I've had it with DC Comics hardcovers!
Yes, that's right. Nothing so drastic, of course, as giving up my trade reading or reviewing (heaven forbid!), but I did make some buying decisions this month that made me realize how DC's new glut of hardcovers is beginning to affect my comics-buying budget.
Consider that, for this buying month, DC is producing in hardcover no less than:
Batman: The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul - $14.99 (hardcover)
Booster Gold: 52 Pickup - $12.49 (hardcover)
Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes: The Quest for Cosmic Boy - $8.99 (paperback)
Superman: Escape from Bizarro World - $14.99 (hardcover)
Mystery in Space Volume 2 - $10.79 (paperback)
The Starman Omnibus Volume 1 - $24.99 (hardcover)
Captain Carrot and the Final Ark - $9.99 (paperback)
Jack Kirby's OMAC - $12.49 (hardcover)
JLA Presents: Aztek, the Ultimate Man - $9.99 (paperback)
The Question: Poisoned Ground - $11.99 (paperback)
That's not including various Showcase editions and such. Even reflecting the lowest prices online (I think), that's still $141.69 to buy that month's selection of DC trades. And of those, three of the most prominent are hardcovers.
Personally, I try to spend no more than $60 a month on trade paperbacks (what's your trade paperback budget?). To buy the three hardcovers alone, with shipping, is almost $50; that makes it only possible to buy three or four books this month, when before the rise of hardcovers I might have been able to buy five or six. And don't even get me started on the cost per issue equation!
So for me, whereas I might otherwise have checked out The Question or supported the new JLA Presents series, I've had to stick them all on a wish list for birthdays or holidays. I'm doing it more and more each month; the effect of the rise in DC Comics hardcovers is that I'm getting choosier about what I buy, and I'm buying less--even if I'm spending about the same.
Hard to say if that's good or bad for DC. I imagine that hardcovers come with more bookstore prestige and shelf-life, so it's in DC's interest to produce hardcovers. As long as DC makes the same off me each month, I imagine the quantity I buy hardly matters. We talk here some times about the trade paperback boom; if the increase in DC hardcovers made customers buy less, so DC produced less trades, but targeted the trades they did release so that only lasting storylines got collected, that might be OK, too. The likely losers, unfortunately, are the local comics shops, who could see profits go down as customers purchase fewer books because of the increased price of the hottest sellers.
This, of course, posits my own buying habits as true for the whole, which probably isn't the case. But let me say that I think we've entered the third era of trade paperbacks now--the first era was when trades were scarce and you never knew what was going to be collected, pre-, say, 2004; the second era was the rise in trades, where for about two years DC collected everything pretty regularly and affordably, 2004 to mid-2006; and now, the third era, where trades are hot, hot, hot, and subsequently getting expensive.
I'll leave it there, without going into what to do or what happens next, and instead ask, what do you think? Is this similar to your experience? What's to be done, if anything? Leave your comments, and we'll talk about this more as the year unfolds.