Thursday, December 18, 2003

A tale of two prices: Now here's how to attract new readers. ICv2 has discovered that Marvel is charging $2.99 for many of its comics at newsstand outlets, while selling the same titles for $2.25 in the direct market.

It's, of course, a matter of profitability -- figuring printing costs and rate of return -- but I can't help but think Marvel may be shooting itself in the foot (again) by putting comics even further out of the reach of potential new readers. As slaves to the direct market over the past couple of decades, we've resigned ourselves to paying outrageous prices for a 32-page comic. But that's not the case for the potential new reader ("impulse buyer") passing by the magazine shelves at, say, Wal-Mart. That cover price undoubtedly will make him flinch. For $2.99, he can buy a magazine -- or lunch at McDonald's (conveniently located at the front of the store).