An article in Publishers Weekly this week stirred up a major controversy in the comic book press, when it revealed that Marvel was planning to release full color, manga-size trade paperbacks of Sentinel, Mystique, and Runaways with price points of $7.99 or $8.99. According to PW, the books are coming out in November, though Marvel has yet to solicit the volumes to comic book shops through Diamond's Previews. Speculation ran rampant that Marvel was planning to offer these volumes exclusively to the book trade or perhaps even to one of the big book chains. ICv2 has learned from sources inside Marvel that the publisher has not yet finalized the publishing plans for these volumes and that retailers should wait for an announcement from Marvel before jumping to conclusions.
Much of the dire speculation about Marvel's motives is based on the 'exclusive' trade paperback editions of Marvel Masterworks published by Barnes & Noble (see 'Marvel on Barnes & Noble Masterworks'). Two important facts to remember about that situation are: (1) it was not a 'channel' exclusive -- only Barnes & Noble stores had the books; and (2) it involved only 7 of the 32 volumes of Marvel Masterworks, the rest of which remain comic shop exclusives.
A 'channel exclusive' for the Marvel Tsunami trades doesn't make much sense; perhaps it would for some of the shoujo manga titles from other publishers, which do 80-90% of their sales in the book trade, but full color titles with ties to the X-Men and Spider-Man lines certainly have potential in the comic shop market. Marvel released its Mary Jane prose novel, which was clearly aimed at female readers, to the comic shops, so it appears unlikely that the publisher will withhold the Tsunami trades from direct market stores, but let's wait and see before jumping to conclusions.