The following is Marvel's official statement in response to the questions concerning the Barnes & Noble Marvel Masterworks editions... (see 'Barnes & Noble To Publish Masterworks TPB's')
It is true that Barnes & Noble is publishing five Marvel Masterwork editions in paperback format. This is an exclusive product that will not be available to other customers for several years. B&N is supporting this product in its stores, putting Graphic Novels in front of new readers in a way only the #1 retailer of books in the United States can.
While we understand some Direct Market retailers might also like the opportunity to also sell the paperback version, we would hope that they understand that this is a proprietary project for B&N, and that there were no plans to produce a paperback version here at Marvel prior to this initiative.
Quite to the contrary, Marvel envisions it's full, long-term Masterworks format to continue to be a series of premium hardcovers, showing these classic stories in the highest quality format. In fact, this is why we have made the significant investment in time and cost to reprint -- and in some cases completely remaster -- the entire 32-volume Marvel Masterworks library in sufficient quantities to keep all editions in print for the next several years, and to make variant dustjackets reflecting past editions available.
We were looking at an incredibly expensive and time-consuming project with a significant risk of financial failure -- until Barnes & Noble agreed to purchase a sufficient quantity of the softcover edition to make the project work financially.'