The NY Times digs in to the DC/Amazon/B&N/Books-a-Millions spat and doesn’t get too much further than the vague statements that everyone has made so far, but you can read between the lines a bit.

DC Comics, a division of Warner Brothers, says it is being misunderstood. But on its own Web site, it said the books would be available “exclusively to Amazon’s newly announced Kindle Fire,” with no qualification. Even the possibility that fans could have access to the books on their iPads through the Kindle app seemed disallowed.

DC now says the books will be available on other e-readers through the Kindle app. “Just because we’re starting with Amazon, this is not the be-all and end-all of our digital strategy and distribution,” said Jim Lee, co-publisher of DC Entertainment, the parent company of DC Comics. He added, however, “We are not at liberty to discuss exactly when” the comics would be available on other e-readers, citing the company’s nondisclosure agreement with Amazon.

According to the piece, Neil Gaiman — who represents 12% of the B&N banned books — is among those who attended the recent “super secret” Campfire summit thrown by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Hopefully, he gave ’em a piece of his mind.


  1. “Even the possibility that fans could have access to the books on their iPads through the Kindle app seemed disallowed.”

    Just to see what would happen, I looked up the Kindle version of WATCHMEN, and the only purchasing option that wasn’t grayed out was the one for my pre-ordered Kindle Fire. It wasn’t available for Kindle 3 or for the Kindle Android app.

    Now I don’t think anyone expects graphic novels to become available for the old-style, B&W, e-ink Kindles, but either they’re not going to be available for anything other than Fire (at least temporarily), or the Android and iPad apps will have to be upgraded to support them. Or both.

  2. “banned books” kinda has the wrong connotation to it. This isn’t the government saying we can’t read certain books, it’s a retailer deciding to no longer sell certain books. B&N is well within their rights there.

  3. Okay, that makes sense. I was bummed when I thought this deal would apply EXCLUSIVELY to Fire, as I’m a Kindle-app-on-iPad kinda guy. I can be patient. Mostly. As of now I’m just happy to have day-and-date on monthly titles hitting my iPad like clockwork.

  4. Dan:

    1) It seems that his graphic novels are the only titles of his NOT yet available as ebooks or apps. As an author, he should ask them why they are not publishing his work in an electronic format, which costs him royalties.

    (And they are not yet available on the Kindle store. Only Watchmen and Superman: Earth One appear.)

    Of course, he has no control over that work, but he could also decide to follow in the footsteps of Alan Moore and publish elsewhere. (Wonder why there wasn’t a Sandman book for the 20th anniversary? DC wouldn’t/couldn’t meet his price.)

    2) If DC didn’t anticipate retailer reaction, then that costs him print royalties in the short term. Granted, he can probably survive without those sales, but it still affects his livelihood.

    Will the single digital issues be available for comics shops to sell via Comixology or Diamond Digital? What happens when those retailers organize resistance?

    Since he has the plurality of the titles on the DC 100, and since he is also the most prominent of creators on that list, he is also the most likely to be the recipient of attention, right after Jim Lee.

    That’s more stress for him, generated by DC.

    3) Every day that DC delays offering digital comics is another day that people go elsewhere to find digital copies of those comics, which also impacts his royalties. It’s been ten years since CrossGen’s “Comics On The Web” proved the theory that digital comics encourage print sales. Gaiman has offered free downloads from other publishers… why is DC dragging its heels?

    4) Does the $9.99 pricing damage the perceived value of the print volumes? (Amazon did this initially, with publishers complaining that e-book sales undercut (returnable) print sales. Once Apple agreed to the Agency Model, Amazon had to acquiesce.) If more people buy the cheaper e-book edition than the $20 paper edition, doesn’t that affect the author’s royalties? (DC’s Fire 100 have the same MSRP as the paperbacks. The royalty is probably the same for authors.)

    Of course, if this pricing continues, then customers will expect cheap versions in the future, which also affects his royalties. (As well as other authors ability to be published. If DC can’t sell enough copies at the cheaper price demanded by customers to make a profit, then that book might not get published.)

  5. “Of course, if this pricing continues, then customers will expect cheap versions in the future, which also affects his royalties.”

    That’s why I would like much more transparency about the kind of money going in digital comics. I know that there are costs when you produce digital content but is it as much as logistics for paper comics ?