Barnes and Noble removes Sandman, Watchmen, and other graphic novels from its shelves

My attention was caught this morning by a tweet from Neil Gaiman: “Really? Barnes and Noble will no longer sell Sandman or Watchmen?” It turns out to be true: The company was angered by DC Comics’ deal  with Amazon to sell 100 graphic novels –including Gaiman’s — exclusively on the Kindle Fire. So it ordered stores to begin stripping the DC books from their shelves. Later today, B&N issued a statement to CNN that said, in part,

“Regardless of the publisher, we will not stock physical books in our stores if we are not offered the available digital format…To sell and promote the physical book in our store showrooms and not have the e-book available for sale would undermine our promise to Barnes & Noble customer to make available any book, anywhere.”

Some Barnes & Noble stores — like the one nearest EW’s office — had completely removed the graphic novels in question by midafternoon. Other branches, like the one not far from my house in upstate New York, appear to not have heard the corporate message.

Has anyone seen this today at a Barnes & Noble? What do you think about it?

Comments (110 total) Add your comment
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  • dom

    That’s too bad. But then again, it’s good news for comic book shops, that’s where you should buying them from anyway, help out a local business that would be more than happy for your business in these tough economic times.

    • The Devil

      You know – you’re absolutely right. It’s good that you see the silver lining in this all. I almost forgot about that option because you rarely see comic book stores anymore.

      • dom

        A lot of them have gone under in this economy. Comic books are pretty much a luxury item, so that’s one of the first things that gets cut when a family is looking to pare back their budget. There were actually 4 of them pretty near me, in different directions. Now there’s two, they both have absorbed the customers of the other two, so they’re doing ok for now.

      • amj

        Agree totally! To be honest my motto has always been buy locally when possible and if not, go to Amazon! Amazon invented that concept of buying online and they deserve to own that market and they have been gracious enough to never try and move into the in-store market and respect local bookstores.

    • Flip

      I buy my graphic novels through Amazon anyway because I can get such a deep discount. My local comic book shop sells graphic novels at cover price, whereas, even after tax, a graphic novel from Amazon costs less than that.

      • dom

        I hear you, but most comic book shops will give you a discount if you’re a regular customer. Even if it means another buck or two, I’d rather give my business to the local comic book shop if possible. But that’s just me.

    • Elle

      Agree agree agree. Let B&N have their hissy fit, they’ll be the ones losing money and it’ll be going someplace better.

    • Necro

      That’s BS. I bet you’d find dozens of books with no online availability. It was merely childish punishment. Fu<k U B&N.

    • Renz

      Happy 22nd btihrday!Excellent book, by the way. Have you read Bawer’s book, While Europe Slept?

  • René De Beaumarchais

    No more mangas at BN?

  • Temp

    Wow. On the one hand thats very disapointing, I like being able to grab a good graphic novel in addition to books when I make a trip to B&N (now that borders is gone, sad)

    But I can understand B&N position. They are probably being severely impacted by Amazon and ebook sales, so they need to do something to fight back. I wouldnt have thought their position was that perilous, but with the closing of Borders I guess physical bookstores really are being slaughtered.

    Maybe netflix should dump all the DVD’s of movies that studio’s will not give them digital rights to, then maybe we would get better online content ;-)

  • Aldo


    • Diane

      Amazon apparently

  • Mincha

    Harsh–but understandable.

  • St. Olaf

    I’m at B&N in Mpls. The graphics are gone.

  • endo

    So wait… I can get Sandman on a Kindle now? THAT IS AWESOME! Thank you, B&N, for publicizing this.

    • Shannon

      Only if you buy the Kindle fire of course.

  • David

    What’s Barnes and Noble?

    • Opu

      I LOVE ME SOME WHITNEY. MY fitorave Whitney song of all times is “I Will Always Love You”!!!!

  • Laura P

    Um, does that mean they won’t sell Harry Potter books anymore since you will only be able to buy them directly from the publisher next year? Are they limiting this to only graphic novels? This is a dangerous precedent to set. Asking publishing houses to choose allegiances can only be bad for consumers.

    • sammie

      The Harry Potter ebooks are different. While they will be available for purchase only through Pottermore, supposedly they will be transferable to all major e-readers, including the Kindle and Nook, whereas the digital DC comics will only be available through Amazon and devices that support Amazon’s format.

      • M.


      • Angie

        HPs are not different, read the quote again: ““Regardless of the publisher, we will not stock physical books in our stores if we are not offered the available digital format…To sell and promote the physical book in our store showrooms and not have the e-book available for sale would undermine our promise to Barnes & Noble customer to make available any book, anywhere.”

        See the “not have the ebooks for sale” part? B&N will *not have the HP ebooks for sale*, just like the DC comics. But off course B&N will make an exception in Rowling’s case, because too much money is at stake to pull HPs.

    • E

      The policy actually seems to be asking publishing houses NOT to choose allegiances and make their digital content available on all platforms, not just one.

      • Shannon


      • daisy

        and that is why i am aok with it. Choosing to do your digital books in only one format is extremely crappy and I am disappointed in DC for doing so. If they think their fanbase is going to run out and buy a Kindle if they already have a different ereader they are just stupid. Its insulting and absurd for them to choose one ereader format over another.

      • TrishM

        I totally agree with your comment. I actually respect B&N for taking a stand. At the end of the day, it’s just us consumers who are affected when when these publishers pick & choose who can sell their products. Why so much hate to B&N? It should be DC who is to blame!

      • Yarp!

        That’s right! I won’t buy any more music until they start making cassettes again since I have a walkman in my closet! If they don’t support every format/device then I’m out!

    • Sukhman

      I tried to by the e-book vseoirn for my kindle in Canada and it is not available – not quite sure why.

  • jt

    They’re just hurting themselves. Another reason they’re not as popular as Amazon.

    • amj

      Agreed! I tend to really not like B&N. They put Borders out of business and luckily have not yet but my local bookstore out of business who is successful enough to have 3 branches in my city. If shopping online, I always go Amazon.

      • Joe

        You must realize Amazon is the behemoth putting everyone else out of business. Barnes & Noble is pushing back.

      • Julie

        Please. Borders put itself out of business.

  • Jason C.

    The DC graphic novels haven’t been pulled from online yet, which is fine with me because I only ever order online from them. I’m sure once they’ve sold all of their stock though they’ll remove them, but then again maybe not…

  • Cris

    So if not having an e-book would “undermine our promise to Barnes & Noble customer to make available any book, anywhere”, wouldn’t not carrying the physical book undermine it even more?

    • LRM

      Yes! That’s exactly what I thought when I read the statement from B&N. Thanks for voicing the same question.

    • Simms

      Couldn’t have said it better myself.
      Note to retailers 1: hissy fits do not help anyone or anything.
      Note to retailers 2: Never, ever make your customers suffer because of your disagreements with manufacturers or suppliers.

    • brittany

      That’s what I thought too. This is garbage.

    • Diane

      Stupidest movie Barnes and Nobel could make. Essentially they are forcing their customers to go to Amazon to buy the products. Way to go B&N

  • sam

    Sounds like Barnes & Noble is trying to go the way of Borders. I would think that selling the hard copy would be better than not having it at all. Aren’t they driving everybody who likes these books away from their stores?

  • HR Mitchell (@ashareem)

    Frankly, I not only understand Barnes & Noble’s decision, I agree with it. If DC is making exclusive deals with Amazon, then they don’t want my money in the first place, as I do not own a Kindle, and will not own a Kindle – I own a Nook, and while I would love to have my DC content in ebook format for it, I’m not going to go to Amazon for it.

    • daisy

      I agree 100% .

    • kate middleton

      Exactly – it’s the free market system. If DC wants the perks of an exclusive deal (probably getting big bucks from Amazon for that), then B&N has the absolute right to not sell their products in their store if they choose.

    • Diane

      Manufacturers make exclusive deals all the time. The smart move would have been to keep selling the print media and cutting their own deal with someone else

  • Stesha

    This is appalling. Barnes and Noble once agains shows us what a truly awful company they are, as a bookseller and as an employer. Support your local independents!

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