Via a DC Comics press release:
Beginning January 2011, DC Comics will implement a line-wide pricing adjustment, lowering the prices of all standard length 32-page ongoing comic book titles currently priced at $3.99 to $2.99, it was announced today by DC Comics Co-Publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio.
“Today’s announcement re-affirms DC Comics’ commitment to both our core fans and to comic book store retailers,” said Jim Lee, DC Comics Co-Publisher. “For the long term health of the industry, we are willing to take a financial risk so that readers who love our medium do not abandon the art form.”
While a lot of smaller publishers have been charging $4 for an issue for a while (and just to clarify, that's $4 for 32 pages total, with ads—only 22 of those pages actually story pages), it's been a relatively recent development that bigger publishers have been trying to charge that much for their titles. (As some have pointed out, a price increase that big is pretty extraordinary, and perhaps not entirely justified.)
At least based on my own comics-buying habits, and conversations I've had with fellow nerds—including one last night with no fewer than three friends, each of whom who illegally download their comics every month rather than having to pay $4 each for books that take all of 15 minutes to read—I can't imagine DC's move isn't going to positively impact both comic book readers and retailers. Here's hoping other publishers follow suit.
UPDATE: As noted by Blogtown commenter bp baggins, Marvel has indeed dropped their prices... sort of. (And yes, I'm embarrassed for not catching this before.) Via CBR:
During the ICv2 Conference On Comics & Digital—a Thursday afternoon industry pre-event to New York Comic Con—Marvel Senior Vice President of Sales & Circulation David Gabriel confirmed that new books launching in January 2011 will not debut at $3.99.
Note that Marvel's saying they're doing this because their digital sales are going swimmingly—there's no mention of DC's price drop, which I'm sure had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with this decision.
What's more interesting is that Marvel isn't saying whether current titles that're selling for $3.99 are going to drop to $2.99 at some point; as of now, Marvel's pricing change only seems to affect books that will launch in January. When asked for comment, my debit card expressed guarded optimism that sometime in the first quarter of 2011, Marvel's $3.99 titles would, with little fanfare, begin to sheepishly drop their prices down to $3.50 or $2.99. What can I say, he's optimistic about stuff like this.