So via author Tobias Buckell's twitter feed, I became aware of a story on Shelf Awareness (which in turn came from Bleeding Cool) about how Barnes and Nobel has decided to remove from its stores the 100 graphic novels that DC has given exclusive digital rights to Amazon's Kindle Fire. Let me just reiterate that in case you didn't quite follow - Barnes and Noble is going to stop selling the physical copies of digital comics that are exclusive to the Kindle Fire. I'm going to attempt to only quote one idiom for the rest of this post - isn't this a little like cutting off your nose to spite your face?
I'm going to back up a step and talk about the Kindle Fire. I have no Kindle currently, didn't really have a burning desire to get one (at least not in it's e-ink form). I still like reading physical books, though I do like the idea of not storing them anymore - but I still felt like e-readers weren't doing enough functions for me. On the other hand, I have a laptop computer to do things like typing up rant-y blog posts and spreadsheets and such, so I don't really need a full blown iPad. I've been using my smartphone as my catch-all for awhile, my way of web surfing at night, keeping up with twitter feeds, playing occasional games - and of course as my phone. But I was recently given a phone from my company, making having a second cell phone redundant - just as the Kindle Fire was announced, a nice up-size from my smartphone, giving me all the same functions that I tend to use my phone for but without stuff I don't need. And the Kindle Fire's screen is large enough that I can see myself reading books on it, and comics as well. Some have derided the screen size for comics, as the iPad I guess is truer to the actual size of standard comics - first I'd comment that I enjoy reading digest sized comics, and second all those younger generations that the comics companies are trying to appeal to - yeah, they read Manga which is in guess what size?
So the Kindle Fire is definitely something I'm considering picking up - and the comic news concerning this product is something I'm following closely. As I mentioned in my post earlier today, I'm more of a Marvel guy, so I'm still hoping to hear something from them about their plans to release content - but the DC news was interesting to me. It's a smart move on their part - let's face it, the Kindle Fire is going to have to be a complete disaster for it not to sell like crazy, and DC is smart to position themselves to be selling content to all those new customers. DC has opportunity right now with their line-wide relaunch getting mainstream press, not to mention the popularity of some of it's major characters like Batman and Superman (who are featured prominently in the 100 exclusive books) to add new readers via the Kindle Fire.
And I'm not so naive that I don't understand why Barnes and Noble is annoyed - they wish DC wasn't releasing these titles only on the Kindle Fire, since they have their Nook as well, and it seems obvious to me that the Nook is suffering in comparison to the Kindle Fire. Its the jump in logic that I'm not following - so Barnes and Noble is going to punish who exactly by removing DC's physical books from your shelves? I would imagine that they somehow think this is going to punish DC. The same DC that's currently seeing huge sales because of the relaunch of their line, and will likely see huge sales from their exclusive content on the Kindle Fire. Somehow I don't think they'll even notice.
I've already heard it said that this is more likely to punish the creators, and I can follow that line of thinking, but I doubt that's what Barnes and Noble really wants to do. It will certainly punish the readers, they can't get these books from Barnes and Noble and will then seek them out elsewhere... likely turning to Amazon. But I think the ones they punish the most are themselves. Imagine music stores (I know I'm stretching here, think really hard - they used to exist) getting so annoyed at Sony Music for deciding to sell a particular artist's digital backlog only through iTunes - and so they decide to pull all those same albums out of their stores. You know, stop selling music. Pretty soon people wonder why they're going to the store to buy music, since the store isn't selling it anyway, and they can just get it online from another supplier. Pretty soon you're out of business... which is exactly what happened to the music stores.
I get that the physical book stores are fighting for their lives - but I'm not sure that removing the product you're trying to sell is the answer. I welcome your thoughts.