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Author Topic: Inflation and US comics  (Read 365 times)

Tjm86

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Inflation and US comics
« on: 25 July, 2022, 02:01:50 PM »
I know I'm not the only one that dabbles in American imports and I doubt this is going to come as a major surprise but .

Diamond have finally succumbed to the combined pressures to put up import prices

The 7.5% increase is towards the upper end of inflation at this moment in time but with the dollar doing as badly as it is right now it could be worse.

Personally this is going to be the final nail in the coffin.  Down to the last couple of titles but my order is now a fraction of the size for the same price it was a decade ago.  I do wonder how much damage this is going to do to an already struggling sector.
« Last Edit: 25 July, 2022, 02:05:20 PM by Tjm86 »

Jim_Campbell

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Re: Inflation and US comics
« Reply #1 on: 25 July, 2022, 02:24:40 PM »
The 7.5% increase is towards the upper end of inflation at this moment in time but with the dollar doing as badly as it is right now it could be worse.

I'm afraid you've got that the wrong way round with the dollar — the sterling has been steadily sliding since 2016 and is currently schlepping around the $1.20 mark, which makes imports from the US more expensive. A $3.99 book at an exchange rate of, say, $1.48* would have worked out at £2.70. At the current $1.20 rate, the same book comes in at £3.32.


*Which is what it was the day before the EU referendum. Why, yes, I have picked that date completely at random. ;-)
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Tjm86

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Re: Inflation and US comics
« Reply #2 on: 25 July, 2022, 03:48:11 PM »
Sorry Jim, I worded that badly but that was exactly the point I was angling for.  You're right, it is sterling that is tanking against the dollar*.  Not to mention that it is having a major impact on the import price and therefore the price paid in our LCS'.

Given the short to medium term prospects with the economy this doesn't look like a situation that is going to improve any time soon (if ever). 

*the trajectory of sterling against the dollar has been fairly consistent for the best part of 20 odd years.  In fact you'd have to go back to 1985 to find a time when sterling was doing as badly as right now.  To be fair since 2016 it has wavered between 1.40 and 1.20 but that has to be compared against a range of 1.40 to 2.00 of the previous decade.  Of course it could well be purely a coincidence that the referendum coincided with this change, just as it is totally coincidental that Dover is currently gridlocked on the first day of the school holidays with new customs arrangements in place.

Jim_Campbell

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Re: Inflation and US comics
« Reply #3 on: 25 July, 2022, 04:06:28 PM »
Sorry Jim, I worded that badly but that was exactly the point I was angling for.

Right. Understood!

Quote
*the trajectory of sterling against the dollar has been fairly consistent for the best part of 20 odd years.  In fact you'd have to go back to 1985 to find a time when sterling was doing as badly as right now.

It dipped under $1.19 a couple of days back, and it's only been lower twice in the last fifty years — briefly in 2020 and, as you say, for about a week in 1985.

As someone who gets maybe two-thirds of their income in USD, this is actually fantastic news (the difference between $1.48 and $1.19 is effectively a 24% pay rise)… except that it's not, because of the reasons for it. I'd happily have lived with a $1.40+ exchange rate, and not left the EU. :-(
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Proudhuff

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Re: Inflation and US comics
« Reply #4 on: 27 July, 2022, 11:47:39 AM »
The few yank comics I currently get are oversized, either in content or size, so are a bit more pricey but yeah, the way things are I'll not be taking a punt on anything unknown or usual, which I have in the past.
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Lawman of the Present

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Re: Inflation and US comics
« Reply #5 on: 23 August, 2022, 07:03:07 PM »
I recall reading a while back that had comics risen along with inflation over the decades, a standard US floppy should be no more than a buck per issue.

New sales as you say are crashing terribly, though people are reading; the second hand market for older books is booming and most of the top 10 / top 100 books each month are manga. The (former) big two barely make appearances, and if DC does then it's a given it's a bat-book. But the new RRP prices are getting obnoxious, considering a trade is pretty much set at 6 issues of (mostly) average fare content. The only trades I rush to buy new on release date now are 2000 AD, as I find the prices reasonable and content on the whole much better quality.

I've been hunting eBay for years now for some older US TPBs, and lockdown saw prices skyrocket. Some books that would sell less than £10 now routinely go for £40+, others are far worse with the scalpers and speculator market that buy up as many copies as they can and try their luck at silly prices (here's looking at you, "small independent booksellers" who shall remain unnamed...). But mad as it is, people are paying it. I'm almost tempted to sell my collection and buy a new car.

The sales numbers are equally notable. Back in the heyday The Beano was selling 300,000+ copies per week just in Blighty. When I started reading DC in around 2010, a popular book like Batman or 'Tec would sell about 150-200k worldwide I think. The lesser sellers would ship maybe 40-50k copies.

Now, 30k per issue is considered a top seller, with some less popular books even being published at a loss and hoping to recoup the costs with a quick trade collection where most of the work is already done. To be honest that seems common now, to break even on the floppies and bank on TPBs and HCs to bring the profit. Probably why DC has taken to releasing absolutely everything in oversized, luxury and largely unecessary HCs in the last couple years.

It's also interesting how despite the massive success of the movies these days, it doesn't seem to translate into comics sales in the slightest (well, not new copies at least).

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Re: Inflation and US comics
« Reply #6 on: 24 August, 2022, 09:37:34 AM »
I recall reading a while back that had comics risen along with inflation over the decades, a standard US floppy should be no more than a buck per issue.

The average cover price in 1982 was $0.60, which would translate to $1.89 now. Unfortunately, what this fails to take account of is the massive shift to the direct market at the end of the 80s.

When Uncanny X-Men would routinely sell 500,000+ (they used to include the audited circulation figure in the legal blurb at the bottom of the title pages) it was almost entirely via the newsstand, which was full sale-or-return. This meant that the publisher would probably have to expect returns in the region of 50%, so they'd have to print 1.2M copies… hence the crappy paper.

The proposition of the direct market was that it was built on advance orders with limited (or no) option to return unsold copies. For the publishers, this seemed to make sense: only print what you know you can sell, you can do it on better paper and charge a higher cover price.

What no one seemed to register (or possibly they just didn't care) was that the flip side of this was that you were making more money, but from far fewer punters. You lose 1000 sales one month on a book shifting 500K, it's a blip. Do the same thing on a book selling 40K and it can be the difference between profitability and cancellation.

Add into that Marvel's disastrous attempt to exploit the 'speculator' market in the 90s, the collapse of which bankrupted the company and drove thousands of US retailers out of business, and you pretty much end up in the sorry mess we see now.

(Let's not delve too deeply into the compounding factor of Diamond being the defacto monopoly distributor, and their triple-whammy of ridiculous gate-keeping, general incompetence, and visceral hostility to new entrants to the market, which certainly hasn't helped.)
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sheridan

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Re: Inflation and US comics
« Reply #7 on: 24 August, 2022, 10:14:45 AM »
(Let's not delve too deeply into the compounding factor of Diamond being the defacto monopoly distributor, and their triple-whammy of ridiculous gate-keeping, general incompetence, and visceral hostility to new entrants to the market, which certainly hasn't helped.)

Where's that clip of a Friendly Local Comic Shop manager confronting the Diamond representative on stage...