Deluxe hard covers, The price of books, and Independent stores

Over the past two weeks it’s safe to say I have heavily added to my comic shelves. Specifically in the Deluxe hardback department. When it comes to DC and Marvel, though honestly more DC, there are some titles I end up buying multiple times over. For example, take my beloved Superman series. I buy the single issues which I then lend out to a friend. I bought the first two trade paper backs covering the first 13 issues, and the Rebirth one shot. And after that I really wanted the deluxe volume. So, if I was to add everything up at full price that would be $2.99 x 13, which is $38.87 (granted, over a long period of time). I’m doing this in dollar’s despite being English because of the listed prices on the actual item and I’ll do a conversion at the end. Just getting that info out of the way now. The two trade paper backs are $16.99 each. So, $33.98. and the deluxe volume is $34.99. In total that’s $107.84 for the same content 3 times over. And I know someone will say I made a mistake there because it should be $2.99 times 14 with the Rebirth one shot, but I never bought that one so discounted it here. Converting Dollars to Sterling that means I should have payed a total of £79.52. What I actually spent was £81.53 because issues cost an average of £2.50 depending on which store I visit, the trades cost £14.99 in normal book stores like Waterstones (which is not the best option for buying comics, supporting smaller stores has major benefits for both you and the owners) and I got the deluxe volume from Amazon for £19.05.

Yeah, if you can’t tell I’ve been seriously rethinking how I buy comics. Particularly from DC. None of this is a slight towards DC’s pricing I think it’s very reasonable. It’s more talking about the quality of their product to the point that I own the same content 3 times! To be honest its not the only DC content I own 3 times, and I tend to justify it by the fact that they are in different formats. The fact that I have 3 versions of both Kingdom Come and Superman Secret Identity doesn’t bother me. For the record that’s trade paperback, Deluxe edition, and French hardcover.

I love DCs current Superman title so I don’t mind owning it three times. What I do mind is realising how much it all cost me and how that money could have been used to check out other titles and support them. The problem I see is that the idea of spending £2.50 every other week seems fairly reasonable, until you consider the long-term price. But in the past I’ve actively avoided buying what I considered to be over-priced deluxe editions because I can’t afford it. Here in England, the recommended retail price for DC’s current line of deluxe rebirth books is £30 (though when you convert Dollars to Sterling, it should be only around £25.80, but I’ll give them the £4.20 for import charge). Buying these from regular books stores, like Waterstones or WHSmith, that is exactly what you would pay. Amazon lists them between £15 (The Flash) and £30 (Action Comics) with the majority around £20. A recent trip to Limited Edition in Stevenage (a rather charming and friendly comic store in the cities centre) netted me that £30 Action Comics Deluxe for only £20. A damn good deal in my books.

Over the winter break, I took advantage of a little extra money and caved in to my desire to own some of these beautiful deluxe editions. Happily picking up the Rebirth deluxe books for Superman, Action Comics, Batman, Detective Comics, Wonder Woman, and The Flash. As well as the recent deluxe release of Shazam: The New Beginning and a paperback copy of New Frontier. That trip to Limited Edition also got me the first ultimate collection for Image’s Invincible series by Robert Kirkman for £10. Something I am heavily looking forward to trying as Kirkman’s more famous series, The Walking Dead, has never managed to peak my interest. Either in comics or the television series.

Even discounting the fact that most of these books were brought with gift cards, the experience has forced me to evaluate my approach to buying comics and spend money more wisely. However, when taking this all into account I’m forced to think about the actual companies that produce the books I read. As I said earlier the money spend on multiple versions of the same thing could have been used to support other series. For DC’s more popular series, like Batman and Superman, this is less of a problem. They are flag ship titles that are guaranteed to continue publication and get deluxe volumes. However, especially at Marvel and smaller publishers. Good titles get cancelled frequently due to a lack of support. For example, I thoroughly enjoyed the Silk series from Marvel written by Robbie Thompson. Despite being a good series, the book was cancelled a year ago due to a lack of people buying the single issues. Ending on issue 19 of the second run. Granted, Marvel has become infamous for cancelling books early. YouTuber Professor Thorgi mentions how Chip Zdarsky’s Star Lord series was cancelled at only 6 issues in his video What’s Causing Marvel’s Low Sales – HINT: It’s Not Diversity – ediTHORGIals. Leading many readers to believe it was meant to be a miniseries (typically around 4 to 6 issues long), before it was confirmed that the book was cancelled due to low sales. He goes into plenty of detail in his video discussing the facts that the character is popular, the writer is well known and liked, but the book still sold poorly due to a mixture of Marvel’s pricing, constant relaunches, poor marketing and the amount of books Marvel release week to week. This is worse for independent publishers as they have no guarantee for collective trades even if their work sells relatively well.

With these recent purchases, I can say that the deluxe rebirth books DC have released are completely worth the money and the time to wait for them. Collecting at least the first 13 issues, 15 in the case of Batman. They look wonderful on the shelf with clean white spines, and bright defined covers using art from one of the single issues included inside. The paper stock is clear and of high quality with a sown binding to allow the pages to flex easily and creates less gutter space cut off when reading. The crowning beauty of these books is the added detail under the dust jacket. Gorgeous two-page spreads printed directly onto the books cover in place of the standard black. For bigger titles from DC it’s more than worth waiting it out and picking these up instead of the standard trade paperbacks.

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