The Marvel Trade Paperback Dilemma
Not too long ago, I was reading a lot of Marvel titles. As far as I was concerned they were killing it when they launched Marvel Now. Currently, I’m only reading Bendis’ two X-Men titles and the rest is exclusively put out by Image. One of the major things that bugs me about Marvel’s business practices is their trade paperback releases.
I really dislike the small trades that have become the standard today. You know the ones that sometimes have 4 or 5 issues in them. I prefer long collected trades that cover an author’s entire work on a series, but I realize this isn’t always an option especially if the run is still ongoing. I buy those smaller trades from Image comics because I know there is a chance that that will be the only way those stories will be collected. With notable exception of monster hits like Saga which are bound for big lavish trades with lots of available material in it. Image at least puts their trades out in paperback first and charges $9.99 for the inaugural volume. Generally, Marvel will collect the most recent issues of a series and release a hardcover trade for $25 playing on the fact that some fans will of course buy anything and others only read in trades so they are eager to catch up on the story. 7 or 8 months later they will release the paperback version of the same trade for $20.
Releasing $25 hardcovers for 4 issues is ludicrous. In my eyes I would only ever buy a hardcover of any trade if it was something classic that I was in love with as a lavish alternative. Say a Watchmen or Marvels. I always thought the softcover trades were supposed to be a value to get more bang for your buck rather than buying the issues outright. So even if you are buying the softcover trade for $20 and it has 5 issues at the general Marvel $3.99 price point you are paying the exact same amount. It’s good for them business wise I guess, but I think it’s pulling on the heartstrings of their fans. Not to mention, way down the line these will all likely be put into a bigger trade which contains multiple smaller ones with no rhyme reason for their schedule. Take Ultimate Spider-Man for example. I’ve been trying to read through the series from the start and I prefer the Ultimate Collections which takes two of the regular 5,6, 7 issue trades and puts them together. Vol. 1 came out in March 2007, Vol. 2 May 2009, Vol. 3 September 2010 and Vol. 4 in August 2013. If you can make any rhyme or reason out of that, let me know.
While Marvel is busy taking your money for new trades their business practice for releasing them for corresponding new movies is abysmal. Let’s use Guardians Of The Galaxy as an example. I understand them wanting to push the Bendis penned series being that it’s the most current, but if you’re not purchasing the issues there is only a slim two trades available (3 if you count the unnecessary X-Men/Guardians crossover). In May, at our local comic store my friend who never read any Guardians but whose interests was piqued due to the movie inquired about what he could read about the formation of the team. He was directed to the works of Abnett & Lanning from 2008. We were told Marvel was reprinting their full run on the book starting in the beginning of August or August 12th if you’re purchasing from online retailers. In a way I understand it being published to coincide with the movie release, but wouldn’t you want it out a month or two ahead of it? I mean, the book isn’t going anywhere. Due to the massive success of the movie, before the book was officially released on Amazon it was already their #1 bestseller with presales so large the book now (at the time of this writing) isn’t available for 1-2 months until it gets restocked. This all could have been easily avoided Marvel if you just released it slightly ahead of the movie.
It’s not just that, some of the more modern Marvel Cosmic stories are out of print. You would think stories from a few years ago that heavily feature characters like Ronan The Accuser and Nebula would be high priority for Marvel to be pushing right now. Instead, good luck finding a used copy of the first volume of the Annihilation event trade (the one that kicks off it all) for under $75.
It seems like it’s either feast or famine with these Marvel trades. They are either gouging your wallets for something not worth it or not staying on top of other properties that realistically could make them buckets of money. All I’m asking is for them to get their shit together and treat the consumer with a little more respect.
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