 NIS (128 USD) and I’d have to pay delivery because I’m miles from my LCS.

    If I opt for Amazon’s discount there’s a big delivery fee, and customs to deal with. Appreciate what you have.

  97. To those of you upgrading your TPBs for special edition hardcovers please donate your old TPBs to your local public libraries.

     To those of you who can’t afford these special editions or even the regular edition collections of these stories, check out your local library. You may be surprised what’s in its collection (for instance, I’m catching up on the last three Fables trades, and the entire Osamu Tezuka Buddha series).

  98. Josh, you are correct. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of big-ass hardcovers. I will probably never buy an Absolute and I’m highly unlikely to buy an omnibus. The *only* reason I bought the Walking Dead compendium is because the Amazon discount was too good too pass up; I’m happy to buy the rest of the series in trade. I bought the Invincible hardcover for the same reason, but I’m not married to the format. All I care about is a good deal and a complete story.


  99. @Diabhol: I think the compendium book is a freak thing. I don’t think Image planned on waiting for 48 issues to be released and decide to put it in trade when the series started out. Plus how ridiculous would it be that someone waited over four years to get a single trade of the series so far?

    Enjoy reading those 48 issues for the next four years. That’s how long you’ll wait for another compendium.

  100. @TheNetxtChampion: Good thing I’m not planning on waiting for another compendium. Only reason I hadn’t picked up Walking Dead before the compendium came out is because I was busy buying *other* series.


  101. @Diabhol: Well I recommend that book to anyone who wants to get the series but not want to buy 10 seperate trades. I guess it’s a little flip flop on my part, but the compendium might be the best trade to come out this year.

    But I do want to find a person who actually waited for Image to collect the first 48 issues. Like they were expecting it.

  102. Im glad Josh brought up the subject of All Star Superman in this article because I want to say that I didnt start reading that series until it was almost over, sure I heard it was great but Im not a Morrison fan but when I finally decided to give the series a chance I bought the first issue in my LCS back issue bins. Having liked it so much(mostly due to Quitelys art) I decided to go back and get every issue until I was caught up. I dont see what the obsession is with having it collected, having it in issues is just as good, better even in my opinion. Buying the first trade and then waiting for the second one would have been way too hard. People need to just forget about if a certain book will look cool on their shelf and just buy the issues.

  103. @DarkKnightDetective: Some people prefer things all in one volume. Some don’t. It’s different strokes.

  104. I believe that the Absolute editions can make a story experience better. Remember that a book is a unique experience to every individual. Some people may just find it more worthwhile for their time and money to go the extra hog and get the most complete version possible. It’s easy to understand how that can be an important factor in people’s enjoyment of the whole story.

    The best analogy I can think of is like going to a swanky restaurant. You order your steak. It’s perfectly cooked and impeccably presented. The dish is a beautiful work of art. The accompanying wine that was picked specifically for that dish, the service, decor, lighting, and atmosphere complete the unique package.

    You could have the same cut of steak, cooked to your skill level, slapped on a plate with some potatoes dumped around the dish, at home, with a cheap wine or beer. It may still be good, but it’s not the best you’ve had it.

    That’s may be a crap analogy (I don’t really write a lot of them), but it kinda makes sense to me. I think. LOL-no more analogies for me! 

  105. Everyone is hating on hard covers (that I love) and that is ok but what about TPBs.  It seems to me that hardcovers often times come out before the TPBs.  If you are "trade waiting" for monetary purposes are because you missed some issues and just want a collected format it sometimes takes forever to get TPBs.  I think that as a whole, comic companies could do better at TPB and HC releases. (DC I’m looking at you).

  106. I think that things like Absolutes and Omnibuses should really be for the collector who has read that story already, in whatever format, and enjoyed it so much that it’s important to them to have this nice over-size hardcover on their shelf.  For me, I’ve got Absolute Dark Knight, Watchmen and the four volumes of Sandman (and will be getting Death), but that’s it.  To me, those are important, "classic" comics that deserve that format, as they’re important to the world of comics, as well, those are what showed me comics can be quite literate.  Certainly, there are other books that people would list as well, but to try out a book in those formats is assinine.  It makes no sense to spend $75-100 on a comic you’ve never read and perhaps even have had a pre-disposition to not liking in the past.  Buy the damn trade.  I’m quite open about my hating of DC’s trade policy where they take a year to put out the paperback if they release it in hardcover first, which is really most DC books these days except for the poorer selling ones.  People use those to get try out and even caught-up in a series, whether they then switch to monthlies or continue in trades.  They’re not going to spend $20-25 for a hardcover that only has six issues.  A $15 trade is probably more in their price range.  I wish DC and Marvel were using the trade policy Marvel used a few years back, when it would release a paperback collecting six issues or so and then once a year release a twelve issue, over-sized hardcover, like Nova is doing now.  That makes sense.  Releasing these toothpick-thin hardcovers is just silly.  Save the hardcovers for the special stuff, like Batman: Year Onet, not every book under the sun that sells reasonably well.  Offer the smaller paperbacks and then a larger hardcover that has more issues, and in some cases, like Sinestro Corps War, collects the entire run.  THEN maybe do an Absolute and Omnibus for the fans who are crazy about that series.  But no one should be buying those books JUST in Absolute and Omnibus format.  And DC and Marvel or anyone else shouldn’t be trying to market those to the average reader.  Those are for collectors and super-fans of those comics, and frankly, should only be done to comics that actually deserve it, and I mean not just because it sold well.  That comic means something and has staying value.  Conor says he won’t by the Absolute Superman: For Tomorrow and I’m sure many people wonder why Absolute Batman: Hush came out.  Really, the don’t need to.  Maybe they could have done an all-in-one hardcover (kind of like how there’s an all-in-one Hush paperback coming out), but I don’t care how lovely Jim Lee’s art is, those books didn’t deserve it.  Yes the oversize format allows people to drool even more over the art, but books that get that treatment at that price, it shouldn’t JUST be about the art.  A cheaper hardcover, maybe even over-size, will do for those.  Take New Frontier or Kingdom Come, yes the art is gorgeous, but the writing and story are just as good, creating a masterpriece if you will.  Absolutes should be like DVD’s Criterion Collection but for comics.  They only come out with the good stuff, the stuff that warrants special treatment.  Granted there are always oddities, as there are Criterion Collection versions of The Rock and Armageddon.

  107. hardcovers can sometimes jolt up excitement about a series that was seemingly forgotten, or the packaging could spur people on to read the book, because it seems a lot more attractive to them. packaging can work just like a cover.

  108. I’m with you for the most part Josh.  I’m kinda in the middle.  If I really like the creative team, and the content, and I’m behind on issues AND trades, then if there’s a murmur of an absolute or an omnibus, then I’ll probably wait for it.

    Plus, I’m a proccess junkie.  Being a comic creator, I love the bits and pieces and thought strokes that landed them the final version.  I love rough pencils and unused covers.  And I go back to them again and again.  That’s just me though.  I’m always trying to get the most bang for my buck.

    Great article.

  109. all my books are tpb witht he exception of two. one being V for vendetta, when i went to my shop to buy it i had two choices, paperback or hard cover, hard cover won but there was no waiting for the preferred choice. my 2nd hard cover is the absolute dark knight. but i had the tpb 1st which led me to buy the absolute edition because its just awesome. my point of view is…if theres and option to read a story you want to read now then don’t wasteyour time and just get on with reading it and if you like it that much buy the hard cover when its released 🙂