Russ Toney of  C&C Comics in St. Albans, West Virginia comments on the recent news of two major booksellers pulling the top selling DC graphic novels from their shelves (see "B&N to DC--It's On!" and "Books-a-Million Joins Boycott of DC GNs") and had this to say.
I have mixed feelings about Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million deciding to boycott DC Comics and return the top 100 trades because of the exclusive deal with Amazon.  I can see their point about unfair policies in giving Amazon special deals.  Returning the trades may indeed make someone stop and think about the deal, I say "may" because in the past several years the publishers seem to listen less and less to their customers--the retailers.

My first reaction was "Welcome to Our World."  We the comic retailers have for years suffered by the unfair policy that is given to Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.  At least they can return the trade paperbacks when they feel that they are not being treated fairly.  We the comic book retailers cannot return the trades.  If the trades do not sell then we are stuck with them, plain and simple.  Take Neil Gaiman's Sandman Vol. 1 for example.  The actual trade (not the download version), the trade paperback has a suggested price of $19.99 and if you order it online the costs are: Barns & Noble $13.65 (free shipping); Amazon $13.59 (free shipping); and Book-A-Million $13.18 (free shipping with $25 purchase).  As a comic retailer when we order from Diamond, the rates vary depending on our discount level.  But using an average 50% discount, the trade cost us $10.00 plus shipping.  To meet the lost cost of the three we would make only $3.18, of which we have shipping cost.  And as all retailers know we have other expenses as well such as payroll, rent, insurance, utilities and such.

Thus I find myself agreeing with Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million in returning the books for the unfair deal.  But they are big chains and companies and can afford to make this move.  We as comic retailers are thousands of independent stores with no one voice and no real power to make a move that will open publisher's eyes.  Big chains like these three can make the move and they can demand terms.  We comic retailers have terms dictated to by the publishers and Diamond.

When the direct market started it was a different time.  Comic sales were sliding.  The corner drug store, grocery store and other places stopped stocking comic books.  All will agree that the Direct Market comic book shops saved the comic book industry.  We were given better discounts, but the comics could not be returned.  Also, we got the comics early by a month at first.

Today we deal with same day download of the comic book and still cannot return the unsold comics.  DC makes a special deal with Amazon for the Kindle Fire and Barns & Noble can return them.  Book-A-Million can return them.  And still, we the comic retailer cannot.  So when the two chains say they are not being treated fairly, I say, "Welcome to Our World."

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of