How to Read Comic Books on a Budget

Posted: February 20, 2014 by Ian Gaudreau in Comicology - Comic Books
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Are you a comic fan that struggles paying the $2.99 or $3.99 monthly price point for each issue?  Well, fear not!  This Game&Comic article will hopefully give you the strategies you need to help you enjoy the comics you love, but not break the bank.

Inquire Subscription Benefits at your LCS

If you live near a local comic shop (LCS), there is a good chance the shop offers a subscription service.  Subscriptions work like this: you make a list of which series you read and give it to your comic shop.  When your LCS receives the weekly shipment, they will set aside the issues for the series you read.  This guarantees you that week’s issue without going into the shop on every release date.  Not only that, but some shops will also offer you a discount if you agree to buy your comics from them each month.  This is a great way to save 15%-20% on all of your comics.

“Trade Wait”

The term ‘trade’ in the comic world sometimes stirs a lot of confusion.  Issues are individual monthly comics that have a number (such as Batman #7 or Amazing Spider-Man #582).  Issues are usually associated with first and second prints, and if a comic becomes valuable, people will be looking for a first print issue of that series.  Trade Paperbacks, or ‘trades’ are a collection of about 6 of these monthly issues (for example, a Batman trade may contain issues #1-6) and are normally cheaper.  The printing of a trade is usually irrelevant since trades come out much later than issues.  Issues are more geared towards collecting, but purchasing trades allows a reader to catch up on a story at a cheaper cost.

Trade Paperbacks are often confused with Graphic Novels, but graphic novels normally refer to a stand-alone comic book story (for example, Batman: The Killing Joke).  Amazon usually has great prices on trades and graphic novels, but be sure to look out for the term ‘Knick & Dent’ on other sites.  Knick & Dents usually have bent corners, a small ripped page, or some other defect.  Although the book may not be perfect, you may be able to purchase it for a fraction of the cover price.  Used book stores are also a great place to look for discounted books.

Interlibrary Loaning

Chances are, your local library has a comic book section and lends trade paperbacks.  If you are lucky, your library may even be involved with interlibrary loaning.  Interlibrary loaning is a coalition of libraries that agree to send books to any library in the group.  If your library is involved in interlibrary loaning, then not only do you have access to the books at your local library, but you may even have access to the collections at dozens of other libraries.  To top it off, interlibrary loaning is a free service.  Interlibrary loaning is almost always available to college students, so be sure to take advantage of it!

Go Digital

If you do not mind reading on your computer, tablet, etc., then be sure to try digital comics.  Many digital comic retailers offer a reduced price on older issues or will offer occasional coupons and sales.  ComiXology is a great place to start for anyone looking get involved with digital comics.  Marvel also offers a service called Marvel Unlimited, which is similar to a Netflix service for comic books.  You pay a monthly or annual fee and get unlimited access to over 13,000 digital Marvel comics.

Ask your friends!

Comic books are a perfect medium for friendly discussion.  If you know someone trying to get into comics, lend them some of your material so they can get a handle on what they like.  If you are new to comics, then never be afraid to ask!

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