For me personally there's two types of books here, the Whitmans and the Early Direct Editions. I have been collecting since I was 5 in 1979 and through the 80's and as these books would come up I started to identify the ones with the fat diamond (and all the variations of it) as books that came out of the 3 pack bags, and the later small diamonds with the slash through the barcode that eventually morphed into the spiderman head UPC were presumably early direct editions (once I knew what direct editions were). I never heard a word about any of this from anyone, I just came to my own conclusion from what I saw going on in stores at the time as I worked on back issues and noticed the differences. I avoided the Whitmans because I thought they looked ugly or wrong. I was never of the opinion they were reprints but I can see how on first glance years later they may look like reprints, especially the ones with the blank UPC box. I rarely saw Whitmans in my LCS even in the late 70s/ early 80s (maybe 1 out of 500 comics) and when I did, it was beat up. The "early direct editions" were much more common, though I can't remember if that was the only option at the LCS. Anyway I think there likely was a mix of things going on at the time but the general consensus on these books is as right as it's going to get.