Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Me and Tom and Kramers Ergot #7 -- Is $125.00 too much for a hardcover artcomix hardcover? I've asked myself that question a lot since the price point of KE #7 was announced. Even with a huge lineup of great talent, more than $1.25 a page seems like a lot to pay, especially in the current economy.
In a brief back and forth on the subject with Tom Spurgeon, Tom seems to feel that the awesomeness of the book will overcome any reluctance readers will have to spend a week's grocery money on a big, if likely extremely well-done, funnybook. I have no axe to grind in this question, and I'm still weighing whether to order it, even with a 20 percent discount from my retailer. What do you think?
Update: Christopher Allen has added some thoughtful points in the comments section of this post, as has cartoonist and sometimes-self-publisher Jason Marcy. Have a look, and weigh in if you have an opinion. I'm anxious to see what everyone's opinion on this is. And please note that I really am not trying to rile anyone up or poke anyone in the eye, I really am personally conflicted about buying KE7, which shocks me since I've always accepted Tom Spurgeon's truism that "the only comics that cost too much are shitty comics." I don't think KE7 will be shitty comics, but I do think it may actually cost too much and as Chris notes in the comments, may have priced many interested readers right out of the market.
Update 2: I had forgotten about this May discussion on the price of Kramers Ergot #7 at The Beat. Tom Spurgeon, Heidi McDonald, Paul O'Brien and others weigh in.
One interesting (to me) note is the assumption at some points that Sammy Harkham and Alvin Buenaventura are being accused of greed. I hope no one thinks I am coming at it from that direction. I think they have every right to make it 96 pages for $125.00, or 12 pages for $1,000.00 if they want. I am just struggling, at the moment, with my own commitment to artcomix versus the extraordinary price point of this book. If, as Spurgeon says, it will be a "monster hit" at $125.00, would it still at $500.00? Where do the diminishing returns set in? If KE7 were priced at 50 or 60 bucks, I probably would have ordered it already and would have shut up by now, making everyone happy. I'm just interested in exploring my own reluctance to spend $125.00 on a comic book I am sure I would enjoy, perhaps because $125.00 is more than a week's groceries for my family, and I am not making the phat public radio money I was making circa 2001-2004, when I would have not even blinked at the price of KE7.
Maybe there are more highly monetized artcomix readers than I think, but after thinking about this for a couple of days and talking to some retailers and friends about it, I have come to the conclusion that most comics shops, even the most chi-chi of the chi-chi artcomix-enabling Beguiling-type shops, will order one copy of this for their shelves at best, and otherwise only order them for regular customers who commit to buying it and perhaps even lay down a substantial deposit. I can't for a moment imagine any one of the 90-percent or so of superhero convenience stores within the direct market looking at this volume with anything other than beady-eyed contempt, if indeed they think about it at all, or are even ever aware that it exists, somewhere in a world they have never visited and never will.
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