Updated on December 10, 2021
A few days ago, DC Comics announced that starting with this month’s “Batman” (vol. 2) #35 and its “Endgame” storyline, it’s raising the price on Batman’s book by a dollar. With the price increase will come a page count increase to 30 pages of story per issue (up from 22 or so).
A far cry from a few years ago, just before the New 52 reboot, when DC promised in an ad campaign to “hold the line at $2.99,” lowering the price on a few $3.99 books to $2.99. Not that that did much for sales, I suppose—or enough to hold off on the reboot later in 2011.
As I noted a few years ago, comics have far outstripped the pace of inflation in terms of price increases. I’ll assume it won’t be long before other books join the new pricing tier of “Batman.” I also have to ask again how feasible superhero comics’ inflated prices are in the long run. Even the most ardent Bat-fan will probably have to consider dropping another book to cover the cost increase, which doesn’t help the mediocre sales of comics. It also just reminds one that other forms of entertainment would be much more cost-effective (actual books, Netflix, video games, etc.) and still feature the same superhero characters. It also raises questions what happens if, or more likely when, they raise the price to $6 for a single issue without a significantly increased (magazine- or Archie digest-sized) page count.
On a related note, The Outhouse made some interesting comments on the nature of waiting for the trade paperback to save money on comics, versus buying the single issues. If publishers really will cancel a comic because the singles don’t sell, despite everything written “for the trade”/the increased single-issue prices becoming increasingly unfeasible, I think it says more about their business model’s problems than customers.
Worst case scenario, I suppose, is seeing DC or Marvel (probably DC) decide that print single-issue comics aren’t worth it anymore, and/or realize that they can satisfy their “intellectual property farm” needs with just their movie/animation/etc. sides. Cue their deciding to either stop printing comics entirely, or decide to only publish a handful of digital-only single issue comics that’re later collected into print trade paperback form.
(Update 10/8/14) After some pleading by, among others, the current creative staff on “Batman,” DC’s decided to go back to a $3.99 price point after this month’s issue. For now, anyway. Think what I wrote above still stands—it won’t be long before single issue comics go up to $5 permanently, and such a business model isn’t feasible in the long run.
Anthony Dean is the owner of Diverse Tech Geek and Diverse Media Notes.