Top Cow Productions has announced that it will maintain a $2.99 price point for its regular-sized comic books throughout 2009. Top Cow publisher Filip Sabik explained: “We looked around and saw cover prices creeping up and up all around us. It seems wrong to raise your prices on customers during these tough economic times.” Top Cow’s announcement comes as news appears that Marvel raising the price of some of its regular monthly comic book series including New Avengers, Hulk, Punisher (MAX) and the new ongoing series Dark Avengers #1 to $3.99, sparking discussions on comic boards and fan sites about comic book pricing.
The standard price for 32-page comic from Marvel and DC has been $2.99 for years, but there has been plenty of talk that comics are heading for the $3.99 price point in the near future. Actually, in a very real sense, the future is now. Marvel has been leading the move to higher prices by charging $3.99 for miniseries, special editions and first issues. An analysis done by Conor Kilpatrick and published on ifanboy.com showed that during the last two weeks of October 13 out of 24 and then 9 out of 19 Marvel releases were 32-page comics priced at $3.99.
Reportedly Marvel’s next move will be to raise the price of four regularly published series from $2.99 to $3.99 over the next three to four months. The current Marvel previews list Dark Avengers #1, New Avengers #49, Hulk #10 and Punsiher #67 at $3.99. But this does not necessarily mean that all Marvel comics will be making the leap anytime soon. Marvel EIC remarked recently in his “MyCup o’ Joe” column on MySpace: “We're doing everything we can to insure that the largest number of customers and retailers can continue to get a large majority of Marvel Comics at the standard $2.99 price.”
Price increases are not always a bad thing, they can provide a much-needed revenue boost to publishers, distributors and retailers, especially if circulation remains strong, but it is the size of the leap from $2.99 to $3.99 that gives fans and some industry analysts pause. Will customers be able to absorb such an increase? What will be the effect of the price rise on mid-range titles? Even if publishers restrict the increase to the most in-demand titles, will customers cut down on the number of titles they purchase?