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B&N Yanks DC Titles After Exclusive Amazon Deal 125

Posted by timothy
from the will-see-your-tit-and-raise-a-tat dept.
theodp writes "In response to DC Entertainment's agreement to exclusively offer digital versions of certain titles in Amazon Kindle format, Nook maker Barnes & Noble has begun pulling DC Entertainment's graphic novels off its shelves. Confirming the decision, B&N said in a statement, '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.' Nice to see the pair is still able to keep their feud fresh on the 11th anniversary of the 1-Click patent infringement lawsuit."
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B&N Yanks DC Titles After Exclusive Amazon Deal

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  • best comics around.

    Your "in between" filler books, ash-cans, else-world type stuff and teasers are normally the things delegated to "not being printed".

    Granted, these things can be awesome, back in my days of comic collecting the else-worlds and obscure stuff was generally some of the best, but they got low distribution and weren't the "meat" of the industry. Sounds to me like they were making an excuse to make a statement. If they're not going to offer them in print they're not going to offer them in pri

    • by tgeek (941867)
      I read it a little differently. They're not referring to digital-only content. They're talking about digital copies of print content. For example "Watchmen" would still be available in print presumably from anybody (except B&N who's voluntarily choosing not to carry it anymore) - while the digital version of the same title would only be available from Amazon.

      Now, is B&N making a smart move? Probably not. But probably one that will be applauded by local mom-n-pop comic dealers. Is B&N ta
      • by errandum (2014454)

        It's a simple question, really. How much does DC comics does from B&N floor sales, and how much did Amazon pay for the deal?

        Unless DC is run by idiots, they are not losing money on this, I'm sure.

        And B&N forgot something. Doing a stunt like this is actually free publicity... I didn't know DC was an Amazon had signed this exclusivity deal... But now I do. Thank you for telling me, the consumer, where I can buy DC.

        • by westlake (615356)

          But now I do. Thank you for telling me, the consumer, where I can buy DC.

          Provided, of course, that the customer reads Slashdot.

          • Or watch their local news? I know when this story first broke a couple of days ago, our local news had it plus multiple other locations. The companies involved are big enough names to have the story go beyond niche websites.
            • I found out about it from Neil Gaiman's twitter a few days ago, as they pulled all of his Sandman graphic novels.

        • by fafaforza (248976)

          Or: "Hmm, B&N spending money advertising The Watchmen. Let me go buy it for my Nook. Oh they don't have it. One step closer to switching to a Kindle for me."

          They'd be reaching more people than /. and telling them their eReader selection is inferior to that of Amazon's.

    • Actually, since DC relaunched with their new "52" event, part of the changes included ALL comics being available in print and digital forms on the same day. So it's everything, from Action Comics to mini-series that are available in digital form the same day you can pick it up at a B&M.

  • The irony being... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    That novels, specifically graphic ones, are just about the only form of media I would prefer to buy in a physical form. My ebook reader is reserved pretty much exclusively for datasheets, and that's only so I can search them.

  • 1. Root your nook, install both readers, read any format you like.
    -or-
    2. Download calibre software (or use online version at www.2epub.com) to your pc. change the mobi files to epub.

    • by pecosdave (536896) *

      I do the inverse of that to put Google Books on my Kindle.

    • What is that exactly a solution to? Because it doesn't change the fact that B&N are removing physical copies from all their physical stores due to an exclusivity deal the publisher made with a competitor...

      On the other hand, did the B&N spokesman clarify how removing books from sale helps B&N to fulfill the prose "to make available any book, anywhere, anytime"? Surely its counter productive to that promise?

      • by hedwards (940851)

        Not really, I for one support them sticking to their guns. One of the reasons that I buy most of my books from them is that any book I see on the shelf at their stores is one that I can buy for my Nook, or really any other device that supports epubs.

        B&N isn't a small bookseller, they are one of if not the largest book sellers in the world. Pulling the books from their shelves because they can't sell them online is ultimately good for everybody and a bit surprising. Given that this means they can't make

        • by Sancho (17056) *

          They are pulling them from shelves, but not from their online shelves. You can go to barnesandnoble.com and get Watchmen today. [barnesandnoble.com]

          All they're doing is screwing their brick and mortar stores.

        • ...any book I see on the shelf at their stores is one that I can buy for my Nook, or really any other device that supports epubs.

          This is not true. B&N does have a vast ebook library and seem committed to expanding it as much as possible. But it's not even close to their full library. Many books are completely unavailable as ebooks from anywhere. Most new fiction is available in ebook format, but older titles (such as the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson) are not. Non-fiction titles

      • On the other hand, did the B&N spokesman clarify how removing books from sale helps B&N to fulfill the prose "to make available any book, anywhere, anytime"? Surely its counter productive to that promise?

        By definition of the exclusivity deal, B&N can't make the e-book version of the book available, and so if they're literally unable to make that version of the book available, how could they honestly say that they can make the "book available [on the nook], anytime"?

    • Re:Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by schnikies79 (788746) on Sunday October 09, 2011 @08:52AM (#37653408)

      Better solution. Don't buy or support them. Exclusivity deals take away consumer choice.

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      No that is not a solution, that just continues the core problem by rewarding amazon.

  • sounds interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Sunday October 09, 2011 @08:29AM (#37653326) Homepage Journal

    Without knowing what's really going on, but it seems that someone there has decided that a principle is more important than the quarterly report, and I applaud that. It will probably benefit them in the long run (e.g. leverage in the next negotiations), but it's always interesting when a company gives a reason other than "it was the profitable thing to do".

    • by MightyYar (622222) on Sunday October 09, 2011 @08:34AM (#37653356)

      I think they are still acting in their best interests. They are leveraging their physical presence to counteract Amazon's online advantage. If they are willing to lose sales at their physical stores in order to help their online division, publishers will have to take this into account when considering future exclusive deals.

      • by Wovel (964431)

        In the end, Amazon just sells more physical copies too and the publisher streamlines sale. I doubt B&N sells all that much of anything in their stores now.

      • by Tom (822)

        I realize they don't shoot themselves in the foot just because.

        But "interest" is a different animal than "profit". You can have other interests besides money.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          In this case, though, I think "interest" and "money" are the same thing. Fortunately, in this case the consumer still benefits (and that's usually the case when there is still heavy competition). Usually the consumer suffers when a company maximizes profits without any competition.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      it seems that someone there has decided that a principle is more important than the quarterly repor

      Not hardly.

      The graphic novels section of most stores serves one purpose- to draw in a certain demographic who will hopefully buy other stuff. That section does little more than take up space, and hardly ever generates positive revenue. Most people who do buy them, collect them, and will purchase from a specialty shop because most retail copies are beat to shit.

      So I read this as a move to get rid of unwanted inventory and to reclaim floor space, without letting onto that fact.

      • I don't agree. Even when I was collecting comics, I usually bought the odd graphic novel at book stores because I got a better discount there and because the selection was usually better. A reason for this might be a comic store wants you to buy old copies of the comics themselves, not reprints in GN form, because the prices and margins are way better for them. And your typical GN is not a collector's item since it is essentially a reprint. (I realize there are exceptions to this, but B&N doesn't really

    • but it seems that someone there has decided that a principle is more important than the quarterly report

      What? No. Someone there has decided that they're pissed off DC signed an exclusivity deal with a competitor and now they're retaliating because one of the largest bookstores in the world pulling all your material means you will take a big hit in your income. It has absolutely nothing to do with principles over bottom line.

  • Good Thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Sunday October 09, 2011 @08:31AM (#37653334) Homepage

    I think the rule of thumb that monopolies are bad and competition is good applies here. Barnes & Noble's decision shows integrity from my point of view. I think this sends a good message to publishers; in order to be successful in the digital world they should provide customers with more option, not less.

    • OK... Who stole the s off my 'options'?

    • by Twinbee (767046)

      Taking that approach to the extreme, publishers should spend time writing software for every OS, including even the really obscure ones which even 99% of Linux users have never heard of. More choice isn't necessarily better (apart from for creative areas like music/film etc.).

      It may take a while, but I think paper is on its way out.

      • Re:Good Thing (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Rich0 (548339) on Sunday October 09, 2011 @09:15AM (#37653482) Homepage

        Exclusive deals aren't about labor - they're about exploiting copyright to limit consumer choice.

        The problem with ebooks isn't labor at all. Google has tons of books digitized and made available for searching at no cost to publishers at all, but publishers sue them because they don't like not being the gatekeepers.

        If DC just emailed B&N a .mobi file I'm sure they'd be happy to convert it so that they can sell it.

        And, ultimately, if you take anything to the extreme it often breaks down. That doesn't mean that promoting platform-neutral formats is a bad thing. We shouldn't avoid making stuff available on 99% of the hardware out there just because it won't run on a toaster.

        • by Solandri (704621)
          I can understand a short-term exclusive deal to kick off a new book or device, but in the long-term this exclusive nonsense has got to end. Otherwise you get the stupidity that's happened on consoles, where if you buy only one console you're forever locked out of certain game titles. If this trend by book publishers continues (e.g. exclusive magazine deals with the iPad), in 20 years you'll need a dozen TVs in your house in order to get all the "exclusive" channels you want.

          Hardware should compete agai
      • by hedwards (940851)

        Epub is a standard format and apart from the DRM is available for porting to any OS where people want to access the books. Calibre for instance already runs on Windows, Linux, OSX and FreeBSD.

        • by Mista2 (1093071)

          I've always thought it odd that anyone would buy a kindle reader that can't read unencrypted .epub. It's like buying a media player that only plays .aac or .wmv and can't play .mp3. Hmm, remember those?

          • by Macgrrl (762836)

            But... it doesn't play .ogg, the horror.

          • by gmhowell (26755)

            I've always thought it odd that anyone would buy a kindle reader that can't read unencrypted .epub. It's like buying a media player that only plays .aac or .wmv and can't play .mp3. Hmm, remember those?

            Not me. In fact, I don't think you'll find a record of a media player that played only .aac and not .mp3 files.

            • by Builder (103701)

              Didn't Sony make one that started without MP3 and only added that later ?

              • by gmhowell (26755)

                Ah yes, one of those Sonys that played only ATRAC3 music. Which was neither wmv nor aac, which the earlier comment referred to. I had assumed the OP was attempting to refer to the iPod or the Zune (or some Plays For Sure thing).

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Barnes & Noble's decision shows integrity from my point of view.

      Yes, that's what they want you to think. Consider however whether B&N would refuse an exclusivity deal from DC.

    • by Wovel (964431)

      But DC will not lose a single sale...

    • by tverbeek (457094)
      Exclusive distribution deals nearly killed the comics industry back in the 90s. There's already too much balkanization of the digital comics market, with multiple platforms, none of which carry every publisher. It's as if you needed different radios to listen to different broadcasters. For a publisher to refuse to offer products through one channel solely to benefit another channel is a huge "fuck you" to the consumer, and also really a short-sighted business decision. Granted, B&N is mostly concern
  • I love DC's response: we're disappointed but we don't care. Were B&N not selling enough DC comics for them to care? Have to wonder why DC would completely cut ties with B&N to go with a new format like the kindle fire.

    just my opinion but I do not like comics on a screen. Ebooks are fine, it's just words so i don't care how they're transmitted but comics are artistic, it's like having a painting vs a digital photo of a painting, they're not the same thing.
    • by hedwards (940851)

      You're missing the point. DC opted to cut ties with B&N even though Nook Color has been out for nearly a year at this point. As for the difference between a painting and a photo of a painting, that's really not the same as the difference between a comic and a digital comic. As somebody that has spent some time painting and has some idea about printing, you don't lose anywhere near as much by digitizing a comic as you do a painting.

      If you were comparing fine art prints with the digitized ones, you would

    • Heh, you know, you are right! I'd much rather have a digital copy of a painting than the actual thing: The colors are generally more vivid(and can be adjusted on the fly), you can resize it to fit any screen, and you can have *any number* of paintings taking up the same physical space.

      And that's not even mentioning how much /nicer/ a well-drawn digital painting is than the same thing done with traditional media - it's usually higher resolution and pixel-perfect(well, at some size, anyway).

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      yea those comic books are individually hand painted for each copy. Honestly most of the time they dont even hit newspaper quality of print so the digital form, which is actually the source material, seems to be the way to go

    • I've been waiting for Marvel and DC to get off their asses and offer current content on iPad or Nook Color. I'd subscribe tomorrow to probably dozens of comics if they were available that way. I haven't collected physical comics since sometime in the 90's.

      My guess is DC is going by market share of the Kindle and was offered a pretty sweet deal by Amazon who want early, marketable content for their Kindle Fire. It's too bad. I love Batman.

    • by Macgrrl (762836)

      My husband love reading comics on his iPad. He's actually planning on getting rid of some paper comics he has sitting around in boxes because he thinks the ereader version is better. It certainly takes up less space.

    • by AvitarX (172628)

      B & N had a terrible selection of what I was interested in (primarily Vertigo stuff), which often compilations 1,4,5,6,7 or some such (often with 2 or three copies of some). It was a terrible place to find anything except the most recent random Sandman book.

      Always better to just go to the comic book shop where they had one copy of everything.

  • Since they can't uphold the "any time, anywhere" part of the promise, they decided the best thing to do would be to give up on the "any book" part too?
    • by pete_p (70057)

      By removing these books from their stores entirely, they're discouraging other publishers from giving Amazon exclusive access to their ebooks. Hopefully keeping closer to "any book, any time, anywhere" than just rolling over and letting Amazon get exclusivity.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      It's not undermining their promise. It shows me that B&N is serious about not carrying anything that they can't sell through their ebookstore. On top of that, it shows me that they're going to fight with publishers that are preventing them from doing it.

      In the long run B&N knows where things are headed, it's not a surprise that they started selling Kindles, the industry is going to be heavily represented in the future by ebooks. It's just somewhat surprising to see a major corporation like B&N w

      • by AvitarX (172628)

        Indeed, I remember reading a quote by the Borders CEO around 2000, she essentially said "We sell lots and lots of books, like tons of them, we don't need a website, we're happy to have a branded Amazon site without wasting money"

        While Barns and Noble was shoveling money into their site.

        Only one is around now.

  • Is that why their stores inventory is so sparse now? Compared to last year, their inventories have shrunk considerably, the computer section is quite thin. I'm thinking any excuse to reduce volume myself.

    • I can only imagine that computer books are kind of a pain in the butt for bookstores. They get obsolete really fast these days; I'd probably want to reduce my inventory of them, too.

      (Disclaimer: I haven't set foot in a Barnes & Noble in five-plus years. There just aren't any at the malls I go to.)

      • by masdog (794316)

        I can only imagine that computer books are kind of a pain in the butt for bookstores. They get obsolete really fast these days; I'd probably want to reduce my inventory of them, too.

        (Disclaimer: I haven't set foot in a Barnes & Noble in five-plus years. There just aren't any at the malls I go to.)

        Plus this is a subject area where it makes sense to buy an ebook. Not only can you easily bring your reference library with you on a thumbdrive or an ebook reader, but some publishers (O'Reilly) give you very good discounts to upgrade to the latest version of the book.

        • by hedwards (940851)

          I buy from O'Reilly if I have any option of doing so, their policies and upgrades are superior to any others I've seen. Plus they do things like have bundle discounts for buying both the paper and electronic version, upgrade discounts and from time to time they provide corrected versions of their ebooks for free.

        • The problem with reference books on an ereader is that navigation can be so cumbersome. Sure, finding what you want can be quick, but going back and forth between pages (or between books) is tedious compared with a physical book. So yeah, those computer books you can get in ebook format are great, but I prefer to have them in addition to the physical books, not in place of them.

          The thing is, I usually buy those physical books in the store, rather than the website, because if I want one, I want it right now.

    • by 3263827 (192923)

      Worked at B&N back in the late 90's. The computer books were expensive (costing B&N a lot of their credit line with the distributors), stolen quite frequently, and people would buy the books, read them for a couple of weeks, then return them for full cash or credit. Some stores have a great selection, others, depending on their demographics and sales patterns don't have much anymore. Can't blame them a bit for shrinking that section; it never generated much $$. And now that there's better, more accu

    • by AvitarX (172628)

      Both Borders and B&N had a firesale of computer books years ago.

      It is an impossible thing to have a profitable inventory of locally, too many very narrow topics, much better suited for online sale. Unlike most books, computer books spoil.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Exclusive deals of any sort should be illegal. They artificially limit the market resulting in opportunities to raise prices (and who is not going to do that) and are anti-consumer.

    For those that don't like the intrusion of laws into "free markets" then anyone engaging in exclusive deals should lose the protection of other laws like copyright protection. So go ahead and Region Encode and DRM protect that content but it loses all copyright or other legal protection.

    • More laws! That will fix the problem! Should this be a Commerce issue, Education, or FCC? We can have them kick in the doors at DC and seize all the comics. THAT'll teach those corporate fuckers!
  • Ok this is a silly argument for them to go and yank off something that is making them money, and bringing people into their stores.

    Sounds childish to me 'little johnny has a new 5 speed bike so I'm going to toss my old 3 speed in the river and walk to school. That will show him! '

    • by sjames (1099)

      That is entirely wrong. DC probably would prefer more rather than less distribution of their printed editions. Johnny doesn't likely care if you ride or walk at all.

    • It's called a "boycott." You'll probably study it when you get to 7th grade.
  • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Sunday October 09, 2011 @11:02AM (#37654032)

    I cant even buy their nook outside the US. Dear god let this walled garden crap be over soon.

    • by Menkhaf (627996)
      Could that be because B&N doesn't have any stores outside of the USA?
      I bought my Nook on eBay, works perfectly, arrived in great condition within a week (and I'm in Europe). I don't see what the problem is.
    • I cant even buy their nook outside the US. Dear god let this walled garden crap be over soon.

      It is already over. Just don't buy into their crap.

      Option 1: Google for whatever you are looking for it in ripped epub. Download it. Read it on wherever gadget you want.

      Option 2: Google for whatever you are looking for in an ebook shop. Find out it is not available without DRM. Look for it in the DRMed format that your gadget of the day supports. Pay for it, assuming the billing address on your card is in the right zone for the particular web shop to sell you the particular content. Enjoy it only on t

      • by Mista2 (1093071)

        Want Neal Stevenson's Reamde as an e-book? Yes it's in kindle, in the US only. I don't live there so that sucks. ThePiratebay had a copy thou so I got it there. I would have paid $ for it if it was able to be sold to me.

        • by Gizzmonic (412910)

          How about buying a dead-tree edition? Or maybe even take it out of the goddamn library, you deadbeat?

          • by spauldo (118058)

            That's not the point. He is obviously uninterested in the physical copy, or he would have bought it (or borrowed it from the library) instead.

            The point is that he would buy the ebook version if he could. He can't, for wholly artificial reasons. The market has cut him out, so he goes around it.

            They've made it easier for a potential paying customer to pirate their goods than to purchase them legally. There will always be piracy, but this is a sale they've lost because of their own policies.

      • by fafaforza (248976)

        Should check your eyesight if you see no reason for getting an eReader.

  • Local Neighborhood (Score:5, Interesting)

    by khr (708262) <kevinrubin@gmail.com> on Sunday October 09, 2011 @12:53PM (#37654752) Homepage

    Well, I guess I'll just continue to buy my DC graphic novels at my local, neighborhood comic book shop... The place where the proprietors are enthusiasts and chit-chat about the topic when I go in and can offer suggestions and good discussions about them, making a much more pleasant shopping experience.

    • That isn't the point. This isn't a local vs. big store issue, and it isn't really about comic books. It is about publishers and bookstores, and the balance of power between them. Exclusive deals between publishers and a specific store with a specific DRM tied to a specific brand of ebook reader are bad. Even if it happens to be the biggest store that services the most people, it just helps to support a monopoly. And even if it were a smaller store that just happened to use your personal brand, so you pe

      • by fafaforza (248976)

        And between online ebook store, you couldn't pick a more closed one. Readers like Sony's and others (not terribly sure about most of the others) use the open ePub format and support Adobe's ADC, so you can purchase books at a store, regardless of which reader you have.

        I'm surprised people are down on B&N for this. Give them a hand and they'll take the whole arm. How many other titles will be exclusively available in DRMed MOBI if stuff like this is accepted without a peep?

    • by webheaded (997188)
      My shop (Atomic Comics) had all their 4 stores close up shop and that just brought me full on over to the world of ordering comic books online (DCBService.com if anyone is interested). I miss the people there, sure, but most of them got jobs somewhere else so the people I REALLY liked are gone now. I drove over 10 miles to go to the comic shop with all the people I liked rather than the one a block from my house because they were awesome. There are other stores but none of them seem to be as cool. I'm s
    • Your local comic shop proprietor(s) truly thank you for it. A friend of mine owns a shop in South Florida, and it's amazing how difficult it is for these shops to stay open given so many competing avenues to purchase comics and such. Between the national book chains, digital comics, etc., it seems that the publishers hardly care about the little shops that have fostered and helped to grow the comic-loving community over all these years.

      Don't even get me started with the artificial scarcity of DC's "New 52,

      • by fafaforza (248976)

        But you do have to wonder how much life is left in those small comic book shops. Mom&pop owned book stores that carry all kinds of books that likely cater to a more diverse customers are finding it difficult to stay open, so a shop catering to a very specific group of readers would have even a harder time. Kids no longer read these; they have their touch phones and video games. So your customer base is dwindling down to aging people trying to relive their glory years of comics.

  • ' '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.'

    Errr ... so pulling the physical books off the shelf then makes those books available 'anywhere, anytime' ??? Um, doesn't that make them less available? I think what they meant to say was DC are being a bunch of *#@$%*** by helping Amazon create a Monopoly!!!!

    • by fafaforza (248976)

      I think that's called making a stand, and trying to force the other guys hand so that your books ARE available anywhere, any time, on any device, and not to settle on only 2 of those.

      Why would you be so shortsighted as to only see the immediate sales of the physical comics versus a set precedent of exclusive content?

  • I forecast that eventually, libraries will have a supply of e-book readers, already loaded with an e-book. Whereas before you signed out a book, now you will sign-out the e-book. There will be e-book clubs where users will swap pre-loaded e-books.

    Publishers want to put a count and date code on e-books so that the book expires after a certain date or following a certain number of uses.

    Sigh, what happened to the good old days.

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