Following on the heels of this weekend's rumors that Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million stores will no longer carry single-issue Marvel Comics effective 2014, one of the retailers has confirmed that not only is it true, but that it was a Marvel decision.
Barnes & Noble reportedly told ICv2 that "Marvel has made the decision to pull its periodical comics from major retailers, including Barnes & Noble; it was not a B&N decision."
The decision will not affect graphic novels, at least at Barnes & Noble, though earlier reports suggested that Books-A-Million's graphic novel selection will be impacted. The effect on digital sales is unknown, although it's unlikely to have an immediate one since Marvel did not participate in Barnes & Noble's NookComics
The site, which follows the financial side of the comics industry, noted that while the actual dollar value of the sales was likely not significant for either Marvel or the chains, it was a visibility boon for each of them, with the bookstores being able to boast a more varied Marvel product line and Marvel getting single-issue comics in front of people who wouldn't ordinarily see them.
It's interesting to note that Barnes & Noble terms the decision as applying to "major retailers." Whether this affects places like Toys R Us and the grocery store market is a question we're looking into now. One mid-sized grocery chain in my area carries comics, but has scaled back significantly in recent months and now I wonder whether it's because they don't have Marvel product to stock. While most grocery stores, toy stores and other specialty retailers like Hot Topic and F.Y.E. don't carry a large selection of comics, they frequently have a small display somewhere in the store, and as with the bookstore market, that could be a potential new audience segment that Marvel would lose access to with such a decision; that of course begs the question of whether they were losing a lot of money on the newsstand comics, or just have a new plan in place they think will be better.