- Posted by Johanna on May 13, 2008 at 8:09 pm
- Category: LinkBlogging
Tom Spurgeon started it, kicking off with the feeling that $19 for 5 comics was too much. (Many of us sympathize, but we’re hooked on the habit.) He went on to consider pricing as it relates to various factions of the comic buying audience.
Surely the average, desirable, expected comics customer since the early ’80s — the person that pops to mind when someone says “comics reader” — is a person that buys a number of comics instead of just one or two. Here’s the thing: the price of serial comics right now makes sense for the reader that only buys one or two comics.
He also compares price points to a popular competitor for the customer dollar, manga.
A lot of folks seem to feel that buying x-amount of dollars in manga has a better chance to give you a more rewarding experience than buying x-amount of dollars in American comic books.
I certainly feel that way. Even when a manga volume is fully serialized — bringing you into the story in medias res and leaving you with a cliffhanger — there’s enough other stuff happening in the almost 200 pages to satisfy. When the same is true of a $3 (or more frequently these days, $4 due to a harder paper cover) American comic with 20+ pages of story, well, that just feels useless.
Spurgeon goes on to draw bigger conclusions as they result to the lack of ability for creators to develop their own visions and reputations outside of the superhero corporate structure. I don’t want to misrepresent him, so I encourage you to read it for yourself.
Alan David Doane connects pricing up with online file-sharing, pointing out that he won’t even bother reading some of this stuff for free. I generally share this opinion, but I will put in a quibble: torrenting isn’t free. It takes your time instead of your money, as you try to find the files and then wait for the downloads. Or, if you’re one of those people who have to read what you have available to you, you’re wasting your time keeping up on superhero universes for their own sakes.
Sean Kleefeld ties the pieces together by pointing out that we’re no longer paying for the entertainment or the experience but for having it in a tangible format. You pay only if you want a specific type of delivery — and more and more, you’re paying for having the old-fashioned paper format.
And that’s where Tom’s argument falls apart, I think. He recognizes the problem in the current, antiquated system, but doesn’t bring in the new/current business models that are replacing the status quo to see that we’re actually getting more creativity, more diversity, and at a lower sampling cost.
Is content doomed to be free?