A survey of local Madison Wisconsin newsstand outlets found a number of Marvel Comics carrying a $2.99 cover price in spite of the fact that the same comics were selling for $2.25 at direct market comic book outlets. ICv2 contacted Marvel a week ago concerning the price differential, but have not yet received a definitive reply.
Factoring in the returns from the newsstand, Marvel is still probably reaping more profit from sales of the direct market comics at $2.25 than it is from sales of the newsstand version of the same books at $2.99. Since the rise in newsstand prices has not been accompanied by across the board increases in direct market comics, it would appear that Marvel may just be trying to make its newsstand operations more profitable.
Figuring out whether Marvel's newsstand sales are profitable or not is a complicated process, which involves factoring in the lower costs of printing extra copies of any title for the newsstand as well as the rates of return, which vary by individual title and issue. Still it is probably safe to say that a two-tier pricing structure makes sense when balancing the efficiency of the non-returnable direct market sales against returnable sales through newsstands -- if anything, seventy-five cents is probably not enough to make up for the efficiency difference between the channels.