Dark Horse Gets Deal Done With Nook and Kobo Before Amazon

By Jeremy Greenfield, Editorial Director, Digital Book World, @JDGsaid

Getting a digital content distribution deal done with Barnes & Noble and Kobo might be easier than getting one done with Amazon.

Dark Horse Comics announced today that about 100 of its graphic novels now appear on the Nook tablet and Kobo’s Vox tablet. The novels don’t yet appear on the Kindle Fire; they have appeared on the iPad since last April.

“That’s a space [the Kindle Fire] that we’re really interested in moving toward,” said Matt Parkinson, senior vice president of marketing at Dark Horse. “In terms of formatting and contractually, we found that these spaces [Barnes & Noble and Kobo] were much easier to work through. We haven’t found a deal with Amazon that is completely suitable for us.”

Parkinson said that Dark Horse is very interested in its titles appearing on the Kindle Fire and that they will hopefully be there by the end of the year.

“It’s not an unwillingness,” he said. “It’s fine-tuning.”

Parkinson would not share the nature of the “fine-tuning.”

Dark Horse’s success with Apple and its standalone iOS app spurred it to expand its distribution.

“From what we’ve seen in terms of success in the iOS space, we felt that we could take that model and expand it more broadly,” said Parkinson.

Dark Horse, based in Milwaukee, Oreg., a suburb or Portland, Oreg., launched its iOS app in April 2011 with nearly 400 graphic novel titles. The company currently has an Android app in beta and will have a fully fleshed-out version in five-to-six weeks, said Parkinson.

Though Amazon does not share how many Fire tablets it has sold, but the Fire is widely thought to be the No. 2 tablet computer in the marketplace after the iPad. The Kindle store is also widely thought to have roughly two-thirds of e-book sales market share in the U.S., making it the leading e-bookstore. Barnes & Noble is thought to be No. 2 with 25% to 30% of market-share.

Dark Horse is not the first comic book publisher to wade into the e-book space. Marvel and DC Comics have both struck content deals. In November, when Barnes & Noble announced the Nook tablet, CEO William Lynch said that the device would have the “largest collection of Marvel graphic novels.”

Earlier, in October, DC Comics announced a deal with Amazon that would make its digital content exclusive to the Kindle Fire. Barnes & Noble responded by pulling certain DC titles from its bricks-and-mortar bookshelves.

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