single comic booksI’ve seen several outlets reporting on the news that Marvel Comics has suspended their sales of single comic books to Chapters, Indigo and several US chains. These stores are still able to purchase graphic novels and other products, but not single-issue comic books.

So, what’s going on? A few things. Firstly, a senior Marvel executive was quoted in a released statement as saying that Marvel was working on “stronger, more mutually beneficial distribution model.” Might they be trying to develop their own digital platform, one that could tie into a store’s existing purchasing architecture in a way the more self-contained Comixology app does not?

Or might they we trying to phase out the single issue altogether in favour of the omnibus format they continue to offer? Michael Kozlowski, in his analysis linked above, offers an anecdotal observation that people in his local Indigo seem to pick up the comic books only to read them on the spot. Since you can finish one in under ten minutes, just standing there, there’s not much incentive to buy it…

I think this might be part of the larger shift in media consumption formats. Quick-read stuff gets read digitally (news, magazines, Kindle Shorts and so on) and more in-depth stuff gets released via multiple avenues. Perhaps they feel that people will only spend the money for paper if it’s a hefty tome.

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  1. According to the stories I saw elsewhere in my feed this morning, the comic book companies hardly sold any single-issue comics through the bookstores anyway—the people who want them badly enough to buy in person generally do so through their friendly local comics shop, and Marvel is continuing to supply those. (Also, comics sold through those stores can’t be returned for refund the way comics sold through bookstores can.)

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