Before you dismiss this as a silly question, hear me out. I know the obvious answer to "do we want cheaper comics?" is a big yes. Comic books are a business. They cost money to make. Everyone involved deserves to be paid for the great work they do. With inflation, the price of everything goes up. I'm not going to do a comparison and talk about the percentage increase from 1983 to 2010 (I chose 1983 because that's when I started reading comics and I just love that cover of ASM above). Here's the reality: the price of movie tickets have gone up, the price of gas has gone up. We could sit here all day and complain about everything costing more. That's not my point.
You get what you pay for. If you want quality comics, it's going to cost something. Let's turn our focus to this past weekend. Amazon.com had a surprise sale on trade paperbacks and hardcovers. It was such a surprise sale it appears that Amazon didn't even know about it. Several hardcovers had their prices drastically cut. This caused a bit of an uproar as comic fans started ordering books like crazy. Even I found myself ordering a couple hardcovers for the low price of $8.24. That story ends with it being a glitch, Amazon canceling their orders and offering apologies.
Artist Skottie Young made an excellent point via his Twitter account:
What does all this say? People would buy more comics if they were cheaper. You have to consider the cost of printing plus paying all the talent. What is the mark up? We're seeing some comics randomly priced at $3.99 while others are at $2.99. There's been speculation that the $3.99 price tag is a sort of experimentation to see how much we, as comic book fans, are willing to pay for our favorite stories. We can't and shouldn't get comics for nothing. I do not condone the illegal ways of reading comics. Could we ever see a blanket decrease in the price of comics? From my days I started reading/collecting back n 1984, I slowly saw the increase from $.60. I don't think I can say I ever saw a price go back down and stay there for a while. With most comics teetering closer to that $3.99 price tag, is the day of the $2.99 comics almost over?
While Amazon has temporarily stopped selling comics distributed by Diamond, to try to rectify the glitch they had, I wonder what the right price is? How much should a single comic cost? How much should a trade cost? How much should a hardcover collection cost? You have to be realistic and factor in the cost of production and talent. If prices were drastically cut and creators were paid less, that could affect the quality of the books. It's like the old saying, "you get what you pay for." I just wonder, are we paying too much?