Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Quest For Kindle Fire Part 1: DC Entertainment’s Exclusive Digital Comics Deal Angers Barnes And Noble

At first I was a little loathed to discuss the whole Kindle Fire fiasco between DC Comics and Barnes And Noble. One reason is because I think both parties are being stupid, while another is that I couldn’t make linking codes to the Kindle Fire without getting an affiliate commission in Canadian currency. That last issue seems petty, but it’s actually a matter of me wanting to not overload my readers with advertising. I find them invasive enough as it is, so I don’t want to complicate things by having two sets of outgoing links.

This would be a lot easier if Amazon used one referral code for all of its stores instead of treating each country as a separate business. Eventually, I caved on both counts, because .com has a wider selection of products than .ca, because 1/3 of my readers is already American (which will likely become the majority once this blog gets bigger) and because everybody involved in the online comic industry is acting like they’re five cans short of six-pack.

The major goof that is pissing off comic fans, e-book readers, tablet users, book stores and puppy dogs around the world started back in September. DC Entertainment made a cool announcement pertaining to the digital publishing aspect of their business. They claimed that they made a major deal with Amazon, which would publish their graphic novels as e-books. Pretty sweet, right? I know I’d love a tablet for reading my comics since, as all collectors know, finding somewhere to put them all becomes quite a difficult chore. So hearing that they’d be starting off with 100 popular graphic novels like Watchmen got people excited. The problem, however, is that they claimed they would be making these digital graphic novels exclusive to the Kindle Fire.

Naturally, fans everywhere got more than a little ticked off, especially when that same press release quoted Jim Lee’s excitement over how these e-graphic novels make the comics more accessible to people. After all, how can it be accessible to people who own non-Kindle e-readers and tablets if they’re exclusive to only the Kindle Fire? Well, here’s the thing: they’re not exclusive to the Kindle Fire at all.

Whoever made this press release for DC Entertainment did not do their homework. The e-books are not permanently exclusive to a single tablet, they are temporarily exclusive to Amazon. If you want to purchase something like the Superman Earth One e-book, then for the first four months of its release, you have to go through the Kindle Store (which is where Amazon sells all of its e-books). After those initial four months, the graphic novel will become available digitally wherever e-books are sold.

In other words, they work on all electronic devices (computers, e-readers, tablets; you name it) that can play an e-book. However, as digital buyers already know, DC Entertainment releases their comics through the Comixology app. That app comes pre-loaded on the Kindle Fire, so if you were to read any of DC’s digital graphic novels on the Fire, it would be best to do so through the app instead of its e-reader function. Thus, the Kindle Fire is the best choice among Amazon’s products for reading the digital graphic novels.

As you can see, whoever made the press release deserves a good smack upside the head. They’re not the only ones, though. Barnes And Noble has officially announced that is dropping all DC graphic novels and digital graphic novels from its inventory. The logic is that if the e-books can’t be played on their own tablet, the NOOK, then their policy is that they will not sell it. Another policy is that if they don’t sell the e-book, they will not sell its physical copy in their stores, either.

This deals a huge blow to both DC Comics and Barnes And Noble, but it’s a blow that neither of them have to take. As mentioned, the e-books will work on any tablet. Where this is most likely coming from is a fear that the temporary-exclusivity deal DC Entertainment has with Amazon will lead to NOOK users purchasing through a Kindle app rather than through the online Barnes And Noble store.

It’s understandable that they should have this fear, but how does forcing their customer’s to do exactly that possibly going to remedy things? If I can’t buy my e-book through their online store or a hardcopy through their physical stores, I’m not going to purchase something else, instead. Rather, I’m going to go to Amazon for the e-book and to Chapters for the hardcopy.

In fact, that’s literally what I’m going to do. The Apple iPad still looks like the best tablet out there, but they start at $499. This made me cave and decide to go with either the NOOK or a Kindle Fire. As Barnes And Noble is forcing me to deal with Amazon for my e-books, and as the Kindle Fire costs less than half the price of the cheapest iPad, I will not be going with the NOOK. Congratulations Barnes And Noble: DC made an ass out of themselves with their idiotic mistake, but you managed to out-stupid them with your own.


The above links all direct you to the American Amazon site. Canadians can get an get an iPad 2 by clicking here. All Kindle products can only be purchased through their American site, but they ship to Canada.

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