B&N Retaliates After Kindle Gets 4-Month Exclusive On DC Graphic Novels

Kindle Fire owners (and anybody with a Kindle reading app) will be able to read bestselling graphic novels like Watchmen, Batman and V for Vendetta on their new devices, under the terms of a four-month exclusive deal DC Entertainment made with Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) last week. NookColor owners are left out–and Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) is getting even by yanking those titles from its shelves.

On September 29, DC Entertainment announced that it would release 100 of its graphic novels (with more to follow) in digital form for the first time exclusively on the Kindle Fire. While it wasn’t clear from the press release, the LA Times reports that Amazon only has exclusive rights to the titles for four months, starting on the Kindle Fire’s release date on November 15. Also, Amazon will make the titles available on Kindle apps for all devices, not just on the Kindle Fire.

Comic book industry blog Bleeding Cool reports today that Barnes & Noble e-mailed all of its employees yesterday and told them to remove all print copies of the books included in that exclusive from their shelves. “You will still be able to order the books on the website, but in bookstores you won’t even be able to special order a copy–unless you request it delivered to your home,” the site says. “Copies will not be allowed to enter Barnes & Noble premises.”

“We will not stock physical books in our stores if we are not offered the available digital format,” Barnes & Noble chief merchandising officer Jaime Carey said in a statement. “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 customers to make available any book, anywhere, anytime.” As mentioned by Bleeding Cool, customers can special-order the books and buy them online. When the four months and Amazon’s exclusive are up, Barnes & Noble will presumably carry the print titles again.

I went to my local Barnes & Noble this afternoon and found a DC comics shelf with big chunks of books missing. Mark Sample tweeted a picture of a Barnes & Noble employee removing DC titles from the shelves.

DC gave us its official statement:

Through this partnership with Amazon, DC Entertainment graphic novels will be downloadable on the new Kindle Fire, as well as other mobile and online devices – such as the iPad – through a Kindle app. DC Entertainment is excited by this business initiative with Amazon and expects fans to be amazed by the robust, intuitive comics reader experience Amazon has created for the Kindle Fire which showcases with extraordinary brilliance and clarity the incredible artwork and graphics DC Entertainment is known for.

Upon hearing news of the our digital distribution plans with Amazon, Barnes & Noble book stores notified DC Entertainment that they will be pulling the physical books of these graphic novels off all their store shelves.

We are disappointed that Barnes & Noble has made the decision to remove these books off their shelves and make them unavailable to their customers.

DC Entertainment will continue to make our content available to our fans and new readers through multiple distribution channels including locally-owned comic book retailers, independent bookstores, other bookstore chains and other widespread means such as online through Amazon and through our apps on iOS and select Android powered devices as well as new and exciting devices going forward.

As one of the largest book publishers in North America, DC Entertainment’s publishing strategy is to give our consumers the choice to read our stories in whichever format they prefer but we also know that nothing will ever take away from the joy and collectability of physical books, comics and graphic novels.