News: Marvel Comics/Barnes and Noble: Ultimate Partnership? posted May 14, 2004
May 14 -- Barnes and Noble has begun accepting advance orders on a 992-page hardcover collection of the popular and easier to access for new fans comic Ultimate Spider-Man in conjunction with the imminent release of the film Spider-Man 2. The new trade, to be called The Ultimate Spider-Man Collection and made possible by Barnes and Noble's financial sponsorship, will feature material most similarly available to comic shop consumers in three separate trades at $49.95, a savings of almost 40 percent off their cover price. In on-line avenues such as those sponsored by the business web site ICV2.com, a few direct market retailers have complained about the perceived lack of support by Marvel in providing exclusive material to non-comics shops. Other retailers have responded by pointing out the right for someone to pay for exclusive material and the potential for new customers reached through the book to find their way into local comic shops after reading the Barnes and Noble offering.
In 2003 Barnes and Noble helped publish softcover color editions of the Marvel Masterworks series as an exclusive for their stores. Marvel deflected criticism at the time by pointing out that the hardbacks continued to be a possibility only because the retailer was willing to finance the softcover editions.