Doomsday for the comic book industry has finally been brought about by the proliferation of digital comics, and it begins, as everyone predicted, with the death of the the big chain retail... wait, what?
Good eReader is reporting that giant book retailers Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million have both stopped selling Marvel Comics, at least in floppy form. The story has been developing all weekend, with sources inside a New York City Barnes & Noble reporting the decision to no longer stock Marvel comics to Bleeding Cool. Good eReader confirmed these reports as well, and also heard directly from "contacts" at the main office of Books-A-Million that Marvel chapbooks are no longer on the menu there. But here's the strange part - the decision is apparently Marvel's, not the retailers'.
It's a strange turn of events. Good eReader speculates that it has something to do with plans Marvel has to develop their own digital distribution strategy and drop comiXology. It's an interesting theory, but what does that have to do with Barnes & Noble and its ilk? Is it meant to appease direct market retailers, to calm fears of digital doom in the wake of their digipocaypse and let them know where Marvel's loyalty lies? That may sound far-fetched, but it's not like Marvel has no reason to fear retaliation for a digital push.
Of course, that's all speculation (though very interesting speculation), and we're not familiar enough with the site to know how much of what they say is bullshit. That's not a slight at them - we honestly don't know, and in the modern journalistic climate, you can't trust anyone. For instance, with Bleeding Cool, we know how reliable they are because every time Rich Johnston gets something right, he lets us know at every opportunity in future articles. So we believe Marvel is pulling single issues out of book retailers. We're not sure about Good eReader's digital conspiracy theory though. As they admit, it could also be a simple matter of profitability for Marvel, which has to accept returns of unsold books ordered by big retailers, unlike with the direct market, where once they trick them into buying 1000 copies of that foil-embossed super rare 3D issue #0 cover, they're pretty much stuck with it.
More details will probably be revealed, and we'll keep you posted.
Now we shall steal the article image that both Bleeding Cool and Good eReader used for their stories (our guess: the latter stole it from the former), because in this post-digital-apocalyptic world, there are no rules.