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Are Multiple Covers a Selling Point?

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  • Are Multiple Covers a Selling Point?

    This question has bugged me for a couple of years: is having multiple covers for each issue an advantage for Dynamite or a disadvantage? I don't see other companies doing this to the extent Dynamite does. It really doesn't matter to me. I would be thrilled if Alex Ross did every cover for Dynamite (or at least my titles). I really couldn't care less if there are multiple covers to choose from. Do people actually buy more than one issue of a title to get multiple covers? Do multiple covers drive more sales?

    The only reason I ask is that Dynamite seems to have more production delays and turnover in titles than I have observed with other companies. If they spent less time on multiple covers, would that free up resources to insure books went out on schedule?

    Just thinking out loud.

  • #2
    A few points worth pondering.

    Dynamite's cover artists and Dynamite's interior artists are two non-intersecting sets. Furthermore, most DE cover art seems non-specific to the story inside the book. There are exceptions, but as a rule, the cover could work as well for several issues of the same title. Therefore, I would postulate that cover art has nothing to do with whether the issue ships on time.

    Most people won't purchase more than one cover of the same issue. But a few will. Fewer still will want ALL the variants, but every extra copy counts. Collectively, it might make up a significant number of copies. But even if you're not buying more than one, isn't it nice to be able to pick the one you like best? If nothing else, it's better than DE choosing for you, and it turns out to be the one you'd like least.

    The multiple covers drive retail sales in the sense that a retailer wants to have several different cover versions available to his potential customers. If one cover doesn't attract a purchaser, another might.

    Limited variant covers do drive purchases by the retailer, because if a retailer knows he can sell a 1-in-25 or 1-in-50 variant cover for $10, $20, or more, he's willing to have a few unsold copies of the "regular" covers left unsold. He might have to sacrifice those during a later sale "at cost" (meaning exactly what he paid for them).

    If DE were to stop doing multiple cover variants tomorrow, many titles might wind up being cancelled. I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's the only thing keeping the company afloat, but it may be far more significant to the bottom line than you're imagining.
    Last edited by pulphero; 06-20-2014, 01:42 PM.

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    • #3
      Unless you're suggesting that because DE spent the money to purchase 2, 3, or 4 pieces of cover art for the same comic, instead of just 1 cover, they no longer have enough cash flow to pay their printer bills, and thus books for which the completed artwork has been scanned, lettered, and colored, and are ready to be sent to the printer, are NOT being sent because DE foolishly spent too much money on cover art, and has to delay the printing of the actual book until more cash comes in to pay the printer...

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      • #4
        They include all the covers in the trade paperbacks, though, don't they?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ChastMastr View Post
          They include all the covers in the trade paperbacks, though, don't they?
          That's an interesting question, Chast. I think they do, but I wonder if it's true ALL the time. It shouldn't be much of a problem with a trade paperback collecting 4-8 issues where each issue only had 2 covers, but what about those that had 4 (or more?) covers? I'll have to check out some of my DE trades, and compare against the variant cover images in an online database to see if that holds true.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by pulphero View Post
            Unless you're suggesting that because DE spent the money to purchase 2, 3, or 4 pieces of cover art for the same comic, instead of just 1 cover, they no longer have enough cash flow to pay their printer bills, and thus books for which the completed artwork has been scanned, lettered, and colored, and are ready to be sent to the printer, are NOT being sent because DE foolishly spent too much money on cover art, and has to delay the printing of the actual book until more cash comes in to pay the printer...
            Thanks, Pulphero. I was curious because I am more concerned about the content compared to the cover. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy cool covers, but content drives my decision. Case in point: Doctor Spektor. I don't particularly like any of the covers but bought the title based on the descriptions in the solicitations.

            Regarding the costs: I didnt know if money invested in extra covers meant delays or increase in printing costs because the printer is basically printing smaller quantities of several different books instead of a bigger batch for one book.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Britt68 View Post
              Regarding the costs: I didnt know if money invested in extra covers meant delays or increase in printing costs because the printer is basically printing smaller quantities of several different books instead of a bigger batch for one book.
              I think how it works is the interiors are printed all together, in one print run. The covers are printed in a different print run, but probably with several different covers "ganged" together (as it's known in the printing industry) on the same large sheets of paper. No different than the multiple interior pages being different from each other, when you think about it. After the press run the sheets are cut, the different covers are separated, combined with the cut sheets from the interiors, and bound.

              I think the economics are probably pretty clear to DE (not that that couldn't ever change over time), and that the extra expense of variant covers returns more profit than it costs, since they've been doing it so long.

              I think the variant covers are assigned and probably turned in by the artists before the actual interior content is completely written, drawn, scanned, lettered, and colored. So scheduling probably isn't an issue. The only real question is whether the amount of the company's cash that is earmarked to pay for content represents a stable cash flow relative to the profits coming in. I would guess if something changes and DE's current model of using a lot of variants becomes financially unworkable, you will see those variants disappear. Just because a lot of other companies (some more successful than DE) aren't doing it this way doesn't mean they know better or that there's only one best model of how to run a comic book company for everyone, regardless of size.

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