DC Comics
Trying to find DC comics in big bookstores will be much more difficult, thanks to a digital distribution deal. Image: Flickr / ginnerobot / CC-BY

Digital distribution of books and documents is becoming a multi-million dollar industry. DC Comics, owned by Warner Brothers, has found itself in the center of a fight between two major distributors. Barnes & Noble has pulled all DC products off the shelves after the comics company signed an exclusive digital deal with Amazon.

The logistics of book distribution

The distribution of books used to be simple Publishers sent books to stores, where customers purchased them. Now, book distribution encompasses chain stores, independent stores, large digital distributors, online sales and independent digital distribution. DC Comics has been using mostly traditional, non-digital distribution methods.

DC Comics signs Amazon deal

As a part of the Kindle Fire release, several DC titles were included in the list of Amazon-exclusive digital books. These digital comic books are expected to be big sellers and include such titles as “The Dark Knight.” Upon being informed that DC Digital titles would be distributed only through Amazon, Barnes & Noble pulled all DC titles off shelves at the company’s stores. Now they can only be purchased through special orders.

“We will not stock physical books in our stores if we are not offered the available digital format,” chief merchant Jaime Carey said in a statement. “To sell and promote the physical book in our store showrooms and not have the ebook available for sale would undermine our promise to Barnes & Noble customers to make available any book, anywhere, anytime.”

DC Comics left without a major distributor

Now that Barnes & Noble has pulled all DC Comics off the shelves, the comic book publisher has been left with no major retailer carrying its titles in physical stores. As one of the two biggest comics publishers, this carries implications not only for DC comics but for all authors and publishers. Digital downloads have surpassed print book sales in many metrics. Print books carry expensive overhead, while digital sales are significantly less expensive to produce. While this removes many of the barriers to entry for authors and publishers, it leaves a small margin for distributors, which tends to squeeze out smaller distributors.

Sources

Forbes.com: http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnyegriffiths/2011/10/07/has-batman-fired-the-first-shots-in-a-platform-war-dc-comics-barnes-and-noble-and-amazon/
Forbes.com: http://money.cnn.com/2011/10/07/technology/kindle_dc_comics/?npt=NP1″>
Bleeding Cool: http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/10/07/barnes-noble-pulls-watchmen-sandman-and-100-dc-graphic-novels-from-their-shelves-over-amazon-kindle-fire-deal/
L.A. Times: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2011/10/dc-graphic-novels-to-be-pulled-from-barnes-noble-in-digital-spat.html

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