Two Pissing Giants

I’m definitely annoyed with some of the players in today’s book market… more importantly, today’s maturing ebook market. And, sadly, that has taken me out of the ebook market until another player arrives to challenge the incumbents.

I’m talking about Barnes & Noble versus DC here, and the current “pissing match” over DC’s exclusive deal with Amazon for 100 of their titles to be released digitally. To which B&N responded, “well, fine, we won’t carry those until we get them in digital release in our store as well.”

Now, I recognize that, as a business, they are free to carry – or not carry – whatever they deem fit or unfit, as the case may be. However, the reasons for it – that it’s bad for the customer that they can’t sell it in all available forms – are secondary to the fact that Barnes & Noble has chosen to exclude content outright, and thus are hurting the customer anyway. This combines with the fact that they’re pretty much the only big player left in town in terms of being specifically about books, to make me feel pretty nauseous. Because they’re essentially saying to DC, “yeah, you won’t let us carry the digital, we won’t carry the physical now, watch your sales plummet.” Since the only other market is to walk into comic stores, and if you’re trying to do a quick shop for a graphic novel for Sally’s geeky interests, with no interest yourself, you’re going to go to the big store.

I will admit, until this news came across my browser, the Nook was looking pretty good in my eyes, to the point that I was seriously considering buying one soon. That decision has changed. And I’m accelerating my program to buy 100% of my books from a handful of local shops, that I’m lucky enough to have in this metropolitan area. Many communities aren’t this lucky, it’s Barnes & Noble or online ordering.

This, however, does not give DC a free pass. Having an exclusive deal with Amazon is, well, exclusionary to the point of absurdity, regardless of the retailer’s size. I’ve not been a fan of “exclusively through/in/on” with regards to content. It is an artificial division of the market into “haves” and “have nots”… whether it be for toys (TMEGA MOVIE TIE IN TOY HAZARD ORANGE COLOR EXCLUSIVELY AT TARGET!), games (exclusively on Gamestation), and even now video content (DVD versus Bluray and the special features for the movie). It basically says you have to join a specific community to get the benefits, in this case to boost sales of Amazon’s Kindle Fire. This is regardless of any other costs or justifications. I don’t even care for it all that much in terms of gaming consoles. In fact, I remember back in the golden age of gaming, when Atari, Coleco and Mattel not only made games for their own systems… but they all made games for the competitor’s systems. I don’t think there’s much more than a business excuse for them to be doing that now. Shall I stop buying DC content in response? Well, to be fair, I’d need to have been buying from them much more regularly than I have been to be doing that, really.

Overall… do both sides have the right to do what they’ve been doing? Absolutely. Does it make it RIGHT, from a customer perspective. Oh, absolutely, completely, utterly NOT. Both sides have been involved in some form of pissing match, and everyone’s losing something in the resulting fight. Especially the customers.

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About jferio

A geek, known to create massive bursts of hard geek radiation.
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