Marvel has officially acknowledged the suspension of single issue comic sales to major bookstores in the USA. Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million have verified with Good e-Reader that they are unable to order anything other than graphic novels. Today, Chapters and Indigo Books, the largest bookstore chain in Canada, has verified they will no longer carry single issue comic books published by Marvel. Most Chapters Bookstore locations have taken down their entire comic rack in the last three months, and don’t sell single issue comics at all anymore.
Marvel provided CBR News with the following statement from Senior VP of Sales David Gabriel: “The overwhelming majority of print readers get their monthly comics from direct market locations (i.e. brick and mortar comic shops). There’s no denying that the direct market is a much stronger business model for monthly single issues than newsstand distribution. This has been the case for some time. New single issues haven’t been available in the overall newsstand market for nearly two years now and in book stores for at least three months without notice. We’re currently working with Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million on a stronger, more mutually beneficial distribution model. And to be clear, this in no way affects sales of graphic novels in either chain which have continued, as many have pointed out, on an uphill trend in the past year!”
Graphic Novels by Marvel are still being sold and ordered by Chapters and Indigo Books. This is primarily due to the fact that they are sourced by Hachette and often carry a higher price tag. This insures that the publisher, store and Marvel all get a bigger piece of the pie.
Indigo would not speculate on the reasons why comic sales have tapered off or why Marvel would suspend their relationship with them over single comic sales. I visit Chapters bookstores at least once a week to buy magazines or books. The only people I see with single issue comic books are reading them in the store and not actually buying them. You can easily breeze through an issue in under ten minutes. This could be the wider trend of diminishing comic book sales and a high return rate.
Many avid comic book readers have stopped buying their single issues at bookstores or grocery stores. Most have switched to a pure digital format and do business with companies like ComiXology. The company has grown significantly and recently has celebrated their 200 million download milestone.
What does the future hold for Marvel Comic Books in bookstores? Marvel is working on their own in-house digital distribution system and phasing out their current partner ComiXology. Likely, Marvel will be developing a platform to stock online bookstores with single issue comic books. This means that Barnes and Noble and other chains with deep online ecosystems will be able to stock other comic content, other than just graphic novels.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.