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Old 06-01-2009, 05:59 PM   #1
Darthphere
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Arrow The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

Marvel’s John Turitzin On Price Increases - “We’re Just Looking To Maximise Our Profits For Business”

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Submitted by Rich Johnston on June 1, 2009 – 4:04 am (60) comments

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Last Thursday, Marvel’s General Counsel and Executive Vice President to the Executive Office, John Turitzin told a financial audience that the price increase on a number of Marvel titles from $2.99 to $3.99 is part of an ongoing process of testing just how much money they can make from publishing comics. And they believe enough Marvel fans will pay they increased prices. But if they don’t, those prices will come down.

This is a different message to those made by Marvel editorial staff that blames move for moving some titles from $2.99 to $3.99 as purely down due to increased operating costs.

At the time, I tried to show how the prices of comics have spiralled above the level inflation in recent years, and pointed out the attractiveness of the inelasticity of comics - not so much the paper stock, that tends to rip – but the fact that sales do not go down at the same rate that prices rise. A 50% price increase may only lose 25% of customers, leading to a higher net profit.

John Turitzin, one of the three main bosses at Marvel spoke at the Cowen & Company Technology Media & Telecom Conference, talking about the performance of the company and telling people that “our company is a cash machine”.

In a question and answer session at the end, fund manager Jason Wood noted that despite price increases on a number of titles, they expect publishing revenue to remain the same and asked how much Marvel views demand for their comics as inelastic - that they will sell fewer issues (with the reduced costs that brings) but will bring in the same amount of money.

Turitzin stated “We’re always testing our pricing on our comic books to see the extent of which we can, you know, it is inelastic, and we can increase our profit in that business.

“We sell comics at different price points, we sell more popular comics at higher price points, we sell other ones at lower price points, we differentiate in pricing in that way, some of our comics aimed at kids, Marvel Adventures line is a lower priced line. We’re just looking to maximise our profits for business.without alienating our own fanbase without making them feel that they’re gouged which I hope you don’t feel.”

Turitzin did state however that if sales did drop off below acceptable levels, they would have to reconsider the price increases. “Our goal is to maximise our revenue, and if we’re not maximising our revenue then our pricing is wrong and we have to take a look at that. So you can hope that we see that attrition and our prices come down.”

However with Marvel’s top selling books surviving the $3.99 price point nicely, that doesn’t seem to be an issue right now.

Turitzi also passed on news that Marvel plan a second Marvel Studios film in 2012 as well as the planned AVENGERS movie, and have a goal to make two movies a year.
Well there goes the explanation of increased operating costs.

I hope all of you read this, and think twice about supporting these $3.99 books. Send Marvel a message with your hard earned dollar that these type of greedy business practices are unacceptable and will not be allowed.

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Old 06-01-2009, 06:52 PM   #2
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Default Re: The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

I'm already being cautious with $4 priced comics but this makes me even more cautious. I no longer buy minis or oneshots unless they have something to do with an ongoing that I'm already reading but that's starting to waver as well and this may make me drop more of those.

The only $4 ongoings I still buy are Dark Avengers and New Avengers. I've been debating on dropping New Avengers and this may help in that

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Old 06-01-2009, 07:33 PM   #3
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Default Re: The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

There are no such things as greedy business practices. This is how capitalism is supposed to work: Marvel can charge what the market will bear. Period. They are supposed to make money.

Do you really think that an Apple computer costs more to make than any number of generic PCs? Of course not. But Apple has a loyal base that is convinced that the computers are superior and are willing to pay the price. Should Apple lower prices in order to be fair? No way.

Same with "Energy" Drinks. Same with Subaru. Same with Trek (the bike and the pointed ears). Same with the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.

Marvel is a business that I want to survive, which means be profitable. If they've made a bad calculation, then they'll find out.

But they aren't doing anything that every other single industry does.

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Old 06-01-2009, 07:34 PM   #4
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Default Re: The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

LOL! Dude, seriously. I know you're not defending Marvel straight up lying to you and the fanbase right?

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Old 06-01-2009, 07:35 PM   #5
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Default Re: The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

Thanks for posting the article, btw,Darth. l enjoy reading about the business side of things.

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Old 06-01-2009, 07:37 PM   #6
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Default Re: The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

No, the one response that I read in that article was obnoxious with a capital O. But I certainly don't fool myself that that coversation doesn't happen in regards to every single product that I buy.

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Old 06-01-2009, 07:39 PM   #7
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Default Re: The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

I was already staying away from $3.99 price titles. The only minis and one-shots are ones I really want, like the upcoming Beta Ray Bill one, but otherwise I've pretty much stayed away from them.

I'm not following ongoing with that tag, but I'll be following Incredible Hulk and it'll be $3.99, but it has extra content (small extra content, but it's still extra), so I won't sweat that one

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Old 06-01-2009, 07:40 PM   #8
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Default Re: The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

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Originally Posted by iloveclones View Post
Thanks for posting the article, btw,Darth. l enjoy reading about the business side of things.
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No, the one response that I read in that article was obnoxious with a capital O. But I certainly don't fool myself that that coversation doesn't happen in regards to every single product that I buy.
No problem, whatever happened to your business thread?

I mean, I'm not naive enough to not know what happens behind the scenes but to outright admit something like that is shocking. Especially since it contradicts everything Marvel has released on the matter.

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Old 06-01-2009, 07:47 PM   #9
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Default Re: The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

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No problem, whatever happened to your business thread?

I mean, I'm not naive enough to not know what happens behind the scenes but to outright admit something like that is shocking. Especially since it contradicts everything Marvel has released on the matter.
Yeah, I was thinking of copying this into that, but what's the sense of two conversations about the same subject.

The guy probably thought he was being funny/clever. Like the second coming of Gordon Gekko or something.

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Old 06-01-2009, 07:49 PM   #10
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Default Re: The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

"We're a ****ing cash machine man, ****ing comics are a money maker *****es, make it rain!!!"

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Old 06-01-2009, 07:55 PM   #11
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Default Re: The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

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Originally Posted by iloveclones View Post
Like the second coming of Gordon Gekko or something.

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Originally Posted by iloveclones, earlier in the conversation
There are no such things as greedy business practices.
The irony is not lost on me.....

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Old 06-01-2009, 07:56 PM   #12
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Exclamation Re: The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

CBR had an article about this.

http://robot6.comicbookresources.com...ice-increases/

The message board reactions below were not encouraging.

It also is worth mentioning that Marvel has been doing quite a few cynical things to punish readers who "trade wait", usually by releasing "mini HC's" to justify selling 4-6 issues at $20, or padding out a trade that would feature a 4 issue storyline with 2 issues of reprint material, such as with some NOVA or CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI-13 trades to further justify a higher price. In some ways this may seen functional in the short term but bad in the long term. Some in the industry, like Dan DiDio at a Bristol Convention some weeks ago, claim that "trade waiting is for people who don't want to read comics." That is exactly backward; people who wait for the trade are doing so BECAUSE they SO want to read a comic story, that that they want the entire story, in one package, without ads, and in the least space possible, that CANNOT be resold (single issues, not trades, can increase in value via CGC) for any more than you bought it for. I remember cursing rather audibly that in catching up on INCREDIBLE HERCULES, I had to pay an extra $5 for the SECRET INVASION arc for nothing more than a mini-HC when a trade would have been fine at, say, $15-$16.

The reality, though, is that Marvel has been restructured as Joe Quesada and company wanted after their 90's bankruptcy. Back then they almost exclusively relied on their print arm for profits (and to a degree, trading cards). Nowadays, the massive bulk of Marvel's profits, something that has to be around 70% on a modest figure, are from licensing. Merchandise, movies, TV shows, etc. Their print arm is merely there for creative ore for the media branches, and as side profits. It has to maintain a profit unto itself, as everything in business does, but it also explains why some of the print strategies have gotten a bit more cynical since, oh, 2004.

While I am sure rising costs and such are a reality (inflation rates have been, oh, about 89-100% since the 80's), obviously telling customers one thing and stock-holders another so blatantly breeds ill will.

Personally, while if I am happily enjoying a book for years and it jumps in price by a dollar for no reason, while I will complain, I will likely still get it. What $4 books have done, though, is make me less inclined to impulse buy or try something out. Jason Aaron and Ron Garney on a WOLVERINE title is interesting, but for $4 an issue, no way. I left NEW AVENGERS before it and other Bendis books became $4 books, as at even $3 an issue, buying stuff I hated wore thin on the wallet. I think more about on-shot's and mini's now. What I think the prices are having on the market is that the books that always sell well will continue to do so, but stores, who have budgets, will cut back on the smaller books to save costs. In example, NEW AVENGERS will sell over 90k an issue regardless of the price, but, say, NOVA, a book that had sold no lower than 28k copies an issue for an entire calender year, suddenly drops to 25-26k almost immediately after the prices start hitting. While it has held at that number for 3-4 months, I see no other reason for a quick 10% dip other than shops trying to make up for expenses on bigger books by trimming the smaller ones "here and there". A book that sold at 35k in 2007 would maybe be in the Top 60; now those are Top 45 sellers.

I'm all for voting with dollars. As I said, I'm not about to dump THOR because of of the extra book, but I'm hardly going to try, say, WOLVERINE: WEAPON X or SECRET WARRIORS. While the Joe Q EIC tenure has been commercially very successful, I don't think even Jim Shooter had such cynical contempt for his audience.

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Old 06-01-2009, 07:57 PM   #13
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Default Re: The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

Yeah, that's just the nature of doing business.

"Get as much as you can, as fast as you can, while you can." sad as it may be, that's how it works. Just like every other business.

I don't see the shock and outrage.

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Old 06-01-2009, 10:02 PM   #14
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Default Re: The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

Meh,whatever.I'm only down to reading 4 monthly comics these days (2 being Marvel) so I'm not too concerned.

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Old 06-02-2009, 12:19 AM   #15
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Default Re: The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

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Yeah, that's just the nature of doing business.

"Get as much as you can, as fast as you can, while you can." sad as it may be, that's how it works. Just like every other business.

I don't see the shock and outrage.
Aloha,
This is a great conversation if for no other reason than to strike a balance in the minds of comic book readers. There is the fantasy world of the Marvel Universe where continuity and good story telling and art are essential and then there's the publicly traded company MVL.That company is divided into three parts-publishing(comics,HC,trades,etc), Licensing(selling the rights to use the image or character on everything imaginable) and Marvel Studios (producer of cartoons and movies based upon Marvel characters).In the eyes of some fanboys-JoeQ runs Marvel.He does not. The powers that be who run Marvel go WAAY above JoeQ.Turitzin is one of those guys.He's talking to the business world about how Marvel gets paid on both ends. They sell the rights to characters to other movie studios and get paid, they produce their own movies they get paid-even more.When I tell people I own almost the entire Amazing Spider-Man collection, they kind of look at me. When I tell them that I also own stock in Marvel-then they get it.Many magazines are going up in price. The way to go with Marvel is through their subscription service(cheapest price possible and free postage),Amazon.com or ebay. One of the greatest pleasures in being a collector is getting a valuable book for the cheapest price possible.Seek and ye shall find!
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Old 06-02-2009, 12:49 AM   #16
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Default Re: The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

Honestly, with the amount of weekly "specials" that are out between the two companies, I pick up ~2 3.99 issues a week.

And that was before Marvel decided to hike up prices of a few titles. Which, I don't really care either way. The titles that they're hiking I don't read / bootleg "key" issues anyway, so meh.

However, if they decide to lower the price of some of their lower selling books to "balance" this, I could go with it.

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Old 06-02-2009, 06:47 AM   #17
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Default Re: The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

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Originally Posted by Spider-Jay420 View Post
Yeah, that's just the nature of doing business.

"Get as much as you can, as fast as you can, while you can." sad as it may be, that's how it works. Just like every other business.

I don't see the shock and outrage.
Agreed.

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Old 06-02-2009, 06:52 AM   #18
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Default Re: The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

Hm. I was already thinking about dropping Thor because of the price increase. Now I may have to think about dropping Uncanny X-Men by the end of the summer.

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Old 06-02-2009, 07:33 AM   #19
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Default Re: The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

while this is typical business practice who knowadays have $4 to throw at one comicbook

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Old 06-02-2009, 07:48 AM   #20
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Default Re: The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

I really Am not going to buy any 3.99 ongoings and I'll probally trade wait for minis and then buy them off Amazon.I bought Deadpool:Sucide Kings #1 and 2because those were very light weeks.What sucks too is Marvel canceled two of my favorite titles{Iron Fist and Ghost Rider} and Instead of letting them finish up the stories in the regular series they turn what would just be an arc in the ongoing into a 3.99 mini.I'll probally buy them just to finish out the stories I'm enjoying but I still see it as a dick move on marvel's part.

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Old 06-02-2009, 08:43 AM   #21
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Default Re: The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

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There are no such things as greedy business practices. This is how capitalism is supposed to work: Marvel can charge what the market will bear. Period. They are supposed to make money.
There might not be "greedy" business practices, but certainly there are ethical ones, and charging higher prices simply because the market can handle it is not always the proper way to do things.

Also they could end up pricing themselves out of a large portion of there young audience.

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Old 06-02-2009, 09:24 AM   #22
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Default Re: The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

I agree. Trying to get our last dollar while the economy is struggling is an ethical bad decision

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Old 06-02-2009, 09:32 AM   #23
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Default Re: The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

I would agree that it might might be a bad decision. We'll find out. But unethical? No way. It's not Marvel's job to hold people's hand through a recession/depression/nuclear holocaust. Look to your preacher for that. Marvel's job is to make money. Period.

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Old 06-02-2009, 10:44 AM   #24
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Default Re: The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

This part confused me:
Quote:
We’re just looking to maximise our profits for business.without alienating our own fanbase without making them feel that they’re gouged which I hope you don’t feel.
How are we supposed to feel when they effectively cop to price gouging? Light price gouging, maybe, since they're not charging an arm and a leg or anything, but it's still gouging.

In the end, though, it doesn't really matter to me. $4 isn't much worse than $3 to me, and I naturally tend to go for less popular comics anyway, so the majority of my weekly pulls are still $2.99.

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Old 06-02-2009, 10:58 AM   #25
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Default Re: The Real Truth Behind the Marvel Price Hikes

Yeah, you know, whenever I get my money right I think i'm effectively done with comics.

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