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  1. #16
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ascended View Post
    Anyway, no, cheaper quality paper or digital won't impact the cover price much. Digital's potential is in reaching a wider audience, not a considerably lower price point.
    The rule of thumb I had for earlier physical distribution channels was that the retailer got half of the cover price, the distributor half of that, and the publisher the rest. That also fits reasonably with how Amazon managed to undercut everyone else in the book market, by laying claim to both the retailer and the distributor parts of the pie.

    I'm not sure how well that fits with the direct market for comics, but I doubt it's that dissimilar.

    So the main difference for digital comics isn't the distribution (though it is cheaper—warehouse space do have costs) but in the disintermediation between publisher, distributor, and retailer. Of course, Comixology being part of Amazon, they will happily lay claim to 70% of the cover price for their own.

    In a way, I think the comics publishers would go far better to turn towards Apple and Google. The 30% cut they take may look like a lot, but they're far better partners than Amazon.
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  2. #17
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    The rule of thumb I had for earlier physical distribution channels was that the retailer got half of the cover price, the distributor half of that, and the publisher the rest. That also fits reasonably with how Amazon managed to undercut everyone else in the book market, by laying claim to both the retailer and the distributor parts of the pie.

    I'm not sure how well that fits with the direct market for comics, but I doubt it's that dissimilar.

    So the main difference for digital comics isn't the distribution (though it is cheaper—warehouse space do have costs) but in the disintermediation between publisher, distributor, and retailer. Of course, Comixology being part of Amazon, they will happily lay claim to 70% of the cover price for their own.

    In a way, I think the comics publishers would go far better to turn towards Apple and Google. The 30% cut they take may look like a lot, but they're far better partners than Amazon.
    Distribution probably follows close to that rule of thumb, I'd wager. Which would mean the print cost is probably closer to ten cents per issue, like I think I heard....wherever I heard it.
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  3. #18
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    Perhaps I misunderstood, but it seemed to me DiDio contradicted himself in one answer. He was asked about prices and first said (not verbatim):

    1. The price doesn't matter, because if you are a fan you are going to buy it regardless

    But then:

    2. If they raise the price, fewer will be sold. If they lower the price, more will be sold. So it comes out the same either way. That said, they would rather have more rather than fewer readers.

    I dunno - maybe he is saying the expanding and shrinking of the sales refers only to casual fans? That the core readership will be there either way, and the less committed readership is sensitive to price changes?

    Maybe he said that and I missed it. The man has a lot to say .

    He says here that he believes content, not form, matters to the readership. Maybe true, maybe wishful thinking - the debate rages and the future will tell. But he wasn't faced with making the tough choices for April, and wasn't directly asked what he'd have done right now. Nor would he have answered.

  4. #19
    Astonishing Member MRP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ohfellow View Post
    Perhaps I misunderstood, but it seemed to me DiDio contradicted himself in one answer. He was asked about prices and first said (not verbatim):

    1. The price doesn't matter, because if you are a fan you are going to buy it regardless

    But then:

    2. If they raise the price, fewer will be sold. If they lower the price, more will be sold. So it comes out the same either way. That said, they would rather have more rather than fewer readers.

    I dunno - maybe he is saying the expanding and shrinking of the sales refers only to casual fans? That the core readership will be there either way, and the less committed readership is sensitive to price changes?

    Maybe he said that and I missed it. The man has a lot to say .

    He says here that he believes content, not form, matters to the readership. Maybe true, maybe wishful thinking - the debate rages and the future will tell. But he wasn't faced with making the tough choices for April, and wasn't directly asked what he'd have done right now. Nor would he have answered.
    Part of that is the non-returnable nature of the market and the cash flow available to retailers.Remember, it is the retailer that is the customer of Diamond, not the end reader. If a retailer is placing his order for a $3.99 comics, and he has 20 preorders for it, sells an average of 5 shelf copies on the on sale date and 5-10 copies over the next month, he will order at least 35 copies, but more likely 40 copies but will take the risk-reward chance on a few extra copies as they do not over-extend his cash flow. He may only sell 35, but the publisher has sold 40 copies of it. Multiply that by x number of Diamond accounts, and that adds up to a chunk of copies.

    Same retailer, now ordering a $9.99 books. If he has the same 20 preorders and 5 day of release sales, he may only order 30 copies instead, so 5 he will likely sell over the next month, but no extras just in case like he did with the $3.99 book, because the buy in is higher and the risk is higher than the reward.

    Go to a $19.99 book with the same 20 preorders and 5 day of release sales, and he may only order 25 copies as the $19.99 price tag is too much risk to his cash flow to have unsold copies.

    In all 3 cases, the same number of end customers are buying the product regardless of price-the core audience of pre-orders and day of release purchasers, they are price blind so to speak if it is a product they want. However, the retailer, who ultimately decided how many copies are ordered, is going to become more risk averse the higher the price point. They will still order enough copies to satisfy the immediate demand of the price-blind core audience, they will not however, order stock copies for potential sales down the road. If the pattern holds true more often than not, and each account is ordering say 5-10 copies less with each price increase, the amount sold to the core audience is not decreasing, but overall sales are.

    Those Diamond sales charts do not measure sales to end customers. They measure sales to retailers regardless if copies ever reach end customers. However, the higher the price point, the more likely it is that the number ordered gets closer to the exact number of end customers the retailer has for it via pre-orders and day of release sale copies.

    So assuming 500 Diamond accounts as a round number, if each is order 5-10 extra copies of $3.99 books they don't of a $19.99 book, that's a significant drop in sales without one fewer regular/core end customer buying the book.

    The non-returnable nature of the industry acts as an obstacle to growth because all the risk is on retailers who have to buy more copies than they typically sell if there is going to be copies available for a new customer to buy to expand sales. New customers aren't going to be pre-order customers at first, so if you have no copies beyond pre-orders and day of release sales, you have no potential for growth. However, with so many books being released, stocking extra copies that may not sell exposes retailers to threats to their cash flow. The higher the price point, the higher the risk to stock extra copies, the less likely they are going to stock extra copies for potential new customers.

    This is where the book trade has a distinct advantage over the direct market, as those higher price point products are returnable in the book trade, sellers can stock copies for potential new customers to buy without assuming the risk a direct market seller does. And a mass market book store is also more likely to get foot traffic that are not already core comic customers who may become new comic customers. It's one reason (not the only one and not the main one) that comic sales in the book trade saw 16% growth last year while the direct market was shrinking. The direct market was designed to sell comics to people who already knew they wanted comics. That was the market need Phil Seuling and friends were trying to fill when they created the direct market. It's market model wasn't designed as a growth market, i.e. a market to attract new customers who aren't already comics buyers, and the direct market never evolved the mechanisms or infrastructure to service that sector of the market without putting its retailers at undue risk, the result of it was an inevitable entropy in the market because there was not enough new customers coming in to replace the customers it lost for whatever reason. It's also what is going to be a major obstacle to the recovery of the market post pandemic hiatus as cash flows will be severely limited at first on the other side and retailers will have to be extremely conservative and risk-averse in their ordering until their cash flow is more secure. Making books returnable, offering smaller slates of books, etc. will all help address that concern, but that means margins and revenue streams will be smaller for publishers.

    The problem with predicting what the market will look like afterwards or having specific strategies for dealing with it is that no one knows. How many Diamond accounts will there be post-pandemic? How many publishers who have given pencil down orders will still be around to give pencil up orders? How many creators will be forced to seek work in other media or creative fields to make ends meet in the interregnum? Until some of those questions are answered, or the image of what will be becomes clearer, any specific strategy is just wishful thinking, as it will likely be obsolete before implemented or will fail on first contact with the "enemy" so to speak. Right now, the strategy has to be focused on assessing so that any plan will reflect what the landscape actually is after this current situation is over and done, and nobody knows that right now. The likelihood of it being the same as it was is slim. There will be a new normal, but no one knows exactly what that will be yet, so specifics are going to be few and far between, even from people who have experience navigating the old landscape.


    -M
    Last edited by MRP; 04-07-2020 at 12:54 PM.
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  5. #20
    Fantastic Member The no face guy's Avatar
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    I totally disagree with Dan Didio on the consumer being price insensitive. I purchase the comics I really like, and read the rest online for free, because I do not want to be paying $50.00 dollars a month to be reading 12 series, and I am an older comic reader, so what does that mean for young teenage readers?

    If your 14 years old, and you can only afford three titles a month, is that going to be enough to entice you into the DC universe, than say the teenagers of the 80's and 90's who could easily afford ten titles? Small wonder there is so many middle aged comic fans.

    Plus he openly states that they have less of a casual reader because of distribution, and implicitly states that prices are higher to make up for that shortfall. I'm a casual reader, not a collector!!! I read everything digitized, comics take up space and are not worth much collector wise today. If there were creative minds at DC thinking about how they can expand distribution, than they would probably have a lot more casual readers!

    I really hope Didio's thinking is not the status quo at DC and Marvel, because if it is, lights out for comics.

  6. #21
    Chad Jar Jar Pinsir's Avatar
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    Yeah, I'm thinking he's based!
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  7. #22
    Fantastic Member Dr. Ellingham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The no face guy View Post
    I totally disagree with Dan Didio on the consumer being price insensitive. I purchase the comics I really like, and read the rest online for free, because I do not want to be paying $50.00 dollars a month to be reading 12 series
    I haven't seen the interview, but I doubt it's a 100% fixed rule. But there is truth in it. Example:

    If they made the Fortnite video game $200 per year to play, a large percentage of existing fans would sign up. A year later, if they come out with similar games and reduced Fortnite to $50 to entice the same audience to sign up for their other games too, most of the existing fans would just spend the $50 on Fortnite and ignore the others. Basically, reducing price doesn't increase revenue.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by ohfellow View Post
    Perhaps I misunderstood, but it seemed to me DiDio contradicted himself in one answer. He was asked about prices and first said (not verbatim):

    1. The price doesn't matter, because if you are a fan you are going to buy it regardless
    That is where he is wrong.

    Not all fans will buy something because they are a fan of it. Yeah even with that high price for books there are those who will do that no matter how bad the story is (HI Heroes in Crisis).

    However there are factors that will cause a stop to that.

    Folks are going to pay for something at the PRICE they are willing to do so.

    The issue with comics in most areas is that there are too many places to get them beside the comic book store if you choose to wait. And that is not accounting online.

    How much does the LCS lose when Barnes & Nobles does DC/Image or Marvel trade sales buy 1`get 1 or buy 2 and get 1? Especially for guys like Batman. Who are assured of a shelf spot.

    Pretty much anyone who has been on tv or in a movie as a lead has stuff there.



    He may only sell 35, but the publisher has sold 40 copies of it. Multiply that by x number of Diamond accounts, and that adds up to a chunk of copies.
    That is why you need to be selective in how much you order no mater how many limited variants or perks DC (and Marvel, Archie & Dynamite ) do.

    One of the stores I shop has all 7 printings of Star Wars. What sense did that make?

    Yet this is the same store that can't keep Image & Valiant books in stock because they order so few copies. Savage Dragon STAYS sold out. You could not complete an arc of any of those books because that is how fast they sell out.

    I think Green Lantern, Flash & Doom Patrol for DC and Moon Girl & Miles (first printings) were the only ones who could do the same.

    Go to a $19.99 book with the same 20 preorders and 5 day of release sales, and he may only order 15 copies as the $19.99 price tag is too much risk to his cash flow to have unsold copies.
    I think trades are easier to reorder and most of the stores I go to might order no more than 2-5 copies for the stores.
    One store I go to it might be a YEAR before they reorder Batman trades but had to reorder Saga, Squirrel Girl, Moon Girl, Gotham Academy and those type of books 4-6 months.

  9. #24
    Fantastic Member The no face guy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pinsir View Post
    Yeah, I'm thinking he's based!
    Me to. BTW love your avatar Jar Jar on steroids.



    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Ellingham View Post
    I haven't seen the interview, but I doubt it's a 100% fixed rule. But there is truth in it. Example:

    If they made the Fortnite video game $200 per year to play, a large percentage of existing fans would sign up. A year later, if they come out with similar games and reduced Fortnite to $50 to entice the same audience to sign up for their other games too, most of the existing fans would just spend the $50 on Fortnite and ignore the others. Basically, reducing price doesn't increase revenue.
    I hear what your saying, but I think comics are different in that most people want to read a variety of characters on a monthly basis. Will there be those that will just continue to read Batman and Superman and nothing else, sure, but I think with the proper distribution, the majority will read more titles. I can however, only speak for myself and people I know. I currently read 11 titles but only pay for 5 or 6. I'm looking at about $30 dollars per month, I stream read the rest for free, and although I am a longtime DC fan...they currently are not getting the most of my revenue.

  10. #25
    Mighty Member Vampire Savior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The no face guy View Post
    I totally disagree with Dan Didio on the consumer being price insensitive. I purchase the comics I really like, and read the rest online for free, because I do not want to be paying $50.00 dollars a month to be reading 12 series, and I am an older comic reader, so what does that mean for young teenage readers?

    If your 14 years old, and you can only afford three titles a month, is that going to be enough to entice you into the DC universe, than say the teenagers of the 80's and 90's who could easily afford ten titles? Small wonder there is so many middle aged comic fans.

    Plus he openly states that they have less of a casual reader because of distribution, and implicitly states that prices are higher to make up for that shortfall. I'm a casual reader, not a collector!!! I read everything digitized, comics take up space and are not worth much collector wise today. If there were creative minds at DC thinking about how they can expand distribution, than they would probably have a lot more casual readers!

    I really hope Didio's thinking is not the status quo at DC and Marvel, because if it is, lights out for comics.
    I don't know whatever research DiDio did, but it is really dangerous to think that your customers will buy your products regardless of price, or regardless of whatever. Personally, I stopped buying all DC products under DiDio's tenure (and haven't bought one since) because I felt taken for granted as a consumer and reader. It seemed to me that the people making the comics felt they could just do anything, barf out bad stories that even contradicted themselves, or didn't even finish, and then sell it them with high price tags. It really seemed to me that they thought they could just get away with this, and I was even disappointed with the fans in general because they facilitated it. Anyway, I did my part and just stopped purchasing the stuff.

    DiDio, might be right to a degree in that some of these comics fans will just buy whatever at whatever price point, so long as it has a character they like, or is a series they have been following for a long time, but what he doesn't consider is you're not going to grow your readership conducting business like that. 45 year old man might buy x comic book for 5 dollars because he's been buying it for 38 years, but not many other people are going to do that, and as for me, I guess I wasn't loyal enough...or "core" enough, as he puts it, (or dumb enough, as I put it) to put up with the types of things the company was doing creatively and the types of prices they were selling their products for. I wasn't enjoying them enough to pay for that.

  11. #26
    Fantastic Member The no face guy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vampire Savior View Post
    I don't know whatever research DiDio did, but it is really dangerous to think that your customers will buy your products regardless of price, or regardless of whatever. Personally, I stopped buying all DC products under DiDio's tenure (and haven't bought one since) because I felt taken for granted as a consumer and reader. It seemed to me that the people making the comics felt they could just do anything, barf out bad stories that even contradicted themselves, or didn't even finish, and then sell it them with high price tags. It really seemed to me that they thought they could just get away with this, and I was even disappointed with the fans in general because they facilitated it. Anyway, I did my part and just stopped purchasing the stuff.

    DiDio, might be right to a degree in that some of these comics fans will just buy whatever at whatever price point, so long as it has a character they like, or is a series they have been following for a long time, but what he doesn't consider is you're not going to grow your readership conducting business like that. 45 year old man might buy x comic book for 5 dollars because he's been buying it for 38 years, but not many other people are going to do that, and as for me, I guess I wasn't loyal enough...or "core" enough, as he puts it, (or dumb enough, as I put it) to put up with the types of things the company was doing creatively and the types of prices they were selling their products for. I wasn't enjoying them enough to pay for that.
    That is a good point! If you keep raising the price to make up for declining readership, and than start pumping out garbage, the readership is going to become less tolerant of low quality and leave. Did anyone really enjoy buying a badly written mini series that saw one of their favourite heroes (Wally West) go insane and murder his best friend? How many alienated Wally fans said, "Screw this! why am I paying over $25 dollars per month on comics and quit?

    D.C. is still writing quality (at the lets say $2.50 and under price point), when people were willing to tolerate bad story archs designed to boost profit. The danger now being with comic prices so high, you are most likely going to permanently lose readers when you alienate them with bad stories, or tamper with their favourite characters.

  12. #27
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    When he said you only have to know the first appearance and last appearance of a given character, I was like "wow, no wonder DC doesn't have any sort of handle on its continuity right now."

  13. #28
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The no face guy View Post
    I hear what your saying, but I think comics are different in that most people want to read a variety of characters on a monthly basis. Will there be those that will just continue to read Batman and Superman and nothing else, sure, but I think with the proper distribution, the majority will read more titles.
    @ bolded: that's the rub.

    With the *right distribution* DC could sell a ton of material at a wide range of price points to a wide range of audiences.

    But they don't have the right distribution. They have the direct market. Within the direct market, we generally have mostly established, adult readers who have been reading for years and have disposable income. People like me. When I started, comics were $1.50. Now they're 3.99 (or more). I still buy what I want, and ignore the rest, because I can absorb that cost without it impacting the rest of my life or expenses. Marvel does those dollar comic re-prints, and you know how many I buy? None. Because I'm not interested. The completely free promos the LCS distributes, I leave on the counter. Because I'm not interested. Free comic book day? Most of those I don't get either, because I'm usually not interested.

    If DC cut their price point, I *might* get an extra book or two. If there's a title that's decent-ish, I *might* get it, for a lower cost. Maybe. But if it's only decent-ish, I probably will drop it anyway, even if it was quite cheap.

    That's what Didio means by price insensitive. I can afford a 4 dollar comic and I've been following "character X" for twenty+ years, so I'll pay 4 dollars for that comic. But I've never been big on "character Y" so odds are I'm not buying character Y even if it was free. And brand new "character Z" will get a chance if it looks good, but only if it looks good, regardless of price.

    The direct market is insular and not growing, nor is it likely to grow (granted, with things as they are who the hell knows what the future holds). So this kind of mindset isn't really hurting them. The price point is not the problem so much as it's impacted by the actual problems.

    Beyond the LCS, the pricing and content carries more weight. But Didio wasn't talking about those other distributions where DC barely has a foot hold, he was talking about the direct market.
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  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRP View Post
    I think my favorite part was the anecdote he told about talking to Julie Schwartz and Schwartz telling him you have to take super-hero universes and give them an enema every ten years or so to wash away all the accumulated crap and give them a fresh start, which I find ironic and interesting-Schwartz did just that wit the dawn of the Silver Age, but many people/fans point to the creation of Earth- 2 under his watch as a rationale for trying to keep every little bit of story told with the characters "continuity" and never discarding anything.

    But whether you like him or not, Didio had a lot of interesting insights that are food for thought even if you disagree with him on some of them.

    -M
    That was brilliant advice from Mr. Schwartz.

    I wish DC had listened.

    If DC has fresh-started/rebooted every decade or so, then I think DC would be more enjoyable now.

  15. #30
    Amazing Member captchuck's Avatar
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    I think most of us are very price sensitive. If I want to spend $25 a week on comics, that's going to limit me to 6 books a week. If they go up to $8 per book, I may stop buying altogether because I won't get enough entertainment out of three books to make me want to drive to the store. There has to be some entertainment value compared to what you're spending in cash and time and gas to make it worthwhile to drive to the comic book store.

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