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Posted on Friday 7 October 2011 at 10:41 pm

Geekdom is confusing me again


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It was announced recently that Amazon and DC Comics have signed a deal to make Amazon the exclusive retailer for the ebook versions of many DC trade paperback comics including things like Watchmen and Sandman. So if you want to be able to have an electronic version of those comics, you have to buy a Kindle Fire and then buy the books from Amazon or, perhaps, you have to download the Kindle software to a computer and then buy the books from Amazon. I don't like this kind of exclusivity. I don't like being told that I have to purchase from a particular store if I want the products of a particular independent retailer.

Unsurprisingly, Barnes and Noble also doesn't like this exclusive deal. They'd like to be able to offer the ebooks for sale for reading on their Nook Color or on computers with Nook software installed. So it was reported today that Barnes and Noble is protesting this exclusivity deal by pulling all physical copies of the trade paper backs in question from the shelves of their stores. You'll still be able to order the items from the Barnes and Noble website, but you won't be able to get them in a physical store.

I get that Barnes and Noble's method of protest may not be the smartest thing as it will likely cost them sales. But I support that for which they are protesting, I recognize that a corporation's boycott might carry more weight than any action I could take on my own, and I'm not sure what else Barnes and Noble could do to protest so I generally support them against DC and Amazon. Here's what I don't get: all the internet geek rage about this I've seen has been directed at Barnes and Noble. As near as I can tell, most everyone in comic book fandoms affected by this are acting like Barnes and Noble is the villain in this story for daring to refuse to carry a product. There seems to be a general consensus that Barnes and Noble is completely wrong and should obviously continue to carry the DC comics in physical form at their physical stores and that this move will soon see Barnes and Noble headed the way of the dodo bird and Borders.

I really don't get it. Someone please explain to me why Barnes and Noble is the bad guy and why I'm not supposed to look beyond Barnes and Noble pulling books from the shelves to the problem of DC signing a contract with Amazon that blocks Barnes and Noble from a valuable market and that prohibits me as the consumer from having any choice at all as to what retailer and ebook reader I prefer if I would like to purchase DC products.
Confused
Feeling: Confused
Exploring: Home; soon to be bed
Listening: Jeeves and Wooster on the TV

Comments:

What's Taters, Precious?
mrstater at 9:57 pm on 08 October 2011 (UTC) (Link)
Someone please explain to me why Barnes and Noble is the bad guy and why I'm not supposed to look beyond Barnes and Noble pulling books from the shelves to the problem of DC signing a contract with Amazon that blocks Barnes and Noble from a valuable market and that prohibits me as the consumer from having any choice at all as to what retailer and ebook reader I prefer if I would like to purchase DC products.

Maybe it's purely the difference between ebooks and physical comicbooks? The B&N shoppers feel like they're the ones being punished by the store while Amazon will likely get its way (and they, being the buyers of actual, physical comic books, don't feel the Amazon/DC exclusivity deal really affected them that much at all)?
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 10:11 pm on 08 October 2011 (UTC) (Link)
I could kind of understand that. A series that is supposedly being pulled is Fables. I've read every trade paper back of Fables and have never bought a single one. I've read them all by grabbing one off the shelf at Barnes and Noble, sitting in the cafe reading it while enjoying a beverage or baked good or both, and putting it right back on the shelf for someone else to perhaps buy it. I'm not thrilled to be losing the ability to do that for future Fables trade paper backs just as I am not thrilled at the idea of not being to find excellent things through random browsing and flipping through pages, but that's just such a narrow focus in light of the whole picture.

But that can't be the entire explanation because it isn't just readers. The way I first heard about this was Neil Gaiman tweeted something about it and he's been all over it ever since. He is one of the ones leading the charge against Barnes and Noble. Ok, I get it, it's his livelihood being threatened if people can't buy Sandman, but his livelihood is also being threatened by the fact that all the people who own Nooks won't be able to get his comics as electronic files. When people have pointed this out to him, he basically says "Well of course I'm not happy about my comics being restricted to one ereader, but what does that have to do with B&N pulling the books from their shelves?" Even when asked if people should be mad at both DC/Amazon and Barnes and Noble, he's like "Barnes and Noble is the only one pulling books from shelves" when I don't see it that way at all. As far as I see it, Barnes and Noble made the decision to pull books from Barnes and Noble shelves while DC made the decision to pull books from Barnes and Noble electronic shelves and I'm not happy with the former, but I'm sure a lot better with it than with the latter, especially when the former is being done explicitly as a protest of the latter.

Please note: all Neil Gaiman "quotes" above are my impressions of his general attitude and not actual quotes. For all I know if he were to read this he'd tell me I'm completely misrepresenting him, but I don't think I am.
What's Taters, Precious?
mrstater at 11:05 pm on 08 October 2011 (UTC) (Link)
Hm. That does sound odd! I wonder if it's a really practical issue in Gaiman's cae that B&N is the best seller of Sandman comics, and Amazon is the best seller for the e-versions? Could be true across the board. Don't more people have Kindles than Nooks?

I do agree, though, an exclusivity deal isn't necessarily cool or right, but then again, it's the prerogative of the publisher if they think it's a good business venture.


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