Robot 6

Books-A-Million also pulls DC graphic novels over Kindle Fire deal

"Superman: Earth One" on the Kindle Fire

Retail chain Books-A-Million has followed the lead of Barnes & Noble, pulling from its shelves the 100 graphic novels DC Comics plans to sell exclusively on Amazon’s new Kindle Fire.

Barnes & Noble, the largest bookstore chain in the United States, removed the top-selling titles late last week — they include The Sandman, Fables, Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns — citing a policy “that unless we receive all formats of a title to make available to our customers, we will not sell those physical titles in our stores.”

Publishers Weekly reports that Books-A-Million, which operates 211 stores in 23 states, has taken the same position, with CEO Terrance Finley saying in a press release that supporting a publisher that “selectively limits distribution of their content” isn’t in the best interest of the store’s customers.

“We will not promote titles in our stores showrooms if publishers choose to pursue these exclusive arrangements that create an uneven playing field in the marketplace,” he continued.

DC’s deal with Amazon apparently only lasts for four months, beginning Nov. 15, so it remains to be seen whether Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million will return the graphic novels to their shelves when the exclusive arrangement lapses in mid-March.

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46 Comments

Man, you would think with the terrible state that book stores and book sales in general are in, that they wouldn’t want to alienate and thin out their customer base. This seems like the most childish decision they could possibly make, not to mention it is only hurting themselves. They are literally DRIVING customers to buy the GNs from Amazon if those customers want print copies. They essentially just handed Amazon BOTH ends of the business.

I am sure others said this when BN announced this same brilliant retaliation scheme, but I wanted to reiterate it.

They are literally driving customers to Amazon? How is that possible? I think you’re using the word literally wrong.

@Nawid,

That counterpoint doesn’t really carry much weight. Honestly, it reads like a typical fan-based emotional reaction not a well reasoned business-based argument. From a business standpoint, DC has virtually nothing to lose from this deal and plenty to gain, B&N’s knee-jerk reaction notwithstanding.

Their exclusive deal with Kindle Fire is limited to 4 months. Anyone who wants a copy of one of the exclusive only books during that period but doesn’t want to buy a Fire can still buy a hardcopy from any number of LCS or booksellers (or order one from Amazon at a deep discount). If they really want a digital copy, then they can wait 4 months for the exclusive deal to expire. There’s little reason to think that anyone with an active interest in one of the books on the list is just going to throw up their hands and say “forget it.” On the flip side, the reality of consumer tech is that when people first get their hands on their new digital toys they usually act like . . . kids with new toys. A good number of the (tens of?) thousands of people who preordered a Kindle Fire will, very soon after they take it out of the box, start downloading stuff onto it, including some of the DC exclusive books which, I’m willing to bet, will be offered at a nice discount. (A discount that will only last for 4 months, so hurry and get yours today!)

This Amazon/Kindle deal (and the resulting publicity it generated) will result in significantly more DC GNs being sold in the first couple weeks following the Fire’s release than there would have been if there were no deal.

This is the part where Nelson points at Didio and laughs at him.

Digital comics are cheaper than physical copies, so in order for them to make money they have to more more volume than the physical copies. Do they? Have they for DC to justify losing these customers?

I didn’t see anyone pitching a fit when Marvel digital comics were only available on IOS. Why is this any different? Exclusives happen all the time, that’s how you get PS3 or XBox360 only games, or HD-DVD only (when it was still around) movies that weren’t available on Blu-Ray, etc. This whole thing just makes B&N look like a bunch of little kids throwing a tantrum. Get over it.

Right on Ron!

There’s plenty of people that buy at this stores that are not usual comic readers, and don’t go there with an established idea of what to buy.

My best friend, not a comic guy, ended up buying V for Vendetta last month. If V wasn’t available, would have he gone to a comic store? No, he would have bought Kick-Ass or the Walking Dead instead.

DC said they wanted their books to be as available as possible, but then sign an exclusivity deadl… it’s stupid.

Hurricane Islandheart

October 12, 2011 at 12:16 pm

@kalorama –

Those impulse buys – the “kids with new toys” as you put it – are the cornerstone of any consumer market these days, but especially ones like book stores.

For example, I recently purchased a hardcover book at Barnes & Noble that cost me $25. I had to ask an associate to locate the book for me, because it wasn’t where it was supposed to be on the shelf (it had been moved to a seasonal display in an area of the store completely unrelated to the topic of the book). While he was doing this, the associate tried to sell me a first-gen Nook, which they’re apparently deep-discounting to try and get them off their shelves. He went on and on with the “great price” and features, including telling me that I could *get the $25 hardcover I was holding in my hands at a much cheaper price on the Nook.*

I could tell he was running a spiel and that he was doing everything in his power to sell those Nooks, so I didn’t have the heart to tell him I already own an iPad I am completely happy with. I bought the hardcover book anyway – I *intentionally* buy hardcovers for the fact they’re hardcovers. If I’m worried about the “price,” then I wait for paperback or e-book copies of it. Again, this is something that completely overshot the thought process of a sales associate trying to push an e-reader.

Why push a late-model e-reader at the expense of a customer who holds a store membership card, whose sale history shows a strong history of buying physical books, and who’s a regular customer at the store, especially since Borders went under?

Because they don’t want to be Borders. If they can get those e-readers out there, then the “kids with a new toy” will make those small-increment impulse purchases at an ever increasing rate – the ones who own the devices already will want to get their money’s worth out of the investment, and new e-reader purchasers will add to the pile of impulse purchases. They know there is no future in brick and mortar book stores – illiteracy is still a large problem even in the United States, and there is no indication of the trend changing.

Why is the “Damn You, Autocorrect!” blog still going strong? People don’t take the time to continually tell their iDevice to STOP autocorrecting the word they’re trying to type in. (My iPad is bad about it. I sometimes have to retype something three to five times. However, none of my messages have ended up on DYA, either.) Kids are now convinced that books are too heavy to carry, too thick to read, and not smart enough to save their place and open back up to it when they DO read in two-minute intervals.

When DC made the deal with Amazon’s Kindle/Kindle Fire, they essentially told all of the other book sellers out there, “We’re taking away all but the most hardcore of your customers! Look, we gave all of your impulse buyers, all of your “need to have it NOW” buyers, and all of your “latest-greatest-have-to-be-there-at-midnight” buyers to Amazon! Even better, we’re sending a message to the young, impressionable, willing-to-spend kids that the KINDLE is our priority!”

I would have been surprised if there HADN’T been push-back from B&N (and others), and if there hadn’t, I’d have been concerned that they were the next book stores going under.

I dunno why signing an exclusive deal with a product that a lot of people are going to buy just to say they own one is a bad idea, its the guys pulling books out of their stores and driving customers to the digital market that are shooting themselves in the leg.

To Pablo: Its obviously not a matter of choose. Amazon paid DC to have 4 month of exclusive digital sales. So, there is money involved. Thats not new anywhere in the world. Even writers doing sign sections in a specific bookstore is because this bookstore offered more $.

Back in the day, I’d ask my mom to buy me a comic book when she went to the store. She’d buy what was available. If DC books aren’t there people will move on to what they can buy on hand. This who deal is a dream come true for all the publishers but DC.

@Hurricane Islandheart,

Those impulse buys – the “kids with new toys” as you put it – are the cornerstone of any consumer market these days, but especially ones like book stores.

Well, that was pretty much my point. By pulling the books from their shelves, B&N and BAM are basically killing any chance they have of impulse buyers while DC/Amazon/Fire are maximizing their opportunities.

“I would have been surprised if there HADN’T been push-back from B&N (and others), and if there hadn’t, I’d have been concerned that they were the next book stores going under.”

Except what their doing isn’t really “push back” because their “pushing” has no actual impact on DC or Amazon. It’s a symbolic response that serves no actual purpose, other than to hurt their own bottom line (which is already faltering in a market that’s swinging away from them).

The only reason so many people seem to care about Barnes and Noble doing this is it deals with comics, this has been Barnes and Noble’s policy since the advent of digital books. I’m sure they’ve done it with other books as well. Only reason anyone seems to care is that they think its Barnes and Noble crying and complaining that DC went with Amazon for an exclusive. Its their policy to not offer books they can’t offer on all formats. So of course if they can’t offer these DC books on the Nook they won’t offer them in the stores. ITs nothing new.

Pat, if I go to B&N looking for the The Dark Knight Returns, and can’t find it, I head off to another store. If I find it at another store, it’s likely I won’t B&N won’t be my first choice for future purchases.

In any case, I don’t buy a lot of TPB’s from bookstores. I tend to go with Amazon or the LCS for that.

These buyers who are cheking out stuff to read will just end up buying something else.

I believe these guys know how their sales work and if they do that it’s because they are not going to lose much, and think the message they are sending is worth it.

the relaunch was designed to push readers towards digital comics; dc couldn’t care less about barnes or books-a-million, which sell very little monthly books.

@Erik

The fact that they’re doing it may be nothing new (although there are conflicting reports about how strictly the “policy” has been followed in the past) but the fact that they’re making such a big, honking public deal of it is. Did they put out a press release announcing that they they were pulling those other books from their shelves? I don’t recall seeing any. People are making an issue of this because Barnes and Noble made an issue of it.

@Ron:

Ha!

I love my Kendle for books but when it comes to GNs and comics I’d rather have a physical copy. And I’ve tried reading GNs and comics on a friends i-pad it’s just not the same.

Oh, come on! How many Marvel graphic novels do you sell digitally, Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million? You’re not upset you’re losing profits, you’re upset Amazon’s getting money in a way you can’t!

It has always been B&N’s policy that if they can’t have every format of a book, they don’t want the book. Whether you agree with it is irrelevant. DC should’ve known that going into an exclusive deal with someone else, that they’d end up losing B&N. If they weren’t aware of this policy, then they’re stupid. It’s purely DC’s fault that their books are no longer at B&N and now Books-A-Million.

Speaking as a rabid DC fan-boy, DC pulled a major boner with this deal.

Wait… is there a comiXology app for the Nook? I know there is an Android app but does Barns get to sell single issues for the app? If not then doesn’t that mean they can’t offer a digital version of the single issue? I bring it up because recently I have see Barns carry more DC single issues then ever before. It just kind of sounds like one part of Barns doesn’t know what other parts are doing.

It is beyond ludicrous that anyone thinks this move hurts B&N. The move clobbers DC, and that’s why B&N did it. It’s punishment. I think it’s childish and stupid and a bad thing to do, but the move barely bruises B&N and really hits DC hard.

I love how all the comic lovers over estimate the value of comics in the market place. Comics are a fraction of B&N’s profits. B&N and Books-A-Million are doing this for one reason, they don’t want to get in bidding wars with Amazon for exclusive titles. They can’t afford it. They are sending a message loud and clear, sign an exclusive deal with Amazon and lose money on sales at their stores. This money grab by DC will cost them in the end. They will lose more money in lost sales at B&N then they got from Amazon for exclusivity. Message sent. Any money B&N loses in sales pales in comparison to the amount of money they will have to spend if exclusivity wars break out. Finally this is good for us the consumer, exclusivity sucks and drives the price of things up. We should be applauding these 2 stores for drawing a line in the sand instead of caving in and writing checks for exclusive content. Competition creates lower prices. DC and Amazon are the bad guys here and B&N smacked the only one they could.

The Kindle Fire is very resourceful and it can be used for many other things other than buying merchandize on Amazon’s website.

The Kindle Fire will be issued on a first come, first serve basis. So it is wise to get your Kindle Fire for $199 right now. http://pnoy.me/9F

Does anyone, anywhere, have actual information on how much DC is making from the Kindle exclusivity agreement? My guess is, by losing out on impulse-based holiday sales, DC will hurt more from this decision than benefit.

Also, I continue to be shocked by how many people think B&N or BAM will be hurt *at all* by their decision to pull the books. Wal-Mart doesn’t hurt when it refuses to stock a specific brand. It just sells more of some other brand.

@ Kel-El

The problem is you assume that everyone is going shopping for just DC books. They aren’t.

Secondly, for all those people who just happen to be in these to big book stores looking for a Graphic novel as a gift because they sell books won’t be seeing 100 DC books. They will see everyone else’s graphic novels and what’s left of the Dc books.

I have a local comic shop. I’m an avid reader. But the plain moms and dads out there try and shop with ease. And now shelves are full of Marvel, Dark Horse and some independent Graphic novels that will overshadow Dc.

Try and think big picture. This move with Amazon will have the effect Dc wants. New readers. The problem is. It’s now less likely their books. Except maybe digital books…

@ sly
you are dead on right!

Not sure how DC wins in this arrangement with Amazon, surely they would have anticipated a reaction (at least from B&N). They may get more exposure from Amazon in the short run but over time that is alot of physical books not being sold and alot of potential new buyers not being given exposure to crossover books like V, Fables, Y The Last Man in regular stores. Perhaps it is all part of DC’s investment in the digital future of comics, at least for non hard-core collectors. They figure Amazon is the leader in that market and want to “side” with them.

does mean theyll be cheaper?

Good for B&N and Books-A-Million. Exclusive agreements may be good for the businesses who enter into them but they are bad for the consumer. I realize B&N and Books-A-Million are not boycotting for the consumer but the effect remains the same. Considering the poor state of the comic industry I would think limiting your audience was a dumb idea and that is what DC is doing for a short term dollar.

“Comics are a fraction of B&N’s profits.

Which is exactly why this move has zero impact on DC. The numbers of DC GNs actually sold at a B&N store (as opposed to the ones pawed over by kids sitting in the aisles or hanging out at the cafe) is so small as to be insignificant to DC’s bottom line.

@kalorama “Which is exactly why this move has zero impact on DC. The numbers of DC GNs actually sold at a B&N store (as opposed to the ones pawed over by kids sitting in the aisles or hanging out at the cafe) is so small as to be insignificant to DC’s bottom line.”

Actually it has less then zero impact as DC has already made there money off those books.

@Matthew

No they haven’t. Those books are returnable.

“No they haven’t. Those books are returnable.”

Wouldn’t they just sell them on the Barnes and Noble website anyway?

@jay: Yes Jay, thats exactly what they are doing. In fact, as i understand it, you can still purchase the books in store, they just aren’t on the shelf: You have to ask for them.

B&N is really just shooting themselves in the foot… An Books-A-million is just jumping on the bandwagon for the free publicity.

“… And Books-A-million is just jumping on the bandwagon for the free publicity.”

^The truth, folks^

I’m a little torn on this topic.

Personally I think these books stores are throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but I hate exclusives. I hate being told I can only buy my items from one store or I can only get a title (book, blu-ray, whatever) if I buy hardware from a certain manufacturer. And it’s worse for me because I live in Australia which means exclusivity = we don’t get it at all.

So while I’m not happy to see book stores pulling DC titles off shelves (and the top 100 selling DC titles at that – God knows both the comics industry and the print book store industry need as many sales as possible), I’m glad to see stores finally taking a stance against exclusivity.

…CEO Terrance Finley saying in a press release that supporting a publisher that “selectively limits distribution of their content” isn’t in the best interest of the store’s customers.

So his solution is to selectively limit the content they sell. And somehow that IS in the best interest of their customers. We all know damn well if B&N or BAM were offered exclusivity, they’d have snatched it up without a second thought. Because they don’t really care about the best interest of the customers, they care about the best interest of the company.

“Which is exactly why this move has zero impact on DC. ”
This statement merely tells me that somebody hasn’t been in a BAM in awhile.

DC is losing significant retail shelf space over this deal, which will not hurt either B&N or BAM, since superhero comics is just a small niche market of what they do. The truth DOES hurt, and stepping clumsily into the eBook wars between Amazon and the others isn’t going to prop up DC’s presently falling GN bottom line during the crucial Christmas selling period.

@matthew, nawid meant those books are returnable TO THE PUBLISHER!!!

Books-A-Million just closed down a store in my town not a month ago. It’s hard to watch so many books loaded in boxes and thrown out on the curb (long enough to haul them off in a truck – they didn’t just leave them there). My sentiments are in line with most, as I cannot see how a bookstore has any business turning away publishers who WANT to sell their products in the store when the store can barely keep its doors open. One more poor decision from a corporate conglomerate; nothing new there I suppose. Of all the things to get your panties in a wad over – why can’t a corporation take a stand on obscene infant mortality rates or the ludicrous prices of prescription drugs or, hell, the NBA deadlock. But another business’ exclusive online comics? Cmaaaan. For the money these companies make, they could go print their own comics. With hookers. And blackjack.

DC should be worried. Their going to miss out on the Holiday season when parents who don’t know what their buying just pick something from the shelf.

Also, stores are the show cases for a lot of product. DC just lost a lot of show room space.

best way to deal with a competitor’s exclusivity is to cut it’s legs off. These guys should lower their prices on these DC books and advertise them as “Lower than Kindle!”

There are still Books A Million around in this area at the mall and its been open for as long as I can remember (almost 20 years). The comics section is exhaustive with the latest titles and the basic trade paperbacks so new readers can catch up on stories rather quickly. That being said, if DC were to lose its inventory completely it becomes a Dark Horse/IDW/Marvel haven. Very little independent stuff gets stocked there.

Not allowing new fans the option to have easy access to the old DC stories is pretty much shooting themselves in the foot.

DC merchandise in general seems to be dying at retail. DC has pretty much slammed the door in Mattel’s face by abandoning classics merchandise in favor of New 52 after they signed a multimillion dollar contract in 2010.

At one point, I could walk into this same mall hit up a local Target, Wal-Mart, or Toys R Us for the latest DC Classics Universe merch from Mattel and then go to Books A Million for the current issues. And this was less than 2 years ago. How times change so darn fast.

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