Giving Amazon an exclusive deal landed DC in the middle of a digital device war, but the comic book publisher is finally revealing the benefits of the controversial agreement.
Beginning today, Amazon will begin marketing DC comic collections and graphic novels on its website — to both print and digital customers— through a dedicated storefront. Among the books being showcased are the 100 graphic novels that are offered exclusively for the new Kindle Fire, although DC announced that those books would "soon" be available to other Amazon digital customers.
Amazon will also begin an extensive email campaign to showcase the new storefront to their customers, a DC spokesperson told Newsarama.
"It exposes all our new material to 144 million Amazon customers," DC's Senior Vice President of Digital Hank Kanalz told Newsarama. "They've built a store for us. We're on their commercials. We're in their collateral material. It kind of blows the doors wide open."
It's a positive development in what had previously caused some trouble for DC. After the comic book publisher announced that it would offer the 100 books exclusively on Amazon's new tablet, both Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million pulled physical copies of the books off their shelves. Then last week, Barnes & Noble and Marvel Comics announced that DC's competitor would offer its books on the bookstore's new Nook tablet.
Kanalz told Newsarama this digital storefront and Amazon marketing campaign are the first of many positive side effects to the exclusive Kindle Fire deal. "You're going to start to see, this week, many of the benefits of going with Amazon in the fashion that we did," the executive said. "It's not like we turned over everything to them. We selected a hundred titles. And you're going to be hard-pressed to get the kind of exposure that Amazon provides.
"Our decision has nothing to do with any sort of device war," he added. "It has nothing to do with a favoritism of one retailer over another. It was the right deal at the right place at the right time with the right partner. And they've been terrific partners."
But Kanalz quickly added that DC will be extending its partnerships with many other retailers. "You mentioned Barnes & Noble, but there are obviously, many, many other partners other than just Barnes & Noble," he said.
Even the official DC press release about the storefront included a quote from DC Co-Publisher Jim Lee that made it clear that Amazon is not the only retailer the company is approaching for digital distribution. "We look forward to even more digital graphic-novel distribution deals, but are delighted with this first collaboration and developing it further," Lee said in the release.
The exclusive Amazon deal has also surprised many existing periodical customers who buy monthly DC Comics digitally — via comiXology on Apple OS and Android — and on the DCcomics.com website. Why aren't collections offered to those customers?
"There might be something brewing in that area," Kanalz said, hinting that collections and graphic novels will be available to other digital customers eventually. "It's not hype when I say we're just getting started. We really are just getting started. This is such a new frontier for us as a company, and we can't do everything instantly, overnight. It's a slow, planned process."
For now, DC honoring its exclusive deal with Amazon by putting attention onto the Kindle Fire, which Kanalz called "smaller, lighter, and easier for me to type on, with incredible resolution. The colors look fantastic on the device."
The publisher also worked with Amazon to develop the "Comic Reader" technology that guides a reader through the panels on DC's graphic novels.
"What we've done is a very easy interface right now," he said. "You can read the comic book as is, because a lot of people prefer that size for their comic. It's about the size of a digest, and people can read the page full screen on a Fire without much of a problem," he said. "But you can also do a double-tap and it pops up the panel. Then a very easy right-to-left swipe, like a page turn, leads you from panel to panel on the actual screen."
Kanalz said the DC storefront will evolve as both Amazon and the publisher see the results of customer activity. "As we see what works and what doesn't in the store, it's going to enable to aggregate one-stop-shopping for the new fan and the super-fans combined," Kanalz said.
The 100 graphic novels available on the Kindle Fire include titles like Watchmen, Fables, Sandman, V for Vendetta, Batman: Year One, Kingdom Come, Identity Crisis, All Star Superman, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, and Y: The Last Man.