Sunday, July 12, 2015

Barnes and Noble Still Hanging On, as Graphic Novels/Paper Comics Are Selling Well

Recently, the Barnes and Noble bookstore chain announced in a press release that it would expand its selection of Graphic Novels and Manga to double the size at all of its nationwide stores.   The company explained that the "expansion is due to strong customer demand and the growing popularity of these genres".  Furthermore, "Barnes & Noble says some of the best-selling graphic novels in its stores are Batman: The Killing Joke, Watchmen and Walking Dead Compendium, Volume 1."

Photo by S. A. di Nicolao (Creative Commons license)

This is definitely a good sign because it indicates that paper formats like graphic novels and paper comics are here to stay.  The paper medium of comics has widespread appeal compared to digital comics because of the collectibility of paper comics (just think of collecting comics in different conditions and think of the demand for variant covers), and also collectors appreciate the ability to touch printed comics.

One consultant suggests that this is also a good strategy "to reach out through stores to manga fans, who are largely female and under the age of 22, as they may be more comfortable going to a traditional bookstore rather than a comic-book store".

On the other side of the print/digital divide, Amazon's purchase of Comixology has made big waves in the industry, but it's safe to say that print comics are here to stay.  While digital comics may allow artists to present comic stories and comic book panels in new and interesting ways, print comics are still valued by fans for their collectibility and because a printed comic is actually owned by the buyer after its purchase.  Digital comics offered by Marvel and DC still have DRM (digital rights management) restrictions, such as the requirement to read the comic through an online account or smartphone app, so a purchase of a Marvel or DC comic does not confer ownership of a comic book to the buyer.  So, here's hoping that local comic book stores and Barnes and Noble stores can continue to make money by selling printed comics and graphic novels.