Coming in November from Image Comics is the Chew: Taster’s Choice trade paperback. Ordinarily, a collected edition being rushed off the presses a little quicker than usual because of high sales numbers on the floppies wouldn’t be all that interesting–but in the case of Chew, arguably Image’s most successful new title launch since The Walking Dead, the solicitation also touts a “special introductory price.” The paperback, collecting five issues of the comic, is $9.99, which means that even after tax many direct-market customers will pay less than $10 for the book once their discounts are factored in.
Given that Boom! Studios’ most popular non-licensed title right now, Mark Waid’s Irredeemable, got a similar $9.99 treatment for a four-issue collection (along with the simultaneous release and 99-cent price point for the series’ fifth issue), one has to wonder if publishers besides Marvel and DC are seeing smaller price tags on the first trade as a good way to hook potential new readers. Given the serial nature of comics, it’s a well-known phenomenon that readers will stick with books for long periods of time, because of a relationship they develop the the characters or creators. For many books, the secret is just getting those fans to open up their first issue in the first place. Once they’ve done so, books that remain good for long periods of time–like Starman, Preacher or The Walking Dead–develop substantial cult followings and have potential for licensing and longevity that’s rarely matched in the creator-owned or non-Superman/Batman/X-Men market.
What do you think? Would a $10 price tag make books like The Life and Times of Savior 28, The Perhapanauts or Jennifer’s Body more attractive? Discounting your personal preferences (I think we’d all like to pay less for our books), do you think a lower price point will be an effective selling tool for some of the more obscure titles? And if it catches on, what “Big Two” titles would benefit from a discounted rate on the first trade just to convince people to try them? I’m thinking $9.99 volumes would be a great strategy for marketing the collected editions of DC’s new “second feature” titles.