I'm identifying them as I find them but also trying to understand the interest in them and why they would go for higher prices than the direct editions. I can't imagine Mile High doing things willy nilly or just on a whim so I figure there must be a reason. If there's a distinguisable identifier on the cover, which there is, with the lack of the words Direct Edition on some or the word Newsstand added to others, and a smaller production number catering to the limited newstand market, and the lack of any huge quantity of unsold high grade copys making it onto the market then maybe the higher price is justified based on the limited quantity. When the customer I'm searching for told me today that Newstand Edition's were still being produced, which I didn't know, then it occured to me to question what happens to the unsold ones. That's when I remembered the sending the cover only back thing from the other magazines. The customer then tracked down some info about Barnes and Noble employees cutting covers off and sending the leftover parts to be shredded.
Wether CCL ever chooses to accept them as a distinguishable listing or not, there is precedent that says elsewhere they are and have value above and beyond the value of their counterparts of the Direct distribution persuassion so I'll continue to try and seperate them and have them for those who request.
Now it appears there is no secret warehouse filled to the rim with leftovers. It also sounds like I should check those 4 packs at Dollar Tree/Family Dollar to see if they have them. It also sounds like many are simply destroyed.
I won't try to speak for anyone but myself, but here goes....
When Marvel, in 1979, introduced markings that visually distinguished direct-sales comics from newsstand comics, they first put a slash through the UPC area. A short time later they added a diamond-shaped number/price block. Later still, they dropped the UPC altogether, and replaced it with static Marvel character shots (usually Spider-Man) or promotional messages. All of these things "look wrong" to me; none of them are pleasing to my personal graphic aesthetic. The diamond-shaped number/price block persisted until 1982. I have identified all issues in my collection with the diamond-shaped block, and I am replacing them with newsstand comics as I find suitable replacement copies.
Regarding the Spider-Man headshots replacing UPC: for only a few dollars per issue, Marvel could have eliminated the UPC area altogether, letting the full cover art be displayed instead. This might have made direct-sales copies MORE desirable than newsstand copies (ugly diamond-shaped price block notwithstanding). They didn't, and the substitute images replacing the UPC have always looked to me (subjectively) like unhealed wounds.
Not everyone feels this way. I talked to a dealer at a recent comics show about newsstand comics; he told me about a friend of his that collects direct-sales comics preferentially to newsstand comics. Apparently his friend LIKES the Spider-Man headshots, and dislikes the UPC.
Diamond-shaped blocks were replaced in 1982 with an M-shaped block (Spider-Man head shots and promotional messages replacing UPC persisted). I find the M-shaped block less ugly than the diamond-shaped block (this is purely subjective), so I'm more willing to tolerate post-1982 direct-sales Marvels in my collection than the 1979-82 issues. Nevertheless, the traditional newsstand look from the post-1982 period continues to appeal to me, and if I find nice newsstand copies from this period, I will buy them.
The M block design went away later in the 1980s IIRC, when Marvel decided the Comics Code Authority seal had some marketing value, even in comics shops. At this point, differences between newsstand and direct number/price blocks became much less conspicuous. The UPC area still had obnoxious art or promotional messaging, and I continue to prefer newsstand versions for this reason.
In the early 1990s (IIRC), Marvel added UPC to direct-sales copies. From this point forward, I can't rationally explain the appeal that newsstand comics have for me. Newsstand copies become noticeably less common than direct-sales copies by this time, so there's the scarcity factor. And like a coin collector wanting not only the 1948 coin, but also the 1948-D and the 1948-S, there is the appeal of having both versions in my collection (pence-priced comics, though, leave me indifferent, so there is inconsistency there).
At publishers other than Marvel, differences between newsstand and direct-sales copies are less conspicuous. Still, now that I've started noticing the differences, I am generally excited to find a newsstand copy of a comic that I collect, from any time period. Part of it is the feeling that, if I don't buy this now (when dealers generally don't charge more for newsstand versions), I might regret it later (when charging more for newsstand comics might become standard practice).
Another way in which newsstand comics might be preferred to direct-sales comics is that, occasionally, there have been issues where newsstand copies of an issue had fewer advertising pages than their direct-sales versions. I have found a few such comics (I think I reported them here in the CCL forums). Off the top of my head, some Batman-family issues, from the No Man's Land time period, were published this way. I thought this was particularly cynical of DC, considering that, with USPS Periodicals Mail (which may have been used to move newsstand copies to local distributors), the publisher has to pay 100% of freight for the fraction of pages dedicated to advertising, whereas in the direct market, retailers pay 100% of freight for all pages of every item ordered.
As for Mile High's reasons for separate pricing, there are some things to consider:
1) MHC's cost to create a newsstand listing is probably not particularly high; that listing is probably paid for the first time a customer orders the newsstand version.
2) MHC does NOT promise delivery of a direct-sales copy if a customer does not order a newsstand copy. A customer who orders an unspecified version of an issue may get a direct-sales copy OR a newsstand copy (I, personally, have received a newsstand copy from MHC when I failed to specify the version; I was happy to get it).
3) The two preceding considerations, taken together, reveal MHC's newsstand program to be a low-risk operation. If they have a nice inventory of newsstand versions of an issue, they can collect extra revenue from collectors willing to pay for newsstand versions, but can use the same inventory to fill orders from collectors who do not specify either version.
4) There have been a few issues published by Marvel (e.g.
, Doctor Strange Sorcerer Supreme #2) that do not seem to exist with what we would consider direct-sales markings. MHC lists, without direct-sales cover scans, such issues in an unspecified and a higher-priced newsstand version, even though they must be using identical copies to fill orders for either version.
5) DC took about a year and a half to follow Marvel's precedent, starting to print differentiated direct-sales comics in late 1980. MHC lists unspecified and higher-priced newsstand copies of DC issues published during this year and a half, even though differentiated direct-sales copies of these issues were not printed.