Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Survey: Have You Made Cuts in Your Spending?

Last night I freaking lost it. Waiting for a half hour to save $5 made something in me snap. I guess it felt like a ominous feel of what is to come before the economy improves. Maybe it is that I haven't gotten my relief check yet either. I don't know for sure, but it was probably a combination of a lot of little things.

At any rate, I went through my comic book spending habits from a year ago and compared it to today's spending habits. I have cut my spending by half in one year. No lie. Amazing, but true. I knew I was cutting back quite a bit, but what I saw tonight on my Microsoft Money told the tale. I spend a little less then half as much as I did before.

In looking down the road, my cuts are pretty much stabilized through July. I know that I will need to cut another 1/3 of that to make sure my ends meet. The sad thing about this is I quit buying anything independent or new for the most part. I can't take that kind of chance with my money right now- not knowing if I will like something or not. I have to go for the tried and true for the time being. Realizing where the deepest cuts have been made makes me sad. I really want to support up and coming creators, and I know I am failing miserably.

With all this in mind, let me pick your brain for a change.

1. How are your comic book spending habits different from a year ago? What about six months ago?

2. Where have you made your deepest cuts?

3. How do you think the economy will affect the comic book industry, if at all.

4. What about statues, action figures, and other specialty items? Have you cutback there or is that a factor?

5. General comments.

Take the time if you can, and let me know how you are feeling about your spending. If you want to get more detailed and talk about the state of your "union" feel free. If you want to generalize, feel free as well. I am really curious how the increasing prices of pretty much everything are affecting your life.

Thank you! I will see you back here tomorrow night, and will wrap things up this weekend.


Tegan said...

1) I'm buying less, and a friend who buys comics through me is buying many of the books I read.

2) Experimental/new/untested books.

3) Prices will go up across the board soon, as transportation costs hit every industry.

4) I only ever buy Aquaman stuff... but yeah, I've stopped buying them all.

5) I've finally started budgeting again, and I'm stunned by how much money we spend versus how little we make. We're going to have to cut back everywhere soon. Unfortunately, cable TV/Internet and comic books are our ONLY entertainment.

Greg Hatcher said...

1. How are your comic book spending habits different from a year ago?

Less eBay. I am growing more and more confident that back issues I am interested in will be collected in trade. So far that's been a good bet.

What about six months ago?

Cut the pull list again. Really if I could get all my books in trade paperback at this point, I would.

Part of it is price. 2.99 is just way too much for a single issue. Especially when it feels like content is shrinking. Part of the reason the Marvel Essentials are so appealing to me is the density of content as well as the price. "Decompression" is a manga technique -- it's based on getting either a book-sized chunk of comics all at once in a digest, or a 22-page slice appearing WEEKLY. Applying it to U.S. comics periodicals sold monthly is the worst of both worlds. Sadly, it appears to be a spreading trend.

2. Where have you made your deepest cuts?

New superhero stuff. I can't afford to keep up with 'universes' any more. I'll pop for single issues on new series I want to see succeed, like the Lone Ranger or Zorro or True Story Swear To God.

3. How do you think the economy will affect the comic book industry, if at all.

You know, I have no idea. Comics don't seem to respond to economics. The early 90's collector frenzy showed that the law of supply and demand doesn't seem to apply.... fans consistently choose to pay higher prices for less content in a more inconvenient format, and often buy the SAME COMICS OVER AGAIN REISSUED IN TRADE rather than put that cash towards a new title... it baffles me. No other area of the book or magazine industry is as loony as we are. We are idiots about money. Steve Gerber once remarked that you have to remember that the relationship of fans to superhero publishers is much like the relationship of an addict to his pusher. Right now it appears that DC and Marvel are betting the farm that it's more important that we KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON than that we save money.

I think that's a bad bet. But then I thought multiple covers and pre-bagged collector editions were crazy. Those made Todd MacFarlane a millionaire and launched Image Comics. So what the hell do I know?

4. What about statues, action figures, and other specialty items? Have you cut back there or is that a factor?

I've never paid for one. Everything we have here in the house is a gift. My bride does like wind-up toys but Julie never has spent more than $5 on one. Considering what I spend on reading I can't begrudge her.

5. General comments.

I think that we might be kidding ourselves thinking the economy will 'improve.' I think the best we can hope for is that it will level out. Gas is probably never going to go lower than $4 a gallon again, for example.

Add in that we have an entire generation of young people who are not only not reading standard U.S. 32-page booklet comics, but who are used to getting entertainment for free online, and I think Marvel and DC are in big trouble if they keep betting on the geek collector market to bail them out. We're not getting any younger, and when you A) alienate new readers, B) keep raising your prices, and C) constantly piss off your customer base, I have to think it's bad strategy.


You must also always remember that comics fans are crazy and do not react sensibly to any sort of economic stimulus. We've consistently opted to spend more money rather than wait for something cheaper, we often buy books we don't even like... hell, you know the list as well as I do. It's nuts. There's no way to forecast solely on economic issues. ONE MORE DAY was one of the most hated and controversial stories in Spider-Man history... and it did huge numbers, way more than any other Spider-book in the last year or two. Etc. Comic fans buy books they KNOW THEY WILL HATE. How do you try to out-think a market like that?

Carl said...

1. How are your comic book spending habits different from a year ago? What about six months ago?

Welp, actually, they've picked up since I now have a better job with more hours. Before, 'cause of my barely getting hours/pay at Toys'R'Us, I was lucky to buy 3 comics a week. 6 months ago, I was cutting back again, 'cause the toy season was ending along with good checks.

2. Where have you made your deepest cuts?
Welp, boycotting Marvel I guess is the biggest cut I could make in the industry. It really saves a lot when you don't have to buy every damned book in the MU 'cause there's stupid POS story going on called Civil War and the endless tie-ins and money-grubbing follow-ups. And refusing to buy all the Countdowns, Specials, 52s and so helps too on the other side.

3. How do you think the economy will affect the comic book industry, if at all.
If you recall, there was a crash a few years ago and a lot of indy companies just vanished. If the companies keep upping the prices and putting out endless specials and tie-ins, there's going to be another.

4. What about statues, action figures, and other specialty items? Have you cutback there or is that a factor?
I used to, back in the day with no serious responsiblies (those days long gone) buy a statue if I really wanted it. Action figures, only if they are really unique and good-looking. I still collection Star Trek (the one and only original series), GI Joe and the one and only Star Wars Trilogy. But, I really can't just buy like I did. If I do buy something like this, it's 'cause I'm afraid it will disappear and resurface on ebay or at the shop for a really nasty high price.

5. General comments.
Well, I guess the whole problem with all this crap going on, gas prices, stupid green eco-Nazi crap causing food prices to go up and starvation around the world and so on, you have to weigh a hobby against taking care of your family. I am putting more then half my paycheck into our budget but I still feel hestitant about spending on goodies I don't really need. I remember my parents were so careful and kept up with their money 'cause they grew up during the Depression. While the country is hurting, it's nothing like that. But I'm beginning to understand why they were that way now more...

Ragtime said...

For me, my weekly purchases have switched to over half "Indy" comics. Superman and Green Lantern will all be coming out in trades, which I can get a lot cheaper, and Superman was coming out so sporadically that there wasn't even a timing advantage to buying monthly.

6 monthlies for $18 becomes 1 trade for $14.99 (11.99 online with my Barnes & Noble card!), and with the money saved, I can try out 1 or 2 "weird" things that I otherwise wouldn't have tried.

So, in any given week, I'm either spending less or buying "Broadway Zombies."

Nick said...

1. How are your comic book spending habits different from a year ago? What about six months ago?

I am now buying all my stuff online compared to a year ago. About a year ago I was spending upwards of 240 bucks a MONTH on was just getting ridiculous + crappy treatment at LCS...yeah I had to switch. I mean...come on, I either pay almost 3 bucks for a comic or .75...that's a no brainer, even with shipping it's still dirt cheap. Now I am paying 120 most months.

2. Where have you made your deepest cuts?

I have made little cuts all over my orders. I try to be more honest in my ordering, and judge titles with a higher standard. I say to myself, "Is this book fun or are you just getting it cause your a completest and are vainly hoping it'll get better". The recent Blue Beetle run has been disappointing, and I cut it, much as I hated to. Hell..I cut Birds of Prey for awhile after the whole "magic robot in Metropolis" thing. I buy trades for more series as well. Brubakers' Daredevil, while good, got soo overloaded with advertisements and the like I just said screw it, and dropped the book. With Marvel I am generally cool with dropping a title & waiting for the trade cause I know it will be good & complete..DC unfortunately does not follow this same policy in it's trades *coughs* Sinestro Corp *coughs*No Man's Land *coughs*

3. How do you think the economy will affect the comic book industry, if at all.

Comic publishers will use the lowering value of the US dollar to justify a price increase between 3.50 and 3.99. The actual price hike has been building for awhile (see ANY mini that Marvel has published lately) but the big two will eventually up the cost using the "inflation" excuse. First and foremost comic publishers are about the money, THEN maybe a good story. I'm a cynical guy so take what I say with a grain of salt though

For sure the fuel costs in the US now are hurting local comic shops

Higher gas prices = Less people driving to their LCS. Less people means less money and bing bang boom you have the LCS closing due to the LCSs customer base getting trashed.

As much as I don't wanna admit it the days of the LCS are going the way of the Dodo. DCBS has been kicking arse with their online ordering and while there are drawbacks in ordering online, when you get right down to it, it's all a matter of the overall cost to the consumer. 2.99 vs .75; that's what LCS's are competing against...that's a bloodbath people. I know people wanna go on about loyalty to their LCS and more power to them but I live on a budget and my money goes to whomever can provide me with the most amount of comics for the least amount of money. (Much as I do LOVE The Great Escape in Louisville though)

4. What about statues, action figures, and other specialty items? Have you cutback there or is that a factor?

I never really got hooked on figures luckily. So no real cutbacks there.

5. General comments.

I was gonna write this big long thing about govt. spending and foreign'll just get me riled up and talking like Dennis Leary.

Eaglewing said...

I still go with trades for various reasons, but I've even cut back on that. It has to be something I'll read more than once to drop the money. I can try to follow plot lines online instead.

I've cut back on movies as well. Barely go to the theatre anymore, just wait for the DVD. If I buy a DVD, it must be on sale or from a used store. And again, should be something I'll watch more than once.

The economy is definitely going to hurt comic books, and movies, and books, and everything else that isn't put into a necessity bracket. Food, house, gas, and clothing. After that, good luck having 3-5 dollars to buy a single comic, or 10 bucks to see a single movie. Things are going to get a lot tighter money wise before they get better.

Doug G said...

1) I've definitely cut back. With the cost of an average Marvel or DC book up to $2.99 and my general expectation of story quality down more than the dollar, I ask myself whether most books are worth it.

2) Brand New Day. Excess Secret Invasion crossovers. Countdown. Books in which the art looks horrible at a quick glance. Books penned by writers that have proven more hype than substance.

3) The industry will probably attempt to inflate single issue prices even more.

4) Not a factor. I rarely buy.

5) I was reading my wife's recent issues of Sabrina: The Teenage Witch. Archie Comics have kept the price point at a very fair $2.25 by keeping the comics on nice newsprint. Marvel, DC and Image should follow suit and drop prices; save the fancy paper for trades and hardbacks.

Brainfreeze said...

1. I don't know that I'm buying any fewer books (I've dropped some, added some, and it seems like there's always a mini going on) but I am spending less after changing my on-line comic store last year. (We do not have a local shop so I can buy online guilt-free. :))

2. I'm not sure this was over the last year, maybe the last few years, but if I see something that might interest me I'm more likely to buy a trade than to automatically add it to my get list. I mainly find that I'm more selective about what I get than I used to be, I think hard about what I add, and I don't give a book that's gotten dull as long to recover as I used to before dropping it.

3. I imagine it'll affect the comic industry in much the same way as it will affect other businesses that deal in low-end luxuries.

4. I've definitely cut back on the action figures. Then again, we've already got so many that we're probably close to enough. :)

James Schee said...

Sorry a little late here, but wanted to add my comments.

1. Fairly different right now with money being tight. I'm not preordering anything, and haven't bought much either. The library has been great as I can get them to order a book through their interlibrary loan and only pay $2. (shipping)

2. See above, not buying much of anything. I'm not traveling places unless I have to.

3. I think it may be hurt by those who just don't have the descretionary income. Eventually everyone will adjust though and things will get back to normal.

4. I never bought them in the first place.

5. Its just a tough time all around. I know that I've made cuts and had to change jobs as the commute was too costly. Still I think think will even out eventually.