Comics-and-More blogger Dave Ferraro, who works at a Barnes & Noble, remarked last week that the bookstore chain has moved comics from the Games section to the newsstand and greatly expanded the selection, from about 10 to about 60, mostly Marvel, DC, and Archie. Todd Allen spotted some in the wild (including a very non-mainstream comic), and Rich Johnston has another example.
I'm not sure this is as much of a novelty as people think: The Borders near me always had a large selection of comics on its newsstand—mostly Marvel, DC, and Archie—and while they were set off in a corner, they were very visible and the selection was good. Since my store is gone, along with hundreds of other Borders stores, B&N may simply be picking up on an unfilled niche.
Todd makes an interesting observation:
The Marvel titles were all marked “Newsstand” and priced $3.99, with the exception of Incredible Hulks. That one went for a massive $4.99. That means some $2.99 titles jacked up $1 for newsstand and some $3.99 titles staying steady. I have no immediate explanation for the Incredible Hulks price.
Dave notes that Barnes & Noble can't order specific issues, which is a much bigger deal than it used to be back when every Superman comic had three complete stories. The Barnes & Noble customer who picks up a Hulk comic will pay five bucks for a slice of story, with no clue as to how to get the previous issues and no guarantee of getting the next one. It's hard to see this catching on for comics with a lot of continuity, although it's a boon for serious fans who don't live near a comics shop.
Incidentally, Todd also spotted a staple of his childhood and mine, a three-pack, at Sam's Club. When I was a kid, these were obviously remainders and the comics were sort of random. As befits Sam's Club, the comics are much cheaper than regular retail, and they seem to have been printed specifically to go in a three-pack—i.e., not remainders. This one had Thor #1 in it; if Thor #2 pops up we may have a trend here.