When last we discussed what was going on with Diamond and Books A Million (BAM), it wasn’t entirely clear what was going on, other than there were comics on sale and they were coming from Diamond, bagged & boarded. Interestingly, _nobody_ wanted to comment about their monthly comics being available at BAM. Diamond would not give a written confirmation this was happening, although I got a verbal confirmation that BAM was a customer and the books were not returnable.
How often do publishers NOT want to tell you where you can buy their books? Or a retail chain doesn’t want to tell you what they carry?
I did eventually get some information from that most notorious of informants, “the unnamed source.” As usual, “unnamed” was in a position to clarify what was going on. There are apparently around 70 BAM-owned stores getting shipments from Diamond. All 23 of the “2nd & Charles” used book chain owned by BAM and 40-ish BAM stores. This apparently started back around August, so it appears to be a rollout with my local store only coming online in December.
My source says 25-30 titles are being ordered and that lines up with what I’ve seen in person. Most of the comics in the store near me appear to have 3 copies at most and as it goes into the second month of stocking the DM titles, there are multiple issues of some titles on the rack. It’s a mix of Marvel, Image and IDW. Heavier on the Marvel, if all the stores stock the same.
Now, going back to 2nd & Charles, I was informed that they were doing pull lists. I called one up. Sure enough, they had pull lists. And I didn’t have to explain what a pull list was, either, which is interesting, since I’d consider that a DM-centric term. I also asked if they could special order a comic? The response was that they could make a request, but it wouldn’t necessarily get filled. In contrast, I asked the local BAM if they could place a special order for me and they said they only got what the distributor sent them.
I surmise from those responses that the ordering for BAM is still fairly centralized, which would make a certain amount of sense if it isn’t completely rolled out and/or is still in a pilot stage. (BAM didn’t return phone calls or emails on the topic.)
I also see BAM has their very own Star Wars #1 variant cover, so they’re being a fairly active participant in stocking Marvel. Looked like a 10 copy order for my local, much heavier than anything else.
So, 250 BAM stores at 3 copies per title = 750 copies for anything they carry at such a time as it becomes a full rollout. Maybe they order heavier on some things, maybe they don’t. At what point the stores get the authority/ability to place special orders with Diamond is a very interesting question, since there’s no reason someone with an account shouldn’t be able to do so.
It may or may not be a coincidence that Dark Horse has disappeared off the newsstand at both BAM and Barnes & Noble in my area. I’m waiting to see if Dark Horse turns up bagged & boarded at BAM.
I’m also waiting to see if Marvel, Image and IDW turn up at Barnes & Noble. That’s pure speculation, but Hastings has a relationship with Diamond. BAM has a relationship with Diamond. I can’t imagine Diamond not trying to get some product placement on the Barnes & Noble newsstand.
The number of Direct Market comic shops is thought to be around 2600. Adding in 250 BAMs bumps it around 9%, even if it’s a limited selection. Barnes & Noble would be more like 750 locations. We’ll see if it happens, but Diamond’s reach is getting wider with BAM and more places to buy is a good thing for anybody whose title gets picked up, although I suspect that DM retailers are not going to be particularly happy about this development.
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.