why i don’t buy trade paperbacks…

Marvel trades, anyway.

today Marvel released a new TPB, Excalibur Classic Vol. 3: Cross-Time Caper Book 1. since Excalibur has long been one of my favourite comics, it would not be surprising if i was happy about this re-release of several classic issues (numbers 12-20) in trade format. but i’m not.

why? because this book suffers from the curse of many, even most, trades Marvel prints. overpricing.

this TPB lists for $24.99, and can be snagged for $16.49 right now from Amazon. seems somewhat reasonable, until one considers that the combined original cover price of those nine issues was $13.50! adding insult to injury, the new trade doesn’t contain the entire “Cross-Time Caper” story, which ran through issue #24. the total original cost for the entire story? $19.75 – which is what i paid when i bought the backissues this past week. near-mint, too.

so, assuming the costs of producing the stories were covered during the original publication run (which shouldn’t be a stretch, considering the series ran for another eight years and 100 issues), why the price hike? many of Marvel’s trades (even those collecting recent books) seem to have a large divergence in price (though not as great, percentage-wise, for those newer titles) from original covers for no apparent added value. for example, the first volume of the New Avengers comic in trade form runs $14.99 in softcover ($19.99 in hardback, a better value given the durability increase) versus a $13.50 cover price. sure, there aren’t any ads – but again, it would seem that costs should be amortized over the initial production run rather than passed off to later production. if costs are covered by original production, then the price increases for later production seems to be a penalty for those who weren’t smart enough or lucky enough to buy during the original run.

DC seems to be much more reasonable with their trade pricing, but i’d like to see more things like Top Cow’s Witchblade Compendium Edition, a sort of super-trade. priced at $59.99 ($37.79 at Amazon), this book contains the first fifty issues of the Witchblade comic for almost seventy dollars less than the original total cover price (ninety, if you buy from Amazon). it seems like more publishers could manage pricing closer to this, particularly the big two.

quote of the day:

“I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something.” – Jackie Mason


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