For the past several years the price of comics has been seen as one of the biggest hurdles for attracting new regular comics readers. With $3 to $4 becoming the norm, lapsed readers remember the “good old days” when comics were $1/75 cents/65 cents or even less, while many new readers are hesitant to invest (for lack of a better word) that amount of money for something that’s perceived as a quick read.
With paper costs increasing and print distribution dwindling, it’s no wonder that prices are going up. The only only way to lower those costs seems to be to eliminate those expenses, and many point to digital as the perfect avenue for that. Not only do you not have any printing or shipping costs but digital distribution has the opportunity to reach those that are unwilling or unable to set foot in a comic shop.
Digital or not, comics still have to face the increased scrutiny that customers have toward the cost of their purchases, especially those that are considered luxuries. While three or four dollars may not seem like a lot, the claim is often heard “Why should I pay that much for only a couple of minutes entertainment?” Is this true? Are comics such quick, disposable reads that they don’t warrant even a couple of dollars? How long does it take to read a comic nowadays anyway?
To test this out I brought out my old stopwatch (well, my cell phone) and timed myself as I read some of this past week’s comics. The four I timed myself on were Marvel’s Winter Soldier #2 and Daredevil #9, Image’s Glory #23 and DC’s Batman #6, all of which selling for $2.99. After getting all cozy in bed with them, I read through each and noted my time. Suffice it to say, I was surprised. Winter Soldier clocked in at 4 minutes, 21 seconds; Daredevil was 4 minutes, 40 seconds; Glory was 6 minutes, 25 seconds and Batman was only 3 minutes and 38 seconds.
Generally speaking, I’m a pretty fast reader. I will fully admit that when the discussion of price vs time to read a comic came up I found some people’s estimates of how long it took them to read one high. I’ll also say that as someone who tends to favor story more than art I don’t dwell too long on a splash page or action sequences and that may be a flaw of mine. That having been said, that’s still pretty fast for someone to burn through $12 worth of reading material. An interesting note is that all of the books had 20 story pages, with the exception of Glory which had 24 (but also no adds, like the other three). Batman, the low man on the totem pole, is a book filled with a climactic fight scene and lots of big panels and gorgeous Greg Capullo art work. Glory, upon leafing through it again, seems a touch denser than the other three.
Does the quickness of the read detract from my enjoyment of the books in question? No, not at all. I love Snyder and Capullo’s Batman and am happy to buy it, but there is a part of me that wonders “It’s a little less money to get it in the trade, what if I just waited until then and spread out the reading experience?” I don’t think I’d do that, but it’s a thought (and one I’m having with more frequency).
One of the arguments about digital has also been the price point, especially in light of the lessened printing and shipping costs. With that in mind, many people have said that same-price digital for the print copy isn’t something they’re willing to pay (and digital cheaper than print is a price structure prose fiction and the music industry have already adopted). If the only option for cheaper comics is digital, is going as cheap as possible necessary given how fast a read comics can be? How important is it make sure that perceived value matches what people are actually paying for it, especially when time to read a comic versus its cost is weighed against things like books, movies and TV shows? Are those even fair comparisons?
So riddle me this, PoP!ulation: Does the amount of time it takes you read a comic affect your enjoyment at all?
Filed Under: Riddle Me This