Marvel to Comics Retailers: Why Should You Make a Profit?

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Marvel Crushing Retailer

If you've been collecting comics for more than a few weeks, you're already aware of the fashion of multiple covers for the same comic. These variants may come in a number of varieties, but a popular version is the eye-catching foil variant cover. 

In the May solicitation, comics retailers were sent some very unwelcome news regarding the foil variants for Incredible Hulk #181 Facsimile Editioin, Moon Knight: City of the Dead #1, and Star Wars: Dark Droids #1.

The solicitation for these July 2023 shipments stated, "Please be aware that Marvel's new Foil Variant Cover Program will bear different shorter discounts than normal, due to the significantly higher manufacturing costs for foil covers."

Bluntly, the discount being offered is zero. Nada. Which means the $3.99 and $4.99 SRP you see stamped on each cover of Incredible Hulk and Moon Knight, respectively, is exactly what the retailers are paying for the books, with the expectation that they will sell them for Marvel for absolutely no profit at all. (Marvel very generously offers a discount of 16% off the $5.99 Dark Droids book, allowing retailers to buy it for $5.03 and make a tidy 96 cent profit.)


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Traditionally, the discounted rate offered to retailers is between 40% and 55% off the suggested retail price -- a structure similar to all other booksellers. If the retailer sells the books at their suggested retail price, they don't just make no money -- it actually costs them money, because they also had to pay the shipping charges to get the books into the store. In a time where comics aren't exactly burning up their sales charts, throwing an insult like this to retailers is an extremely antagonistic move on the part of the publishing industry. Perhaps if the costs to produce a book with bells and whistles is too much to bear, it might be time to think about dropping the bells and whistles -- and focusing on telling a good story.