Another day, another story about Marvel cutting costs. This time, it’s apparently upping the number of trade paperbacks that the publisher doesn’t have to pay creator royalties on. Rich Johnston explains:
In the section where they mention trade paperback royalties, the split between Marvel and the creators seems the same as the old agreement, but they’ve actually increased the percent of books that are exempt from royalties due to the ambiguous “returns, anticipated returns, promotional copies and damages.” It used to be 25%, now it’s 30%.
What sticks out to me about this is that Marvel doesn’t do promotional copies of its books. Marvel doesn’t do comp copies to reviewers or other media in the same way that DC or other publishers do – ie, actually having promotional copies available at all. So, unless (a) Marvel is about to start releasing comps – which really wouldn’t be a bad idea, especially with the upcoming OGN Season One line next year – or (b) Marvel is expecting the number of damages and returns to increase sometime soon for no immediately apparent reason, this really does look like it’s simply slashing creator royalties to save money, pure and simple. That’s going to hurt, but leaves me wondering two things:
- How big are collection royalties at Marvel in the first place?
- Will this change make lower-selling collections profitable, where they might have been making a loss under the 25% figure?
Of course, we may never find out…