And the times continue to be changing. At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Diamond Comics Distributors was the exclusive distribution outlet for all monthly comics and most book format products in the US. That has changed. The shutdown of distribution caused by the lockdowns last March exposed a single point of failure weakness in the distribution. Since then, DC Comics has left Diamond all together, and many smaller distributors have come up with different distribution plans.
Today Marvel Comics announced that they are going to be using Penguin Random House as their exclusive distributor. This adds a layer of abstraction between Diamond and Marvel. Diamond will continue to service the direct market comic shops as a wholesaler, but this allows for other wholesaler agreements as well as the possibility of direct distribution to the retail locations.
As always these decisions are financially driven. Publishers saw their revenue affected by the real world pandemic and are looking for the best ways to insulate themselves from that in the future.
You can read the full press release from Marvel below:
New York, NY – March 25, 2021 – Marvel Comics and Penguin Random House Publisher Services (PRHPS), a division of Penguin Random House, the renowned trade book publisher, today announced an exclusive worldwide multi-year sales and distribution agreement for Marvel’s newly published and backlist comic books, trade collections, and graphic novels to comics shops, known as the Direct Market. PRHPS officially begins its distribution to Direct Market retailers for all Marvel titles starting October 1.
Penguin Random House Publisher Services will begin Marvel’s Direct Market distribution this October. New Marvel comics will continue to be available on Wednesdays at comic shops everywhere.
After a thorough analysis of the market environment, Marvel has chosen PRHPS as its distribution partner to create a sustainable, productive supply chain and enhanced infrastructure for Marvel publications that will benefit comics retailers and fans alike for years to come. Penguin Random House is known for its state-of-the-art multi-ranging services that enable independent booksellers to increase efficiency and profitability.
“Marvel’s entire history is built on telling great stories. And as we’ve seen for decades, those stories go hand in hand with equipping the comic shops who share them. Marvel and Penguin Random House stand by that vision, and we are excited to build and expand those opportunities for our talent, retailers, and fans,” said Dan Buckley, President of Marvel Entertainment. “Comics are the core of the Marvel Universe, and we are confident this new partnership will continue to grow and evolve this resilient industry. We look forward to advancing our capabilities with PRHPS to serve our fans and the Direct Market. We thank Diamond for their many years of support and partnership as we continue our relationship with them in other areas.”
Penguin Random House has long been committed to physical retail in order to foster and grow their market. Independently owned brick-and-mortar bookstores are local community builders, advocates for books, and passionate influencers for the industry.
After seeing a double-digit percentage in closures of physical bookstores from 2001 to 2011, and notwithstanding an anticipated rise in e-books, PRH significantly extended and expanded its outreach to physical retail. Through its robust supply chain of rapid direct shipping, greater access to data, and premier customer service, PRH helped support healthier margins that led to a market turnaround. These past experiences and learnings will be invaluable when adapting for today’s physical retailers in the Direct Market.
“This is an exciting time for comics, and we’re thrilled to partner with Marvel in taking the next steps to support the growth of the marketplace, together with our Direct Market retail partners,” said Jeff Abraham, President of Penguin Random House Publisher Services. “Based on the foundation of our relationships with physical retailers, we’re confident in the significant growth of the comic book industry and welcome the opportunity to further collaborate with and invest PRHPS’ resources in the Direct Market. Combining the standard-setting supply chain and sales capabilities of PRH with Marvel’s renowned universe of stories and characters, we expect to reach even more fans of its artists and writers throughout the world.”
Penguin Random House is a free-freight company, allowing retailers to simplify their business models while alleviating the volatility and complexity of reducing freight costs and planning. Through many of PRH’s standard offerings, like its rapid replenishment program for graphic novels and advanced supply chain, Direct Market retailers will experience more flexibility to manage inventory and stock their stores to best serve their customers.
Direct Market retailers can choose to order Marvel products direct from PRH, or alternatively, through Diamond as a wholesaler under terms established by Diamond in the US and the UK. Hachette Book Group will continue to manage distribution of Marvel’s graphic novels and trade collections to the book market.
Marvel’s full print and online October Marvel Previews catalog and comic book solicits will be available in July and distributed by PRHPS to active accounts. All comic book and trade orders for titles going on sale this October should be made through PRHPS. Early solicit titles will be available for order starting on May 26. Retailers can open PRHPS accounts now to register for Marvel’s monthly title catalogs and solicits, which will continue to be available to retailers approximately three months ahead of on sale.
Marvel and PRHPS will be sharing more information with retailers in the coming weeks and months, and retailers will have an opportunity to learn more about PRHPS’s offerings and hear directly from Marvel and PRHPS leadership in the coming weeks.
Direct Market retailers can reach out to Penguin Random House for more information about their respective markets:
- US Retailers: firstname.lastname@example.org
- International Retailers: email@example.com
- Canadian Retailers: firstname.lastname@example.org