Newsstand or Direct
A question often asked is, what is the difference between Newsstand Editions and Direct Editions and how can you tell them apart. Well there is a long drawn out complicated answer. Then there is the short to the point answer I am gonna share with you.
When the barcode was introduced, and Newsstands were the primary avenue to obtain comics, the barcode was how you bought and paid for them. At that time, any comics not sold from the newsstands, could have the cover torn off and returned for refund. In 1979 as more shops began operating and distributors needed to distinguish the difference between where the comics were sold, a system was needed to tell the difference between the two, because Comic ShopS were not allowed to return unsold books.
Because of this, a slash was added through the barcode for the direct editions sold at comic shops so everyone could distinguish between the two. Costumers nor the shops liked the slashes. So the programs became unified with logo’s that lasted till 1987. These are the Spider-Man mask, Hulk face, Captain America etc. After 1987 publishers used what ever they wanted in the block.
So, barcodes were initially for Newsstand Editions and logos and other gimmicks were for Direct Editions. There was a short time that both major publications went back to barcodes but inside the barcode are the words: Direct Edition or Newsstand Edition. In 2013 Marvel stopped Newsstand Editions altogether.
Because newsstands did not take particularly good care of their comics. With most being handled constantly, and a majority of them being in less than fine condition. Any of these books found in high grade to super high grade carry a premium over their direct sales counterpart.
There are examples on this page for you to review and compare Newsstand and Direct Editions.