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Barnes and Noble Pulling DC Graphic Novels From Shelves
October 7, 2011 8:02 AM   Subscribe

We've all gotten used to the idea that certains movies will be available only on certain cable channels, that certain albums will be available only via certain webstores, etc. However, it does seem a little bit stranger of an idea when applied to hard copy books. And yet...
posted by Ipsifendus (51 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's not like most of those graphic novels don't end up piled on the tables near the Starbucks anyway.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:04 AM on October 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is a bit thin for a post, but still interesting if true.

I'm not sure I get the strategy here. If you're cut off from one source of revenue then killing another makes little sense.

Along these lines is today's NPR story about Eislers, a New York Times best selling author, eschewing what he calls the "legacy publishing" route.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:10 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah, the PetulantChild/TakingMyBallAndGoingHome business strategy.
posted by kmz at 8:14 AM on October 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow, my neighborhood B&N was my source for Vertigo paperbacks. Granted, it's sort of a dick move on DC's part to shut out the Nook users, but this just seems sort of short-sighted and reactionary on B&N's part. I wouldn't be surprised if this just sends more DC readers to Amazon and hastens the demise of graphic novels in mass-market bookstores.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:15 AM on October 7, 2011


Marginalizing your store by taking books off the shelves is the very best way to become the next Borders.
posted by koeselitz at 8:18 AM on October 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


My guess (former BN employee) is that they ran the sales numbers at least, and that it won't affect the Barnes and Noble bottom line. The existence of the color Kindle (at a cheaper price than the color nook) is far more devastating to BN than the tiny amount of sales they would lose by not carrying DC graphic novels.
posted by drezdn at 8:22 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Marginalizing your store by taking books off the shelves is the very best way to become the next Borders.

I don't know about that. Probably depends on what percentage of sales DC comics are to each store. I think BN feels the exclusive Kindle Fir deal impinges on profit more than the loss of in store comics sales, especially since the stores have basically been repurposed as Nooksellers and not booksellers. Some stores might suffer, but I bet DC will feel this more than BN.
posted by dave78981 at 8:27 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This strategy is relying on the idea that comic book enthusiasts rarely use the internet, and won't learn they can and should take their business elsewhere
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:27 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


We've all gotten used to the idea that certains movies will be available only on certain cable channels, that certain albums will be available only via certain webstores...

Not all of us. I'm not even used to the fact that certain games are only available on certain platforms.
posted by DU at 8:29 AM on October 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure I get the strategy here. If you're cut off from one source of revenue then killing another makes little sense.

I think it's analogous to a union going on strike. A strike is self-destructive behavior (there goes your salary for the duration) but if it inflicts enough damage on the employer that they make concessions it can be worthwhile for union members in the long run.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:31 AM on October 7, 2011


Please warn us when linking to Bleeding Cool.
posted by Legomancer at 8:31 AM on October 7, 2011


A classic example of cutting their nose off to spite their face.
posted by brand-gnu at 8:37 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's wrong with Bleeding Cool? (I admit most of the time I only read Bleeding Cool when Rich Johnston is talking about dirtbag scammers.)
posted by kmz at 8:38 AM on October 7, 2011


I really hope individual B&N managers tell the top brass to go fuck themselves. My fiance works in receiving at the local store, and I worked for the company for almost 7 years. The way the store has gone downhill in the last 3 or 4 years makes me so sad. It used to be such a cool place to work, but most of the smart, cool people have left for greener pastures. Making local stores enforce these kinds of grievances is a dick move extrordinaire.

It's not like most of those graphic novels don't end up piled on the tables near the Starbucks anyway.

True enough.
posted by themanwho at 8:38 AM on October 7, 2011


Please warn us when linking to Bleeding Cool.

Okay, why?
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:39 AM on October 7, 2011


Time to buy more Amazon stock.
posted by rtimmel at 8:41 AM on October 7, 2011


This is dumb business - smart business would have been to undercut Amazon on sales of hard copy DC tpbs, especially premium editions like hardbacks. A loss-leader to go after DC comics fans. Alienating comic book fans in order to punish a rival who's selling comic books makes very little sense.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:41 AM on October 7, 2011


I wonder how this is going to impact B&N's carrying of comic books. They shuffled newsstand to give comics an entire section. I don't know how carrying everything a month after it releases does any good.
posted by themanwho at 8:43 AM on October 7, 2011


Not all of us. I'm not even used to the fact that certain games are only available on certain platforms.

Yes, this whole buy a particular brand of device to get to rent a particular piece of content is extremely annoying. To play an old NES game I bought 20 years ago I would have to first buy a Wii, then pay to get another copy of it which will only work for that device. Even though on a technical level, pretty much every gaming device out there has a working NES emulator for it written by hobbyists so I should be able to play it on nearly anything. If in 10 years I have to buy an Amazon Whatever to be able to watch old episodes of a given TV show or buy a Barnes & Noble Something-or-Other to read a given novel it's going to make these devices in general a lot less useful.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:45 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


> To play an old NES game I bought 20 years ago

I can play those on my Android phone with a $2 emulator.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:54 AM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I only read Bleeding Cool when Rich Johnston is talking about dirtbag scammers.

Rich Johnston IS a dirtbag.
posted by Legomancer at 8:54 AM on October 7, 2011


so whatever happened with that rumor that b&n's borders-style tanking was imminent?
posted by fetamelter at 8:59 AM on October 7, 2011


If I didn't already have almost everything I wanted from DC I'd be concerned, but they're not publishing much worthwhile nowadays from what I can tell, so eh.

They'll concentrate on where they think the money is, movies and merchandise. The stories are loss-leaders anyway.
posted by rewil at 9:04 AM on October 7, 2011


Not all of us. I'm not even used to the fact that certain games are only available on certain platforms.

Games/platforms is an old restriction that is starting, thankfully, to fade. But movies/cable channels? I've never heard of such a thing, nor noticed.

As for this, at least these items are available elsewhere. Unlike those odd Starbucks-distribution deals.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:05 AM on October 7, 2011


Dear Media Industries:

Stop fracturing. Make one single place where I can get everything I want, whenever I want it, and I will gladly pay you a monthly fee. I don't care if it's Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, Verizon, Comcast, or Jim Bob Media and Liquor. I really don't. I've got money. Please, materialize and take it.

Love, memaphone.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:13 AM on October 7, 2011


Rich Johnston IS a dirtbag.

Cites? I don't mean this facetiously, I really would like to know. As I said, I'm not that familiar with his overall career.
posted by kmz at 9:22 AM on October 7, 2011


Copies will not be allowed to enter Barnes & Noble premises.

So if I brought in my own copy of Watchmen and settled in the cafe with a drink, I'd be asked to leave?

That sounds like fun. I might do it daily.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:28 AM on October 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is dumb business - smart business would have been to undercut Amazon on sales of hard copy DC tpbs, especially premium editions like hardbacks.

The thing is, there's no way Barnes and Noble can drop the price lower than Amazon can. Amazon can stomach a loss leader far easier than BN can.

To pull a real world example from the past, Amazon's sale price for Harry Potter was cheaper than what indie bookstores where able to buy the book from the publisher for.
posted by drezdn at 9:38 AM on October 7, 2011



So whatever happened with that rumor that b&n's borders-style tanking was imminent?


When Borders went down, I had heard this rumor and dismissed it, but looking at their stock price and with the release of a color Kindle, I wouldn't be surprised if at the very least they're bought out by someone next year.

It'll really come down to how they do this Christmas.
posted by drezdn at 9:41 AM on October 7, 2011


I don't understand how everyone is slamming B&N for this. DC has basically said, "We don't want to do business with you, we're giving Amazon an exclusive deal." And B&N is supposed to say, "OK no big deal"?

If I were a storekeeper, I wouldn't do business with a supplier who screwed me over that way, even if it meant losing some sales.
posted by straight at 9:45 AM on October 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


But I can still get all of those in dead-tree format at my indie comic store?

Okay, that's fine. So long as comics don't go epub only. I love my epub manga, but large-format and colour comics really need to be read big, and I will never buy a Kindle. I'm lucky - I already have my Watchman, my pre-movie VforVendetta, but I'm still working on the Sandman collection I began in 1996, but stopped collecting because I need to find not stupid covers for the graphic novels. (Neon, with Dave McKean images? yuck).
posted by jb at 9:57 AM on October 7, 2011


All products of all types are only available at certain stores. So Barnes & Noble won't carry these comics? There are lots of other things they don't carry. I can't buy bananas there, for example.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:43 AM on October 7, 2011


I think this is a great move. Do you want a world where your choice of e-reader also determines which books you can buy? Where you need one piece of hardware to read the latest Neal Stephenson and a different piece of hardware to read the latest Vernor Vinge? Of course not -- that's insanely bad for readers. But it's great for Amazon, and they have pockets deep enough to make it happen. If Barnes & Noble can stand up to them, it should. And when you read "exclusive for Kindle," you should buy something else.
posted by Honorable John at 10:46 AM on October 7, 2011 [14 favorites]


And when you buy DC graphic novels from Amazon, you get the bonus of the sweat of the workers at their 110-degree-plus warehouses as an extra bonus! When Amazon becomes the EXCLUSIVE source for anything, it's just another Walled Garden in an increasing unfree world. DC made a dick move and B&N made a countermove that, as noted above, is the inter-business equivalent of going on strike. I hope it succeeds in stopping future Amazon-dickmove-deals.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:59 AM on October 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Kindle Fire's a Hit, Sight Unseen - I doubt either DC or Amazon is really sweating this. With the recent relaunch DCs focus has been very much on digital sales.
posted by Artw at 2:02 PM on October 7, 2011


DU wrote: Not all of us. I'm not even used to the fact that certain games are only available on certain platforms

I hate that, but there's at least a half-decent technical reason that many teams don't want to port their games. It's hard to get right and takes quite a bit of time (and therefore money). In the instant case, there's not even that fig leaf to hide behind.

Also, no matter how good any Kindle is, Amazon will not be selling one to me until they support ePub and PDF out of the box. It's utterly shameful how they refuse to do so. It's also odd, in light of their digital music store being pretty much the least restrictive of any of the big brands. (you can download your songs with nothing more than a web browser, even a mobile one)
posted by wierdo at 3:56 PM on October 7, 2011


They support PDF out of the box.

IMHO ePub and PDF readers give a miserable comics reading experience right now.
posted by Artw at 3:57 PM on October 7, 2011


it seems to me that DC has a bit more to lose than barnes and noble does from this - b&n can fill that shelf space with something else that can sell - what national bookstore chain is DC going to replace b&n with?

another thing i don't think anyone's considered - if publishers realize that making exclusive deals wtih amazon are going to cost them shelf space in the only national bookstore chain, they're not going to make those deals - as vulnerable as b&n is to today's market, your average publisher is even more vulnerable

it's a preventative move on their part - they're going to get locked right out of the ebook business if they don't put some pressure on tree book publishers to avoid these deals - it's not about keeping what they've already lost - it's about preventing further loss
posted by pyramid termite at 5:05 PM on October 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yep, pyramid termite's right; Barnes & Noble did the smart play here. And, you know, I find it hard to be outraged when DC's decision to go exclusive to Kindle for its most popular titles is so blatantly stupid. A publisher putting all its eggs in the dominant basket, helping that dominant force weaken and destroy its major competitor (which last I heard had ~20% of the market) seems really dumb. This strike anybody here as good long-term strategy? It's certainly not customer-friendly strategy.

Anyway, Barnes & Noble gave a bit more info to CNN:

Barnes & Noble said it is following its usual proceedure for dealing with publishers that release digital versions of their books but withhold those e-books from B&N.

"Regardless of the publisher, we will not stock physical books in our stores if we are not offered the available digital format," the company's chief merchant, Jaime Carey, said in a written statement. "To sell and promote the physical book in our store showrooms and not have the e-book available for sale would undermine our promise to Barnes & Noble customers to make available any book, anywhere, anytime."


And DC, in its wisdom, won't say if it plans to ever make its best-selling titles available on Apple and/or B&N devices:

Will DC Comics...ever make its titles available through other merchants, including B&N's Nook store and Apple's iBooks shop?

"These titles are currently exclusive to Amazon," a company representative said. "We continue to have discussions with our other valued partners as digital is a key growth area for DC."


If anyone here was in B&N's shoes, you'd probably have done the same thing. It's the only leverage they have. And if Bleeding Cool is right that B&N is the last mass market bookstore carrying the stuff, then it might be enough leverage to force DC to back off from this stupid, non-customer-friendly move.
posted by mediareport at 5:10 PM on October 7, 2011


You know what's nice about physical bookstores? When they have books in them. I love print books; that's why I go to bookstores. When they don't have books in them, I'm not going to go.

(Sadly, sending this message to B&N kind of conflicts with the message I'm already sending them of not going because there's no B&N nearby.)
posted by zompist at 7:38 PM on October 7, 2011


I think B&N did the right thing here. I hope it serve as an example to other publishers that are thinking of offering exclusives.
posted by BurnChao at 7:39 PM on October 7, 2011


I guess I'll just order mine from Amazon. They are cheaper there anyway and usually haven't been thumbed through by 100 people.
posted by acetonic at 8:15 PM on October 7, 2011


"Regardless of the publisher, we will not stock physical books in our stores if we are not offered the available digital format," the company's chief merchant, Jaime Carey, said in a written statement. "To sell and promote the physical book in our store showrooms and not have the e-book available for sale would undermine our promise to Barnes & Noble customers to make available any book, anywhere, anytime."

Heh. I would bet money that exceptions to this will start coming out of the woodwork immediatly - tons of publishers sell their own ebooks while distributing through bookstores.
posted by Artw at 9:07 PM on October 7, 2011


Good on B&N. I generally like Amazon, but really, really don't want them to get a monopoly on e-books. And not just because I adore my Nook.
posted by gsteff at 9:18 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


So I guess DC is thinking that Nook owners who are comics fans will just go out and buy a Kindle? And not just throw up their hands and download scans from Rapidshare?
posted by straight at 11:45 PM on October 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


zompist wrote: You know what's nice about physical bookstores? When they have books in them. I love print books; that's why I go to bookstores. When they don't have books in them, I'm not going to go.

You know what's nice about a healthy market? There's more than one shop in which to buy most items. Needless to say, I don't give a hoot whether B&N stocks or doesn't stock something I'm going to refuse to buy on principle anyway. I try not to give money to people actively working against my interests. My interest is a healthy and competitive market, which is simply impossible with idiotic exclusive this and exclusive that. (maybe it's still not possible without such stupidity)

It's funny how manufacturers and retailers of almost all products are both doing their absolute best to turn their businesses into the mattress business. God forbid that we be able to comparison shop.
posted by wierdo at 6:24 AM on October 8, 2011


Rumors floating around that B&N is having second thoughts, and has instructed retail not to pull titles, but await further instructions. Twitter rumors, but still.
posted by zabuni at 3:57 PM on October 8, 2011


Gaiman hasn't exactly been a source of good info on this one. His tweet about Sony having an exclusive e-reader deal with Sony was 1) retweeted over 100 times and 2) is totally wrong:

Updated to Add

Ms Rowling's representatives have now (12:30 17 August UK time) been back in touch. They say that in fact Harry Potter e-books will be made available for all platforms simultaneously via the Pottermore website: there will be no period during which it will be available only with the Sony reader, as we had previously understood.

posted by mediareport at 8:26 AM on October 9, 2011


He has yet to offer a correction to his followers.
posted by mediareport at 8:29 AM on October 9, 2011


Ah, sorry, Neil did correct the info yesterday.
posted by mediareport at 9:10 AM on October 9, 2011


Barnes & Noble Fills DC Comics Hole with 2000AD Alan Moore Titles
posted by Artw at 10:31 AM on October 24, 2011


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