Opinion: Comics Market Glut?
Last week Newsarama reported that DC has stated that they are rethinking their approach to collected editions as part of an overall strategy to reduce “oversaturation of product”. Sounds pretty sensible to me though, of course, some of the comments on that article were quite negative.
Obviously, I am biased. Lucky Target Comics is all about combining the collectible back issue market with new releases and multiple formats. We love comics! We also want to survive and thrive like any other business. I have to bite my tongue a little when someone tells me that they only buy tpbs and they need a bricks and mortar shelf to browse, or that they mostly read digital copies now. My heart sinks a little when I see that big biz booksellers are selling collected editions for cheaper than independent comic retailers can buy them for wholesale.
But, it is complicated and there are understandable reasons why the collected edition market has become so big. Consumers find the format easier. Some titles do better in collected edition sales than they do in singles, particularly in the US books for education market, which means vital income for creators.
A bit of sensible management of this part of the industry output cannot be a bad thing.
Personally, of the ‘big two’, Marvel have always worried me more where throwing excess product out there has been concerned. On balance Marvel collected editions are noticeably more expensive than that of DC, or Image etc but a much greater proportion end up in liquidated stock and flooding the market a few years after release. Something similar happens with their variants - retailers are pushed to order in high numbers to get them with limited chance of a profit and then both the variants and the excess regular covers are everywhere selling for pennies.
It would be nice to see all publishers thinking carefully, not only about the type and volume of product they release, but also about where exactly that product is likely to end up.