Manufacturers Can Force Minimum Pricing

Some months ago, Diamond started switching its labels in the order book from “$2.99″ to “SRP $2.99″, for Suggested Retail Price. That’s because, until today, it was illegal for a manufacturer or distributor to force retailers to sell at a minimum price. Today, the newly conservative Supreme Court threw out that 96-year-old rule.

The decision will give producers significantly more leeway, though not unlimited power, to dictate retail prices and to restrict the flexibility of discounters…. [F]our dissenting justices agreed with the submission of 37 states and consumer groups that the abandonment of the old rule would lead to significantly higher prices and less competition for consumer and other goods.

So why should you care? Because direct market shops traditionally have used the discount to create long-term customers through pull-and-hold services. Before, it was illegal for, say, Marvel Comics to say “you must sell our comics at cover price, or we will stop selling to you.” Now? Who knows. Probably nothing, given how slow comic companies are to react.

12 Responses to “Manufacturers Can Force Minimum Pricing”

  1. Seth Says:

    Matt Fraction seems to think that the big two will make themselves irrelevant by ignoring the bookstores and catering too much to the direct market.

  2. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » June 29, 2007: Coursin’ frew Keef’s veins Says:

    […] (First link via Johanna Draper Carlson.) […]

  3. Thom Says:

    I am a bit concerned as to what this will do for CD and DVD prices. For a large # of DVDs, the technical suggested retail price is still around $29.99-even if, say, Best Buy sells it for $14.99.

  4. scott h Says:

    If you watch the video I dont think that is what he is saying at all.

  5. In Brief… « In One Ear… Says:

    […] (How does this impact comics?  Maybe it won’t but here is both Simon @ Icarus Publishing and Johanna @ Comics Worth Reading  thoughts…and yeah…this is a […]

  6. Says:

    Please. I don’t think even comic book companies are suicidal enough to start pulling their books out of stores that discount them. Marvel and DC get the same amount of money no matter what price stores choose to sell books at, and none of the traditional reasons to enforce a price minimum – to be percieved as a luxury item, to avoid undercutting their own retail operation, or an Apple-like branding strategy – apply to funnybooks. This will have absolutely no effect.

    (Similarly, CD and DVD makers wouldn’t get involved either, especially since the music business is well aware their SRP is seen as insanely overpriced.)

  7. Johanna Says:

    One possibility that’s been speculated about is using this to restrict online deep discounters. DC and Marvel might want to do so in order to protect their direct market base.

  8. Craig Says:

    They’re going to protect the direct market base by pulling out of Amazon and the like? Just take the most lucrative and growing market segment (graphic novels) and kneecap it? Again, I can’t see why DC or Marvel would be moved to act on this ruling at all.

  9. MangaBlog » Blog Archive » Eden: Not so endless? Says:

    […] Last week, the court struck down a ban on minimum pricing. What does this mean to you and me? Johanna Draper Carlson and Simon Jones speculated last week that this may affect online retailers who offer deep […]

  10. ¡Opresión del Norte! « ¡Operación Mandril! Says:

    […] del Norte! 2 07 2007 por Arturo Sarmiento y nos alertan de este artículo en el New York Times, acerca del fin de la prohibición a fabricantes […]

  11. More on Minimum Pricing » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] week, we were speculating on why someone might want to force a minimum price in […]

  12. Funnybook Babylon Says:

    Why does this matter to the comics industry? According to two blogs, one maintained by Icarus Publishing, and “Comics Worth Reading”, it does, and is a potential tool to blunt the growing influence of online retailers. With all due respect to both sites, that view relies on an overly broad interpretation of the case.




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