We've all been waiting for the $3.99 comic book. We haven't been looking FORWARD to it, but I think we've all been expecting it eventually. After the meteoric rise from $2.25 to $2.50 to $2.99 (all within less than a year between late 2005 and early 2006), Marvel and DC had held steady at $2.99 from early 2006 to, well, last month for Marvel and now in a couple of months for DC.
Both of their approaches to the idea, though, have been quite clever. I'm not saying that I agree with either one, per se, but they ARE clever. I think I likely would just raise the entire line to $3.25 (maybe $3.50), but it appears that both companies are "afraid" of breaking the $3 barrier.
So both companies are instead taking a content-driven approach. It's just how they view content that is interesting.
On Marvel's side, they are taking the four-five most popular ongoing titles, and charging an extra dollar, under the theory that while fans are willing to pay for "important" content, they would be less willing to pay extra for "lesser" ongoing titles.
So Marvel picks Hulk, Bendis' Avengers books and Thor (while also making the MAX books all $4, but most of them were $4 already).
DC, on the other hand, has just announced that they will be taking mid-level titles and adding back-ups to them for an extra dollar. So the idea is to charge more while delivering more content.
They are both clever "solutions" to the problem of both companies "needing" to raise prices.
If I had to choose one that I liked "best," I think I would go with Marvel's plan, simply because it results in fewer ongoing titles raising in price. DC's a much better sell to the comic book audience as a whole, though - "Yes, we're charging you more, but it's for more content." That's a great sales point. While charging readers a "Popular Book Tax" like at Marvel is not a very good sales point, but I think in the long run, it probably helps Marvel's readers as a whole, because really, the back-ups are not guaranteed to appeal to the main title's readers at all, so it's effectively just raising the main title a buck, and here's a back-up you might or might not like added on.
Anyhow, I don't think there's a clear right or wrong either way, I'm just pleased that both companies are coming up with clever solutions to their problems (whether I agree with them). It is nice to see them take creative approaches to problem-solving.