Author Topic: Diamond Distributors Shuts Down  (Read 241 times)

Online Emperorjones

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« Last Edit: March 27, 2020, 02:53:52 pm by Emperorjones »

Offline Battle

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Re: Diamond Distributors Shuts Down
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2020, 09:15:09 am »
Saturday, 4th April 2o2o
The Virus Outbreak Has Plunged the Comics World into Existential Chaos
by Asher Elbein

World War II couldn’t do it.

An industry crash in the 1990s couldn’t do it.

Now, for the first time in the history of the medium, monthly comics are grinding to a halt due to the novel Covid-19 pandemic.

Comics are largely sold through the direct market, moving from publisher to distributor to specialty comics retailers, as opposed to digital distribution or the newstands of yesteryear.

But last month, Diamond Comics Distributors—the monopoly that supplies monthly comics to retailers in the United States and Britain—announced that it was refusing to accept new product from comics’ largest publishers, including Marvel, DC, Image, and Boom Studios.

“Product distributed by Diamond and slated for an on-sale date of April 1st or later will not be shipped to retailers until further notice,” Diamond chairman and CEO Steve Geppi said in a statement.

“Our freight networks are feeling the strain and are already experiencing delays, while our distribution centers in New York, California, and Pennsylvania were all closed late last week,” Geppi’s statement continued.

“Our own home office in Maryland instituted a work from home policy, and experts say that we can expect further closures. Therefore, my only logical conclusion is to cease the distribution of new weekly product until there is greater clarity on the progress made toward stemming the spread of this disease.”

Now local comic book shops and independent publishers face an unprecedented existential threat.

Diamond’s announcement—which came partially as a result of the shutdown of Canada’s Transcontinental Printers, which handles orders from Marvel and DC—is the latest bout of confusion to hit the industry amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many comics shops have been forced to temporarily close their doors to comply with shelter-in-place decrees, shifting where possible to online orders and curbside pickup.

Free Comic Book Day, an annual May event designed to drive foot-traffic to realtors, was postponed on March 18th.

Publishers like Image Comics announced that they were making new comics returnable, rather than forcing retailers to eat any overstock; Marvel offered a discount.

Now, as a direct result of the suspension, IDW Publishing, which publishes licensed comics like Transformers, is suspending all of its May releases, and will reduce its overall publishing line through July.

“Trimming our line through the summer in support of the Direct Market retailers will undoubtedly impact creative workflow for the short term,” IDW’s president, Chris Ryall, said in a statement.

“We fully appreciate the difficulty that this presents to freelancers. It’s our expectation that—in the long term—the Direct Market will bounce back as a result of these steps, and we can all continue the good work of making quality comics on the other side.”

Companies like DC Comics, meanwhile, apparently plan to power through.

While Diamond has exclusive distribution rights to physical issues of DC and Marvel comics, DC has announced plans to pursue a “multi-distributor model to provide us with the flexibility needed during this crisis.”

Since DC’s printer is shut down due to the epidemic, that would seemingly necessitate new printers and new distributors for single issues.

(DC did not return requests for comment by The Daily Beast.)

Initially, DC indicated that they were moving forward with digital publishing plans, despite retailer fears that digital releases through platforms like Comixology could potentially cut them out of the market.

Later, the company back-tracked and removed shipping dates from new issues of comics like Batman on Comixology.

(The company will still be releasing digital editions of trade paperbacks, reprints, and previously-announced digital-first exclusives.)

Marvel Comics also announced on Tuesday that it would not be releasing digital comics, but alluded to finding alternate distribution or resuming digital distribution in the future.

DC’s abortive move toward digital distribution had infuriated comics retailers like Brian Hibbs, owner of San Francisco-based store Comix Experience, and writer of Tilting at Windmills, an industry column.
Writing in a public Fakebook post, he blasted the company for “encouraging retailers to violate stay-at-home orders and risk their health for corporate profits,” and called the company’s move toward digital “a dire mistake...I have never been more been more emphatically disheartened and disappointed by a so-called ‘partner.’”

The feelings of betrayal are notable partly because corporate comics is an exceedingly small world, built around the relationships between direct market retailers and a handful of publishing companies.

Somewhat ironically, the industry’s reliance on the Diamond Distribution monopoly is itself—as comics reporter Graeme McMillen writes over at The Hollywood Reporter—largely corporate superhero comics’ fault.

In 1994, amid a massive industry boom driven largely by collector speculation, Marvel purchased Heroes World, then the third-largest comics distributor in the country, with the aim of making it their exclusive distribution channel.

The move caused nearly every other comics company to sign exclusive contracts with Diamond, effectively undercutting other distributors.

The finishing blow came during the 1990s industry collapse, when most distributors stopped being able to pay publishers as the comics shops they supplied went under.

Heroes World, unable to effectively handle shipping logistics, went out of business when Marvel declared bankruptcy in 1997, leaving Diamond the sole distributor remaining in the wreckage of a drastically shrunken industry.

The direct market, which was in many ways buoyed by the 1990s, has also never really recovered from them.

Local comics shops are in a particularly fraught position because—as with a lot of specialty retailers—the margins are razor thin, and serialized comics are, despite the success of their film adaptations, a niche interest.

While stores are able to stock graphic novels and trade paperbacks through booksellers, the weekly influx of customers every Wednesday, when new comics are released remains a cornerstone of the direct market.

“The fear is that the majority of comic shops are under-capitalized,” Hibbs told The Daily Beast.

“Probably the overwhelming majority of comic shops are owned by guys like me, who are 50 or older. If someone doesn’t step up—whether that’s distributors and publishers or creators and fans—I think your average typical comic shop is not sure how they’re gonna survive.”

The best move for comics fans, Hibbs said, is to contact and support their local stores.

“Tell them the comics you want in the future. Preorder comics from your local store. And check with your local store to see if they’re running a mail order so you can buy graphic novels from home.” 

“Ultimately, this pandemic has revealed a lot of the weak infrastructure holding up this country, and the comic business is no exception,” said Tim Seeley, writer of comics Hack/Slash, DC’s Nightwing, and artist on multiple G.I Joe comics.

“Having just one distributor for all stores, stores having to exist on thin margins, and over-reliance on just a few publishers and high-priced variant covers are all factors now coming back to bite everyone in the butt.”

The hits keep coming:

Diamond announced that they are putting a hold on previously-scheduled payments to comics companies and toy merchandisers, due to “no longer receiving consistent payment from our customers,” i.e comics retailers, mail-order services, bookstores, and other outlets.

(As in the 1990s, the move is likely to be a major blow to independent comics publishers.)

And as this article went to press, comic store software management company ComicHub is trying to roll out a tool that will allow customers to pay and pre-order comic books from their local store, read them digitally on the ComicHub app, and then receive them later in print.

Opinions are split as to whether this constitutes a reasonable way forward for stores and creators, a corporate fig leaf for the feared transition to digital, or whether the plan is even going to logistically work.

For now, the arguments roil on, the flow of new monthly comics has ground to a halt, and there’s no clear end in sight.

Chaos reigns.

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« Last Edit: April 04, 2020, 09:16:57 am by Battle »

Offline Battle

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Re: Diamond Distributors Shuts Down
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2020, 01:26:40 pm »
Friday, 5th June 2o2o
dc Cuts Ties with Diamond Comic Distributors
by Graeme McMillan

In a seismic shift for the comic book industry, DC has cut ties with Diamond Comic Distributors.

The announcement was made via an email to retailers sent Friday morning, with the company telling customers that all orders for DC product will be fulfilled by Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors for periodical releases and Penguin Random House for graphic novels and collected editions.

An email sent to retailers explained,

“We recognize that, to many of you, this may seem like a momentous decision. However, we can assure you that this change in DC's distribution plans has not been made lightly and follows a long period of thought and consideration. The change of direction is in line with DC's overall strategic vision intended to improve the health of, and strengthen, the Direct Market as well as grow the number of fans who read comics worldwide.”

The message continued,

“In the near term, Diamond will only be fulfilling orders placed through June 1 Final Order Cut-Off and will not solicit the sale of new DC titles further. To ensure a smooth transition for retailers, DC will suspend Final Order Cut-Off for June 8, making those books available to order on Final Order Cut-Off on June 15th.”

A spokesperson from DC told The Hollywood Reporter,

“After 25 years, DC and Diamond Comic Distributors are ending their long-standing relationship. Moving forward, comic book retailers can obtain their DC books from Penguin Random House, or their books and periodicals through Lunar or UCS comic book distributors. DC continues to be committed to providing the Direct Market with best in class service and the fans with the world’s greatest comic books.”

DC’s periodical product had, until earlier this year, been exclusively distributed by Diamond Comic Distributors, which holds a virtual monopoly on comic book distribution in the North American market.

Following Diamond’s decision to close down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March, followed by Diamond announcing that it would withhold payment to publishers, citing cash flow problems, DC announced plans to find alternative distribution.

The company eventually settled on two newly created companies — Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors — to handle periodical distribution while Diamond was closed.

All parties involved, including DC and Diamond, publicly stated that DC would continue to release product through Diamond when the latter resumed distribution in late May.

DC parting ways with Diamond means that the latter loses the second biggest publisher in the North American market, responsible for roughly 30 percent of the entire market in 2019.

It’s a significant blow to the distribution company as it re-opens after two months, especially with publishers across the line significantly pulling back on releases in the wake of virus closures and furloughs of their own.

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