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DC Comics Leaves Barnes & Noble Newsstands

30 January 2018

From Bleeding Cool:

DC Comics and Barnes & Noble have had a fractious relationship on occasion. When DC Comics released 100 graphic novels as a digital exclusive on the Amazon Fire, Barnes & Noble, owner of the Nook, pulled all those books in print from the shelves. It was quite a thing. Eventually, B&N blinked.

And of late they have been happy to run DC Days across all their stores and Marvel was able to use B&N stores to promote their floppy series Mosaic.

But Barnes & Noble also sells floppy comics as part of their magazine newsstand offerings. However, in 2013, they stopped selling Marvel Comics titles, while still selling plenty of DC, Dark Horse and Archie.

But as of late last year, it seems that offering now no longer included DC Comics.

Link to the rest at Bleeding Cool

Graphic Novels/Comics

19 Comments to “DC Comics Leaves Barnes & Noble Newsstands”

  1. Felix – can you translate this for us non-comic readers?

    • Floppies are the traditional print editions released on Wednesdays. Most series are released monthly, some bi-weekly and some weekly. Typically they are ad-supported and, these days most titles are serials with arcs running 4-6 issues.

      The more popular series are reprinted as ad-free trade paperbacks collecting story arcs.

      In parallel to the floppies, most comics publishers sell digital editions. Marvel also runs a subscription service called MARVEL UNLIMITED.

      Given B&N’s past attitudes and their catfight with DC, they might have stopped carrying Marvel weekly releases as “punishment” for Marvel Unlimited. Or, given that Marvel’s non-STAR WARS sales had a really bad run in recent times, maybe B&N saw them as unworthy of the one shelf they occupied.

      On the other hand, given B&N overall sales decline, maybe Marvel dropped *them*. That would explain DC following suit since DC weekly sales saw a big boost after they spiked their ill-conceived “NEW 52” reboot/reimagining and returned the bulk of their characters to something more closely reassembling their previous continuity.

      To be honest, I don’t see why B&N bothers.

      There is no shortage of comics shops in the country and tbey generally do well enough to survive selling back issues, compilations, and all sorts of collectibles. None of which B&N carries.

      Between digital and the trade paperback compilations, plus current floppy pricing/content length ratios, floppy sales nationally run at historically low levels.

      Where top sellers moved millions of copies in the 40’s and hundreds of thousands up to the 80’s, the business has never really recovered from the collapse of the 90’s speculators bubble.


      Today, while a few event releases reach 6 figures, many quality series stay on the market with sales in the low thousands, and not just Indie titles. There really isn’t much money in the weekly comics.

      However, there is good money in the compilations, and big money in licensing and adaptations even of old and little known properties. Enough that both TimeWarner and Disney are looking to set up their own streaming services featuring new content mined from the DC and Marvel libraries.

      Of the two, I think DC has the better long term prospects because their ip goes deeper and extends beyond superhero fantasies into SF, Fantasy, thrillers and mystery, humor, and westerns both classic and weird.

      Marvel is raking it in bigtime in the movies but there’s already the first rumblings that the movies are starting to look alike and their TV series have pacing issues. (RUNAWAYS on Hulu is fairly faithful to the source material and good viewing in its own right. But even that has pacing issues.)

      Also, DC has decades of pre-existent video content, going back to the early 40’s, both animated and live action.

      Their service will also launch earlier: late summer, early fall, and they’re already filming the first episodes of TITANS and setting up a spinoff series featuring the HAWK AND DOVE characters. If they follow the blueprint of the 80’s series it should do well. (Btw, the current BLACK LIGHTNING series on CW is getting raves.)

      Bottom line, DC leaving the racks at B&N makes perfect sense. The money lies elsewhere.

      • Here’s how the numbers look for 2017:


        Top seller runs around 120,000 units (Doomsday Clock)
        Marvel’s top seller runs around 80,000.

        It’s been a looooong time since the last million seller.

      • Many thanks. So one way or another, sales at B&N aren’t such that one side or the other care to continue them.

        I always thought that in the comic community, if you could do business with your local comic shop, you would, rather than go to a general interest bookstore.

        • That is correct.

          Pull lists are a big draw. (Typically you get a discount, too.)
          Advance notice of upcoming releases. The internet has diminished the value of that a bit but comic shops are a place to hear actual buzz and not just hype.

          Back issues. Newstands and bookstores carry new releases only. Some hold a month or two. But if you come late to a series the only choices to backfill and catch up are comic shops or digital.

          Once upon a time, I kept hearing about a space opera-ish series called NEXUS. The art was great, the covers were whimsical but it was definitely a serial well into the 40’s. No compilation trade paperbacks. No problem. I was able to pick up the whole run. First issue was a reprint but I caught up. The thing lives up to its reputation. Now that Hollywood has wised up about comic book material and realized it’s not all DC and Marvel, I would not be surprised to see a cable network or streaming service give it a shot.

          Might be the second or third best unexploited comics IP after the LSH and right tbere with STRIKEFORCE MORITURI. All great SF concepts with long term series potential.

          Anyway, no, nobody in the comics world will miss B&N except, maybe, people living within walking distance of one.

  2. Returns are a killer.

    The reason comic shops exist is that we buy the comics without returns.

  3. This tactic has never made sense to me. Yes, I get that they tried to punish their supplier, but in the process, they excluded things from their inventory, thereby driving customers who want those items to their competitor (which was what they were mad about to begin with.) Seems a lot like shooting yourself in the foot.

    • Kinda like boycotting AmazonPublishing print titles? 😉

      B&N acts as if they were still the indispensable top dog in the business.

      • >Kinda like boycotting AmazonPublishing print titles?

        Exactly. In addition to losing possible sales, they gave Amazon B&M stores a great advantage: “Five star stories you can find nowhere else!”

        It feels like they come from an abusive relationship, “See how much I just hurt myself? Don’t you feel bad now?!”

    • IIRC, the last time I was in a B&N, the only thing I bought (other than a drink) was a DC graphic novel. (Not a floppy, but still.) So, yeah, that was my first thought as well. How long before they stop carrying the graphic novels people want too, and then those readers no longer bother coming in the store.

  4. You can get Marvel comics in KU. I’ve been loving it.

    ” given that Marvel’s non-STAR WARS sales had a really bad run in recent times, maybe B&N saw them as unworthy of the one shelf they occupied.”

    When Amazing Spider-Man goes from 70k sales a month to less than 20k, people need to be fired. The problems they’ve had is diversity. They were so concerned about forcing their version of diversity down everyone’s throat, they forgot to tell a good story. Hence why their sales have tanked. Disney doesn’t let them screw with the characters too much which is why the Star Wars titles are still going strong.

    • They forgot who buys weekly comics.
      It’s not kids.
      It’s older men.

      Plus, DC is really killing it creatively, both in print and on TV.
      Alan Moore probably hates it but DOOMSDAY CLOCK is really good.

    • “Disney doesn’t let them screw with the characters too much which is why the Star Wars titles are still going strong.”

      If the last SW movie is any indication, that’s going to change.

  5. I wonder if the comics DC and Marvel provide B&N are sold with a right of return. Comic shops typically have no such right and almost always get stuck with having to eat unsold inventory. Hopefully only in a metaphorical sense, though given how many comic book shops are going out of business…

    • Comic shops rely heavily on pull lists, effectively pre-orders, to determine their orders. It reduces their exposure.

      More importantly, weekly floppies aren’t their only revenue stream. Graphic novels, compilations, manga, online sales, and collectibles are all part of the comic shop toolkit. Weekly releases are important as traffic draws so the shops are hurt when sales drop because of reader annoyance. On the flip side, notable movie releases drive significant new traffic, typically looking for back issues, compilations, and graphic novels featuring the movie characters.

      Next month, for example will drive a nice boom in BLACK PANTHER material so a savvy operator will stock up on the better trade paperbacks. Later in the year, there will be a boom in Aquaman material. And, oh so conveniently, DC has been running an absolutely beautiful Aquaman run since last year that should provide several compilations just in time for the movie release. Audiences discovering the awesomeness of Aquaman’s world in the movie will find plenty of quality material ready for further exploration.

      Don’t know where they found him but DC has a great artist in Stjepan Sejic working the current run written by long time comic and SF writer Dan Abnett.


      They are well prepared to mine the fallout from the movie.

      It’s a golden age for comic book material in video and the spillover is driving a new generation of readers to the comic shops. It’s not all bad news…

      • With the news, that BMB left Marvel to go write the Blue Boy scout you aren’t wrong about DC being ahead of the game. They self-corrected the disaster that was the New 52 and now they’re eating MArvel’s lunch. With Dan Slot leaving Amazing and Marvel having a new EIC, maybe they will self-correct too and stop being so angry about their pet projects not working. Though I was incredibly saddened to hear Dan Slot say that nothing anyone ever does or says will get MJ and Pete back together again. A real bummer for me.

        • The XMEN relaunch under Guggenheim is actually readable.
          But they’ve still carrying a lot of baggage they need to erase and refuse to clean out.

          What I find most interesting is the the current Superman run proves just how stupid retconning away the Spider-man marriage was. Jon Kent is simply a total delight of a character and his relationship with Damian Wayne is a hoot. Family man Superman is actually more interesting than the bachelor version. And outselling the biker dude version.

          Both companies have shot themselves in the foot by trying to reinvent what didn’t need reinvention but at least Jeff Johns and co owned the mistake, admitted the New 52 was a hopeless mess, and then ran with the idea and made an ongoing story out of it.

          Marvel, on the other hand, simply refuses to admit they did anything wrong. Maybe it’s corporate face-saving, or maybe they would rather blame their customers. Either way, they have a ways to go and what I’ve seen of LEGACY doesn’t seem to go anywhere near far enough.

          • Legacy is just an angry response. “Oh, you don’t like diversity you racists bigots? Well, choke on this!”

            • The few I sampled didn’t go even that far.
              All I saw was the same stories of recent vintage fronted by the “classic” 70’s Marvel trade dress, slightly tweaked. Skin deep.

              Then again I’m only really following the two core XMEN series, Blue and Gold.

              The rest of their line I gave up on years ago.
              I don’t really care what they do.

              From time to time I’ll skim an issue if I hear something unusual but otherwise…

              I’m not their target audience.

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