In what looks like the first shots of a new tablet content war, Barnes and Noble has instructed its stores to remove the physical copies of the 100 graphic novels DC Comics plans to sell exclusively through the new Amazon Kindle Fire tablet. But an L.A. Times story on the controversy reports that the “exclusive” DC/Kindle Fire agreement was likely only a limited four month deal.
The L.A. Times is reporting that DC’s agreement to sell 100 graphic novels “exclusively” through the Amazon kindle Fire was really limited to four months. Now it appears that DC Comics plans to “swallow” the loss of sales at B&N physical stores for the next four months before offering its graphic novels for sale through all digital sales channels.
A spokesperson for DC Entertainment, the parent company of DC Comics, declined to comment on the length of their “exclusive” deal with Amazon. However, DC Entertainment released a statement that said, “We are disappointed that Barnes & Noble has made the decision to remove these books off their shelves and make them unavailable to their customers.”
And in what appears to be an acknowledgement that the Amazon Kindle Fire deal will be coming to an end, DC Entertainment added that, “ we will continue to make our content available to our fans and new readers through multiple distribution channels including locally-owned comic book retailers, independent bookstores, other bookstore chains and other widespread means such as online through Amazon and through our apps on iOS and select Android powered devices as well as new and exciting devices going forward.”
It appears that DC Comics ended up in the middle of what could become a growing content war between Barnes & Noble and Amazon. If DC Comics wasn’t aware of how B&N would react to Amazon or any other retailer getting what B&N deems to be preferential treatment, they certainly know it now. That means these books will be absent from B&N's shelves during the holiday shopping season, the biggest shopping period of the year. Last week DC Comics announced plans to sell 100 backlist graphic novels (with more to come), including such bestselling classics as Alan Moore’s Watchmen and Frank Miller’s the Dark Knight Returns, exclusively through Amazon’s new full color multimedia tablet device, the Kindle Fire.
B&N spokesperson Mary Ellen Keating confirmed that B&N will cease selling the 100 graphic novels that DC Comics plans to sell exclusively through the Kindle Fire. “We pulled those 100 DC Comics graphic novels that we were not offered in digital format. Our policy is 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.” Keating noted that the physical copies are still available for purchase through BN.com and they can be special ordered from B&N physical stores.
Jaime Carey, chief merchant, Barnes & Noble, told PW, “regardless of the publisher, we will not stock physical books in our stores if we are not offered the available digital format. In recent instances, exclusive publisher deals have prohibited Barnes & Noble from selling certain eBooks, preventing millions of our digital customers from access to those titles. To sell and promote the physical book in our store showrooms, and not have the eBook available for sale would undermine our promise to Barnes & Noble customers to make available any book, anywhere, anytime.”