Friday, August 11, 2006

Exchange this!

I’m going to get away from reviews for a second and write about something that is really starting to get my dander up. I’m talking about currency conversion, naturally. Yesterday I was reading MacLeans, and while it’s quickly becoming a piece of crap worthy of having a crossover with The Outsiders it actually had a decent article about current pricing practices in the book market and how it’s extremely frustrating with the strength of the Canadian Dollar these days.

Basically a few years ago the Canadian Dollar bottomed out at something like sixty-six cents American. There were all these cross border trips where Yanks would come up here and walk away as if they were kingly conquerors of the Canadian market. I think Jim Carrey and Dan Akroyd pooled some money and bought Winnipeg in, like, '95.

But these days the Canadian loony is riding high, at about eighty-nine cents American. Now, take out your recent comic purchases and look at the Canadian cover price. They’re all at least a dollar more here in Canada. For instance, lets take 52. It’s $2.50 USD which at todays rates means it would cost me $2.82 CND if I bought it with my own money across the border. But I'm paying $3.50 which means each time I buy 52 I’m paying an extra sixty-eight cents – every single week. Now, I know I’m not the only Canadian buying this series, so this is starting to look like a lot of extra money being strapped onto the cover price.

Now, don’t get me wrong this isn’t going to be a one sided rant of how comic companies are evil. I know that price points are decided on long in advance and that there is probably something about shipping to Canada worked in there. Unless of course these books are printed here in Canada. If anyone knows more specifics, please inform us. I know I’d like to know.

However, where I think comic publishers can become leaders of the publishing industry is that they actually do have the luxury of adjusting their price points on a monthly basis. Book publishers will have stockpiles of books and need to sell through them before prices adjust to today’s market reality. Comics in their floppy monthly format aren’t in that position. They can react to exchange rates much quicker and there isn’t an expectation that they will “stockpile.” I mean isn’t the whole direct market based on the idea that nothing stays on the shelves? I was at a bookstore yesterday and they actually used a marker to black out the American price on their new books. I asked about it and they said they were getting too many complaints about the price. I didn't buy anything either, I was just killing time.

I know that personally, I’ve really cut down drastically on my monthly purchases because I simply can’t afford comics anymore. But I know I’d buy more if they were priced accordingly. Don’t even get me started on Trades. It’s much worse there, but I know how their publishing schedule and process is much more closely related to the book market. But floppies, c’mon?

You’ll move a larger volume of comics if they were priced accordingly. I think it would be a revenue neutral process and would possibly increase the amount of books sold month to month in Canada. Reduce the Canadian price, please. I know I’ll buy more – guaranteed – if I don’t feel like I’m being taken to the cleaners.

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