Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

I'm back! And reading! And maybe even blogging! No promises!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Basic Business Practices Hate Us All

Okay, normally I don't post things just to mock them. A little because I'd like to think I'm nicer than that. Mostly because, well, I don't really have a leg to stand on when it comes to saying silly things. But I spent the entire night in a panic after leaving my purse in my Business Enterprise class and had to wait until this morning to collect it from the Lost and Found (the janitorial staff is awesome) and thus I'm irrationally pissy and venting my irritation over that on something completely unrelated!

Anyway, this seems like a really dumb complaint.

WTF, DC? I’ve been supporting Trinity every week from the very beginning, and there are tens of thousands of other fans who have as well. Fifty-two issues at $2.99 each works out to a $155.48 commitment over a twelve month period to collect the entire series in pamphlet form. But apparently, had I just waited for the trades, I would only need to spend $89.97 to read the entire series in three volumes and saved myself $65.51.

Does that seem fair? It’s too late for me to switch formats from single issues to the trades. Marvel has been getting a lot of heat from fans about the number of $3.99 books they’ve been pushing lately. As annoying as the four-dollar price tag can be, it’s not nearly as annoying as the way DC is screwing me over with Trinity. basically, Mr. Henson is complaining that the compilation of the series you've already read is a LOWER price.

Because, you know, compilations are usually more expensive than the individual products separately...right? A boxed set of an anime series is much more expensive than buying the individual tapes/DVDs. An extra value meal costs more than the Big Mac, fries and coke separate...

Oh wait.

Look, I get being frustrated at the total cost of comic expenditure. I wince when I think about mine and I've cut my list back a lot. But the fact is, it's simple salesmanship. When you buy a collection, provided it isn't one of those fancy ones with the novelty box or whatnot, you're trading immediacy for convenience and value. It's the same logic behind combination meals or bulk supplies. Companies realize that the consumer, upon seeing the total price of a mass purchase, may well balk. So they drop the price a bit.

Does it suck for the person who buys individually? Well, yes. But that's the trade off. Trinity's a weekly comic, and it'll be on 49-52 when the first TP comes back. That means you got to read the beginning of the story almost a FULL YEAR before those people waiting for the TPB. Moreover, some of the folks buying the TPB may well have been reading regularly all along and just want it in a more durable/collectable format. (Especially if you're like me and inadvertently destructive enough to make serious collectors cry.) Considering that they're purchasing something that they've ALREADY bought and read, it seems like a fair trade-off to make it a little cheaper.

This doesn't even get into the fact that the flimsy monthly/weekly comics and TPBs are produced by different parts of the company. It may well be that the TPB bureaucrats would want to sell the individual issues cheaper, or that the single-issue folks would want to sell the compilations more expensively.

Really though, what's bringing out the cattiness in me is the level of fan-entitlement in the post. Yes, Mr. Henson, and me, and many other people are regular and loyal customers who faithfully spend way too much money on our hobbies. But you know what? They don't owe us anything.

Rinse and repeat: The companies DON'T OWE US ANYTHING.

We didn't sign any contract. They didn't promise us the comic book equivalent of frequent flyer miles. We're not long term partners and barring subscriptions (which are a whole other issue, pun unintended) we're not bound by any legal agreement or otherwise forcing us to continue to buy the product.

The depth of our relationship to the companies is this: we give money. We get comic.

Hell, they don't even have to give us a GOOD comic. Sure, we can bitch, but it's not like we have grounds for a lawsuit. The most we can do if we're unsatisfied is stop buying the damn comic.

Yes, it does suck to have spent that much money on anything to turn around and have it available for cheaper after the fact. But there's no point in acting all wounded and betrayed about it. It's life. Wait for the TPB next time. Or don't buy it at all.

Sheesh. :-)


  • At February 20, 2009 9:19 AM, Blogger running42k said…

    The compilation probably costs less to make as well. A single cover, a single print run for all issues included in the book, ships along with the weekly books, etc. That and you are selling a re-run so to speak. So essentially the companies probably make more money on the compilation books then the weekly books.

  • At February 20, 2009 9:39 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    You ever get the feeling that if these people weren't whining about their comics, they would be whining about something else. Like, y'know, how awful it is to pay full price for ham salad, when after it's expired, it costs less? It's just unfair!

    Mmmmmm...expired ham salad...!

  • At February 20, 2009 12:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What gets me are the number of people who complain about how bad a given comic is, but continue to buy it. What's the number one reason for creative teams being reshuffled, series taking on new directions, or just flat-out cancelations? Low sales. If it sucks, don't buy it.

    At risk of dating myself, do they even teach economics in high school any more?

    -- Jack of Spades

  • At February 20, 2009 1:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    very rarely.

    That said. Complaints about DC's creative direction is why I stopped buying- for now. Don't like giving up on GLC and JSA, but I have to make a stand.

    I just hope DC doesn't end up like some other time warner subsidiary that feel about at the start of this decade.

    Hint: Dan Didio is to DC as Vince Russo was to this company.

  • At February 20, 2009 3:48 PM, Blogger Michael May said…

    THANK you. As someone who read the first few issues of Trinity and decided to wait for the trade, my only response to that complaint is, "Sucker."

  • At February 20, 2009 4:08 PM, Blogger Jer said…

    But that's the trade off. Trinity's a weekly comic, and it'll be on 49-52 when the first TP comes back. That means you got to read the beginning of the story almost a FULL YEAR before those people waiting for the TPB.

    People who are buying week to week are paying for the privilege of getting the story immediately. People (like me) who wait for the collection are choosing to value something other than immediacy in our purchase choices.

    Collections are cheaper, because a lot of the up-front costs are covered by the initial publication - reprints of previously published material are, barring special "premium" formats always cheaper than the initial publication.

    This is simple monopolistic pricing stuff - set a price that will get you a chunk of the market, then when you've captured that market lower the price to get another chunk. Repeat until you reach a point where it's no longer profitable to lower the price to capture more market.

    I think where people get tripped up is that they don't think of the pamphlet format as the "premium" format - they view collections as the superior, more expensive format and the pamphlets as the cheap thing you buy to save money. But in today's market that's completely backwards - the premium on pamphlets is immediacy - those of us who wait have to wait up to a year before we can read the story published in pamphlet form (those of us who wait for actually paperback collections over hardcover ones wait even longer).

    If the immediacy of the book is not worth the money to you stop buying the monthly books. The comics companies are going to continue publishing monthly books in this model until it is no longer profitable for them to do so - handing them money to publish something you think is a bad value is not a way to get them to change their behavior.

    And yeah, whining because some of us "get a deal" by waiting is just annoying - my decision to skip things like Trinity and wait for the trade leads to mild inconveniences on my side - I couldn't participate in any discussions about "52", for example, because I was waiting until it was finished and didn't want the spoilers. So there's a trade off, and the folks who wait don't get all of the benefits (though on the whole, I think it's better to wait, so now I am for everything - no more monthly comics for the first time in years...)

  • At February 20, 2009 6:30 PM, Blogger The one letter wonder said…

    well put =D

  • At February 22, 2009 6:57 AM, Blogger James Ashelford said…

    It all seems like the complaint of those who hunt down supermarket employees to ask this utterly stupid question:

    "This is buy one get one free so if I just buy one is it half price?"

    No, no it isn't, now leave, you burk!

    Rant ends. Peace out.

    And we don't get economics in British high schools but this principal gets covered in Media Studies.


Post a Comment

<< Home