So, I just had a long weekend. Very relaxing. Full of fun. But then I come back to the store--glibly optimistic in my ignorance--to find that Barnes and Noble pulled one hundred DC comic titles from their shelves in retaliation against Amazon's exclusive E-book rights. Curious.
To quote Jaime Carey--Barnes and Noble's chief merchandising officer--in a response made to the New York Times,
"In a few isolated instances, exclusive publisher deals have prohibited Barnes & Noble from selling certain e-books, preventing millions of our digital customers from access to those titles. To sell and promote the physical book in our store showrooms and not have the e-book available for sale would undermine our promise to Barnes & Noble customers to make available any book, anywhere, anytime."
Does this sound silly to anyone else? They are pulling titles from their shelves because having them would "... undermine [their] promise to Barnes & Noble customers to make available any book, anywhere, anytime?"
They are pulling books.
Because they want them to be available.
Maybe I'm just taking this personally. I am, after all, what some would call a 'nerd.' When I hear that titles like Watchmen and Sandman are being pulled from shelves in a snit fit over e-book rights, I can't help but lament the fact that someone, somewhere, won't have access to them.
And maybe it's just me, but it always seems like anytime big distributors or big publishers fight over copyrights, or e-book exclusivity, or who-wronged-who in the profit-wars, the fallout always hurts the readers the most.
I can understand wanting to protect your livelihood. In light of Borders' perilous decline, I can see how Barnes and Noble would try to do its best to protect its investments. I mean, we've all got to survive, right?
But at the same time, when is it too much? If a bookseller takes a book off the shelf because another book seller has it available at a lower price or in a different format, wouldn't we all be out of business? Isn't it enough just to have the book for people to read, whether they buy it or not? Whatever happened to coming into a store to browse?
Because, see, that's why I go into book stores. It's not always a desperate quest to find the exact title I'm looking for. For me, it's an exploration. A walk in the woods, so to speak, to see just what's out there. And if we cut down all the trees, what's left to explore?
(I feel like I should point out that we stock DC's titles, regardless of who has the e-book rights. Come check 'em out!)