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Marvel: B&N Ultimate Ultimate Spider-Man Collection
Posted 13/05/2004
Source Newsarama

[Image: Ult-SM_Collection.jpg]In a move that will continue Marvel’s relationship with Barnes & Noble, the bookstore chain will offer a “Limited Edition” collection of Ultimate Spider-Man - 992 pages, which will collect material that was previously only available in three separate collections. The kicker (read that both ways, depending on whether you’re a customer or a retailer) is the retail price: $49.95 or $34.96 online. Prior to the release of this collection, the cost of the separate hardcovers would have cost approximately $90, or $47 in softcover. Previously, Marvel had entered a publishing/packaging relationship with Barnes & Noble with its early Marvel Masterworks volumes in softcover – a format which comic retailers have been asking Marvel to provide to them for years. The softcover Masterworks, as with the upcoming Ultimate Spider-Man collection are Barnes & Noble exclusives, that is, not available to direct market retailers via Diamond.

As with the Masterworks news, several retailers are expressing a combination of dismay and anger at Marvel over the move with the bookseller, with retailers wondering how single volumes of the Ultimate Spider-Man hardcovers and soft covers will sell, now that customers and potential customers could pick up much more for less. “Here's another case of Marvel offering a bargain-priced product to other markets and bypassing us,” said Cliff Biggers of Dr. No’s Comics, Games & More in Marietta, GA. “I know, we've heard it before--Marvel isn't required to offer every product to us... But every time they work with other retailers to move customers from our market to other markets, it will have additional long-term ramifications. “I'm most disappointed to see this--particularly with a product like this. At almost a thousand pages - three hardcovers worth - for about the same price as what we're charging for one Ultimate Spidey hardcover, this is an incredible bargain... One that Marvel can afford to offer to B&N because we have amortized the setup cost for them via the sales of the hardcovers.”

As Newsarama reported when the previous Masterworks deal was announced: The Barnes & Noble collection won’t be the first time a comic publisher has licensed their material to a bookstore’s in-house publishing arm for publication – in the late ‘80s, DC did the same with the Longmeadow Press editions of The Complete Frank Miller Batman, and Stacked Deck: The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told: Expanded Edition (both designed by Dean Motter). Both were high-end leatherbound books sold exclusively through Walden Books, which owned Longmeadow. In that circumstance, both volumes were ultimately available to the direct market through distributors. From the Marvel side of the equation, the collection is a licensing deal, just as the Masterworks - Marvel most likely sold a one-time license to Barnes & Noble to collect and publish the collection, allowing B&N to print as many as they feel they could sell. Given the movie coming in July, the collection will get tremendous exposure at Barnes & Nobles across the country – including regions of the country that do not have a local comics shop. It could be argued that, as with the B&N Masterworks editions, thousands of more people will be exposed to comics in general. Additionally, the deal signifies, on B&N’s part, a high confidence in Marvel and Spider-Man, as well as a sense that there is an opportunity in this product specifically, and the graphic novel category, generally.

The hardcover is slated to be in B&N stores on May 24th.

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