Marvel and DC have years and years worth of stories in their respective libraries. It makes sense for them to publish the stories in special collections. Whether its as a single trade for a much loved story, high quality hardcovers of a series in chronological order(DC Archives, Marvel Masterworks), or big oversized special editions of famous runs or books(DC Absolutes, Marvel Omnibus'). Of course, these cost quite a bit of green. Sure you can get some of these books at a lower price online but do you feel like shelling out thirty bucks for 10 issues of story in a nice hardcover? Or fifty dollars for 40 issues? Sounds good but the more you buy, the more you pay. So why wouldn't anyway like the idea of 17 dollar trades with 500 pages of material? Oh, that's right, they're black and white and on cheap paper.
I have a budget for comic books. I own one Absolute which was a gift, ordered an omnibus for 40 dollars off(still 60 bucks), and two archives. I'm telling you, as nice as they are I can't afford to buy all the stuff I want high end. So if I absolutely need it I'll get it but if I can pick it up in a trade series over time, that's fine by me. But when it comes to chronological reprints of older stories, I have to go with Essentials or Showcases. I own 18 essentials and 11 showcases and I love most of them. Their cheap and allow you to read a wealth of stories. I was apprehensive at first but I wanted to read the older X-Men series under Chris Claremont and tried it. I liked it, and I started buying more. When Showcase was announced I hopped on it. I found that no color didn't take away from my enjoyment of the stories.
However when I'm online I see fans just terribly upset over this line of books they have all the right to ignore. Why sling crap at the doorstep of companies knowing people would like to buy cheap reprints of series because they are more "affordable" then the high priced edition? I can't afford to buy the Justice League archives nor would I have ever considered it because I wasn't sure I'd like them. I buy the Showcase to try it out, which is 16.99 for a little more then two archives worth of stories which individually would cost 50 dollars each.
I think Marvel and DC made right by these collections and if you don't want to buy them, don't. Wait till the masterworks and archives come out. It may take longer, but they are transferring them to high class paper and color fixing each panel so why moan about the black and white reprints?