Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million have confirmed to Good e-Reader that they have stopped carrying single issues of Marvel Comics. You might still find single issues at some of the smaller stores or in more rural areas, but it has been mandated that stores cannot order new issues.
Barnes and Noble has a flagship store in Union Square, in New York City. This is the location where they tend to have unveiling events for the Nook product line. Two sources at this store have confirmed that they will no longer sell single issue Marvel Comics. An official Barnes and Noble spokesman has also confirmed that they will continue to sell graphic novels and trade paperback editions of Marvel properties, because they are sourced through Hachette. Customers will still be able to purchase single issues produced by DC and Dark Horse.
Books-A-Million has also confirmed that they are no longer carrying Marvel titles at the head office. Contacts within the receiving and ordering departments have said that Marvel titles are simply not available on their lists anymore. They are basically unable to order single issues comics at all.
It is very interesting that exactly at the same time BOM and B&N both have stopped carrying single issues of Marvel Comics. This decision is not from the bookstores themselves, but has come directly from Marvel. The big question is why? I can’t remember a time when the entire Marvel universe was more popular than it is now. Perhaps this could have something to do with Marvel developing their own digital distribution platform and intend to phase out Comixology.
When it comes down to it, many comic lovers tend to buy their single issues directly from dedicated comic stores and not your average bookstore. Your local comic shop often has a wider selection and a copious amount of back issues. Barnes and Noble, and many other bookstores often have an elevated rate of comic returns to the publisher every month and likely Marvel said “enough is enough.”
Marvel has not responded to many requests for an interview or to give us a definitive reason why they have suspended single issue comics across the entire retail trade.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.