I’m used to going to cons as a guest or a speaker (in my previous and current career as an SF author), and sometimes just as a fan. This was my first con in which I had a booth, in which we sold, among other things, our first trade paperback, Goof TPB #1.
It was a chance to get to see how people make decisions about buying comic books. This next one surprised me.
What Is a Comic Book Worth?
People choose to buy comic books because they’re worth something to them. How do you think they measure that worth?
From my own limited point of view as creator, I assumed that the ‘worth’ of a comic book comes in the experience it gave you, the reader: Did it excite you? Make you sweat? Make you laugh? Make you want to read it ten times over? Did it blow your mind? Did it touch something deep inside you?
Those are the things I am searching for, but apparently different people are looking for different things. The decision to buy a comic book seems to be based on many standards, many of which I’ve never thought of.
Here’s the one that most amazed me.
A lot of people look at graphic novels, check the price, and then check the number of pages. They divide the price by the number of pages in order to see how much they’re paying per page. Is it 13 cents a page? 15 cents a page? 20 cents a page?
They then decide if they’re getting their money’s worth by how little they’re paying per page. If it’s 13 cents a page, for example, then the comic book is a good deal and they should buy it. If it’s more, then they’re getting screwed and they’ll buy a different graphic novel that is 13 cents a page.
The price-per-page never occured to me as the deciding factor of how much a comic book is worth. For me, the length of the experience of a comic book lasts determines how much it’s worth: Will I come back to it? Will I think about it later? Will it stay as part of my emotional experience? Will I talk about it to other people?
Live and learn.