Barnes & Noble Books, the publishing arm of the largest book retail chain in the U.S., is publishing paperback editions of five volumes of the Marvel Masterworks series in April. Although Marvel did publish paperback versions of the first Spider-Man Masterworks Collection in 1992 and the first Avengers Masterworks in 1993, the series has otherwise remained in its pricey hardcover format at $49.95. The Barnes & Noble editions have a cover price of $12.95. The five Masterworks volumes that Barnes & Noble Books is publishing in April include the first volumes for Spider-Man, Daredevil, The Incredible Hulk, X-Men, and the Fantastic Four.
The Barnes & Noble editions of the Marvel Masterworks are not listed in the February edition of Diamond's Previews catalog -- which may indicate that these books are Barnes & Noble exclusives. Marvel did not respond to our inquiries prior to publication of this article.
According to The Street.com's analysis of Barnes & Noble's publishing plans, B&N will focus on 'high margin, low-cost areas of publishing...including reprints.' The Street goes on to mention one of the primary reasons behind B&N's move into publishing: 'Publishing its own books will give Barnes & Noble some exclusive product that other retailers, such as Borders, don't have.'
In his statements concerning the special Wal-Mart edition of Ultimate Spider-Man #1 Marvel COO Bill Jemas made it clear that no one channel will get all of Marvel's product (see 'At Least 6 Million Ultimate Spider-Man #1s in Print') saying, 'So, just like Wal-Mart and the mass market distributors didn't get Origin or the mainline Ultimate books, the direct market may have certain titles that are not going to be available there.'