- Posted by Johanna on October 7, 2012 at 3:27 pm
- Category: Graphic Novel News
IDW, the comic publisher that was the first to establish the $3.99 price point as standard for periodical comics, has come up with a new marketing method: extremely limited print run books sold directly to customers. They’re even launching a new division, IDW Limited, to handle these “ultra-high-end, collectible editions” with “original sketches, creator signatures, and special packaging”.
This is not a new idea — book printers have done similar releases, even before Kickstarter made such tiered rewards trendy — but in the past, comic publishers might have been more circumspect about such things for fear of annoying the retailers who can’t get in on the deal. IDW, in contrast, is sending out press releases. Which is necessary, since there’s no point in offering these products if your customers aren’t made aware of them.
Per a followup interview with IDW CEO Ted Adams, there will be 3-4 of these titles offered a month (that seems like a lot), as well as portfolios and collectible comic editions. Price points for the books are cited as $125, $250, and $350, and print runs may be as low as ten copies.
Hm, I wonder… what’s to stop a retailer from buying all ten of one of these editions and cornering the market for resale? I suppose IDW is going to limit purchases per customer; it’d be the smart thing to do. (Although playing with their shopping cart, it appears not.) And certainly, they’re going to benefit by getting all of that $125 (minus production and shipping costs), instead of the 50% of it they’d get by using a distributor, although they’re saying that these books will also be expensive to create.
In the bigger picture, this is just an extreme example of the direction the comic industry’s been going. First, they sold millions to a wide audience on the newsstand; then, in search of more guaranteed returns, they sold thousands to a more restricted but more dedicated type, the comic shop customer. Now, they’re selling hundreds at conventions; soon, it’s going to be tens online. Instead of variant covers driving the market, as is already happening, now it’s variant editions. It’s just another way to try and pull more money out of the same shrinking customer base, if you can convince them to pay $250 instead of $25 for a comic collection or $50 instead of $4 for a comic.
By the way, the first book, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles collection, has already sold out of its $250 and $350 levels.
Also, controlling the access to the customer is going to be ever more important. They’re only your customer if you can sell to them directly, without a retailer (Amazon) or a distributor (Diamond) being your only point of contact.