It looks like bookstores are getting so eager for new product categories that they are actually going back to the periodical market. Barnes & Noble, the still-standing book chain, is adding comics racks to its product mix, apparently in advance of this summer’s comic book movie heavy slate. Bleeding Cool has an internal memo on the matter:

New Comics Category in Newsstand

Thor, Green Lantern and Captain America are coming to your store! We’re excited to announce a new comics category.

In early June, we will begin carrying both Marvel and DC Comics titles that until now have only been available in comics specialty stores. We’ll also have new assortments from such publishers as Dynamic Forces, so series like the popular Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris will come straight to your store. We will continue to search for new and exciting titles to add to this category to drive customer interest and sales.

To feature these new titles, we will be creating new layouts for all stores. With your help and support, we believe Newsstand sales will increase and Barnes & Noble will become the destination for comics lovers.

Of course, Borders had comics spinners racks for years and it didn’t do them much good, but they carried more vaguely family friendly offerings. With more of a corporate push, could comics periodicals become a profit center for the beleaguered bookstore?


  1. I think it could be successful if the new layout is such that it places the comic books in places of specific interest and not just on a spinner rack near the magazines. Even giving them actually front-facing rack space on the periodicals shelves would not be enough to drive interest. Rack the books in a variety of targeted places and not just in some sort of “comic book ghetto” and they’ll have a shot at moving some units.

  2. While I have a hard time seeing Barnes & Noble as much of a threat to friendly neighborhood comic shops that carry a diverse selection of titles, it’ll be nice to see B&N step their comics selection up from what it is currently. At the moment, the nearest B&N about ten minutes away close to the Ohio State University campus only carries a few single issues here and there, usually burying them in with children’s magazines regardless of the title, and has just a few shelves each of trade paperbacks/hardcovers from DC, Marvel and independents.

    Of course, if Marvel keeps marking up B&N single issue comics a dollar more than their LCS counterparts as they’ve done in the recent past, then I really can’t see B&N selling many of them.

  3. I agree – my Borders had them shunted off to the side near the magazines, you had to actively look for it in order to find it. Why not rack them near the kids/young adult sections?
    Of course, I suppose the problem is these stores basically encourage customers to sit and read, so I imagine kids would be able to read their way through most of the comics while their parents shop, and not have to actually buy anything.

  4. B&N, at least the one at Union Square, has a spinner rack similar to the ones found in Borders.

    I know nothing about this, but seeing how I purchased my weekly comics at B. Dalton back in the day (1984), I support this.

    Comics shops are becoming B&Ns… magazines, books, snacks, DVDs, toys, games, art supplies…

    (P.S. The B&N Member Card gets you 10% off all magazines.)

    Oh, and in related news, the nook app store has started offering graphic novel apps designed by ComiXology.

  5. “but seeing how I purchased my weekly comics at B. Dalton back in the day (1984), I support this.”

    Ditto! :-O

  6. It’ll only make an impact if they manage to do something about the price. Non-comic readers are gonna flip when they’re introduced to the $4 floppy.

  7. I think that this could be a positive thing for the industry, akin to how some periodical presence in 7-Elevens, Borders, and Walmarts has been in the past.

    These are great venues for someone to be exposed to periodical comics alongside the OGN’s and collections they’ve been stocking. When they want the “real deal” with reliable selection, service, and community, they will find it in Direct Market comic shops like ours.

  8. “(P.S. The B&N Member Card gets you 10% off all magazines.)”

    Doesn’t it cost $25 to get the member card for one year, though? Unless you buy at lot of items from B&N in a single year, it’s hard to justify that expense.

  9. Well, that’s $250 worth of merchandise (not counting extra member coupon discounts). $20 a month. Seven comics at $2.99. Add in the occasional grande, nonfat, no whip, one pump sugar-free, no foam, extra hot, double vanilla latte that you’ll sip while “browsing” the comics, and it pays for itself rather quickly.

    Or start a comics club with an employee. They get 30% off.

  10. I agree that not much product is going to move at $4 per. With comics fans likely buying new comics sooner and likely with a discount from a direct market source, are they expecting new/casual fans to pay more to get the books later and in poorer condition from having been exposed to the rigors of the spinner rack? Brilliant.

  11. Okay… not much product will move… but SOME will.

    My opinion… this isn’t aimed at fans. It’s aimed at the casual consumer. Unfortunately, the bulk of what DC and Marvel publishes is not aimed at the casual consumer.

    Try this experiment: Go to your comics shop. Pick an ongoing monthly comic you haven’t read for awhile. Read the comic, and see how much of the story you understand. Was Shooter’s Dictum followed?

  12. Ironic to hear this news on the same day I was turned down by one of my local B&N stores for doing an in-store signing for my latest graphic novel. The reason? My GN isn’t “modeled” for their store (i.e. they don’t carry it).

    And no, it’s not a self-published small fry book. It’s a big release from IDW, with a very bookstore friendly marquee name on the cover. You’d think they’d want to actually sell some books at a bookstore, right?

    I’m so over big box stores and their maddening bureaucracy.

  13. I’d be curious if the new items they’re adding are going to be returnable, meaning they’ve convinced DC, Marvel, Dynamite and whoever else they have to take a the risk of printing multiple copies for every one sold for an expanded product line (at least DC and Marvel were already selling some comics on those terms), or they’re buying the comics non-returnable from the direct market, as I believe it was at least strongly implied Hastings was doing when they expanded their periodical comic book selection.

  14. no matter where you put them, how do you get people who don’t read comics to buy them? if they had no reason to buy archie or etc. what makes you think they are going to buy them droves now that they are more in your face? no matter how you market it the product needs to be good and speak to the consumer. are there comics being made for that untapped market? personally i dont think we have comics for the people outside of comics fandom.

  15. AACRO…
    Two markets to consider:
    Kids comics
    Licensed comics

    Kids comics are usually done-in-one stories.

    Licensed comics usually are approved by the trademark holder, and tend to be better constructed. The story arcs are self-contained, not continual like the soap operas of superhero comics.

    “personally i dont think we have comics for the people outside of comics fandom.”

    Ten years ago, those “people” were manga readers. Twenty years ago, those “people” were reading Maus (and Bloom County, Life In Hell, The Far Side, and Calvin & Hobbes; all of which made the NY Times Bestseller list).

    Currently, the kids graphic novel market is exploding. Don’t believe me? Go take a look at this year’s batch of Free Comic Book Day titles. I consider 2/3 to be “kid friendly”. Of course, FCBD was created to get the average person INTO comics shops, to discover titles which would appeal to them. So it makes sense for publishers to produce titles and properties which appeal to non-fans.

    I can ask a person what they like to read, and find a quality graphic novel which would appeal to that person’s tastes. It’s not likely to be a DC or Marvel title, but it will be a comic book. If you’re bored with Marvel or DC, but want more serious superhero stories, I can create a stack of books as tall as you.

    Otherwise, if we don’t get new people reading comics, comics will follow the life cycle of pulp fandom: older fans in a small sub-culture overdosing on nostalgia.

  16. “Otherwise, if we don’t get new people reading comics, comics will follow the life cycle of pulp fandom: older fans in a small sub-culture overdosing on nostalgia.”

    FOLLOW?!? We’re practically there now!!! :-O

  17. Here kid. Here’s a Superman comic. Oh by the way…the storyline currently runs for a year and crosses over to 28 other comics, many of which we don’t carry. So you gotta come back every week and convince your parents to shell out 30-50 bucks a month on these things. And the story line involves something that happened 22 years ago, you know “pre-Crisis”, before you were born in comics you never read with characters that don’t even exist anymore. But I’m sure you’ll catch right on.

    Where are you going kid? Don’t you want this comic book??

  18. This move relates to the plethora of comic-based movies and genre television shows coming out in the next five years. The comics are just more ancillary merchandise that B & N has elected to carry to support the other media. You watched the show/movie/DVD now read the comic.

    It’s an interesting move and they will sell product if they market it correctly.