Saturday, October 8, 2011

DC Comics VS Barnes & Noble

This one's a head scratcher from a couple of angles.

So, by now you've all heard of the Kindle Fire, yes? I'm just going to assume that, as long as your name is not Nathaniel, your answer is a resounding yes.

However, for Nathaniel's sake--the Kindle Fire is the wonderfully priced tablet that will actually give the iPad a run for its money. Personally, I think this $200 wonder product will change the publishing landscape (again) by offering an affordable alternative to the iPad and thus open up a completely new and untapped market that publishers have to take advantage of.

It's simple math, really.

DC Comics is at the forefront of the Fire-storm (get it?), announcing that they will make available 100 graphic novels exclusively to the Fire. Pretty revolutionary thinking, I'd say.

Fire is going to have a MASSIVE launch in mid-November, and with DC going exclusive they will own a large portion of that, "Gee, I have this cool new thing now and I need some content right away!" crowd.

And that's going to be a big crowd; one that will be looking for more cool things in the near future.

DC's announcement was such a good idea that Barnes & Noble--bookseller and eBook reader maker--completely wigged out. Totally lost their stuff, man. See, DC and Barnes & Noble have been hammering away on a potential deal that would send a ton of DC product to B&N's nook device.

For a multitude of reasons, that deal never happened and DC decided to go all Amazon on them.

Barnes & Noble, understandably, was a bit tweaked off. So, in a not-very-level-headed decision, the Powers That Be at B&N sent out orders to all of their retail stores to pull all 100 of those DC/Fire exclusive books from their shelves.

And, yep, you guessed it. That list includes DC's heaviest hitters--you know, like Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, and Sandman. Major, New York Times-listed books that generate a TON of money for all parties involved.

Fine, maybe it's not Twilight money, but still. I read an old interview with Neil Gaiman--back 7 or 8 years, I think--where he mentioned how much he sees in royalties for the Sandman volumes.

It was a big number back then, and since that time Sandman trades have become way more prominent in bookstores. Or, at least they were way more prominent in bookstores.

You know, back when there were bookstores.

And here's my point. Barnes & Noble--for as much as they'd like to think it--are NOT an eReader maker. They're not. They're a bookstore. They're THE bookstore in a bookstore market that doesn't exist without them.

B&N simply cannot compete with Amazon or Apple, in any sense. Nobody can. And especially not in Apple's wheelhouse. Amazon can actually fend off the Apple Machine because Amazon has proven themselves as the single greatest seller of stuff on the planet.

Plus, Kindle has done just fine as the dot-matrix cousin to Apple's T-1000. Which is amazing when you think about it. Staggering, even.

But now that Apple has actual competition in the field, expect MEGA plans on their end to really try to dominate the eBook landscape--something that's been nice for them in recent years, but never their biggest concern.

Competition breeds brilliance, and Apple and Amazon have no shortage of either at this point.

As for Barnes & Noble and their pulling books off shelves? Reactionary, short-sighted, and ultimately bad news for everyone involved, I say. Kind of like everything else in the traditional publishing model and the bookstore market these days.

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