Saturday, October 8, 2011

Barnes & Noble vs. DC Comics: The Fan Response

Today in The Cube:

Batman: BANNED from B&N
So we're about 24 hours hence from the announcement that Barnes and Noble would be pulling more than 100 DC Comics graphic novel titles from its shelves nationwide in retaliation for DC Comics' exclusive deal to provide those books to Amazon's Kindle Fire over B&N's Nook Color e-reader.

And the fan response? How have the Twitterverse and Blogosphere reacted?

Strangely, the attitude can be summed up with this work: "Meh." And a shrug.

DC Publicist Courtney Simmons, in a release posted to www.zdnet.com, said in part:

DC Entertainment 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.
As one of the largest book publishers in North America, DC Entertainment’s publishing strategy is to give our consumers the choice to read our stories in whichever format they prefer but we also know that nothing will ever take away from the joy and collectability of physical books, comics and graphic novels.
This "we'll just take our money elsewhere" advice seems to have seeped in. While tweets of graphic novels being actively removed from shelves have circulated, many on Twitter have simply expressed that the move - and happily so - will drive people to their local comic shop. 
The reaction on the message boards for DC Comics was similarly muted, with the handful of responses either deriding B&N, stating they usually buy books on Amazon anyway, or saying that with the number of LCS around them, it won't hurt their ability to buy.
Escapistmagazine.com, after reporting the news, added this bit of opinion:

How did DC think Barnes & Noble was going to react to this situation? I can totally understand why the retail giant is upset about this deal between Amazon and DC, as it means a huge loss of potential revenue. At the same time, pulling the physical comics from store shelves while still selling them online seems like a response that is simultaneously petty and pointless.

In a somewhat more emotional response entitled "Barnes & Noble Tells DC Comics to Suck It", the Portland Mercury's blog had this to say:

Argh. Clumsy pissing contests between soulless corporate giants are fun to watch from the sidelines and all, but the thing that bums me out about this clumsy pissing contest is that it'll hurt readers, creators, and independent retailers all at once. In entirely too many places in the country, Barnes & Noble is the only accessible brick-and-mortar bookstore—which means Barnes & Noble shoppers who might browse into a copy of We3 or The Unwritten, who might then check out other comics, who might then head to an independent comics shop? Yeah. None of that's gonna happen, at least for the time being.
Nice work, jackasses. By all means, keep making it harder and harder for people to find and legally acquire your product. None of this makes any sense.
Bleeding Cool News, who broke the story, said Barnes & Noble employees pointed out the move was "short-sighted and reactionary", as it could drive new DC Comics readers to other ports; however, the move also leaves no big-box bookstore selling DC graphic novels. 
It's interesting that there's so little real invective being thrown around about this: in the face of such a sweeping move, I certainly expected a firestorm of geek-rage, especially with the high degree of success and attention DC has experienced with the New 52 relaunch. 
Could it be that brick-and-mortar bookstores truly ARE irrelevant in this digital age?

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