Starting in September, Marvel will have a new distributor to the book trade, Hachette. Marvel was previously distributed by Diamond Book Distributors; Diamond Comics Distributors will continue to distribute Marvel periodicals and books to the comic shop market.
Since Marvel was acquired by Disney there had been much speculation that they would leave DBD; however, many expected Marvel to go with HarperCollins, distributor of Disney’s various imprints, including Disney Book Group and Hyperion. (Disney was previously distributed by Hachette, ironically.) Hachette is home to Yen Press, Little Brown, Grand Central, and is one of the biggest distributors to the book trade.
“Teaming with Hachette allows us to even more aggressively grow our presence in the book market, exposing new readers to Marvel’s great library of characters and stories. With Hachette’s overwhelming success in the book market, we can’t imagine a better partner as Marvel looks to expand its presence in the book market” said Marvel SVP of sales and circulation David Gabriel, in a statement.
Ken Michaels, Hachette COO said “We’re thrilled to be partnering with Marvel. Hachette’s world-class distribution and broad sales reach, combined with Marvel’s outstanding brand and product line, is sure to be a powerful combination.”
With their huge library of world-famous characters, and strong catalog of comics classic, Marvel is a feather in the cap of any book distributor. Marvel had been at DBD since 2005, and saw their book sales triple over a five year period.
Obviously, their loss could have a major repercussion on Diamond Book Distribution; however, DBD VP of Sales and Marketing Kuo-yu Liang says it will survive the loss with other strong products. “Obviously this is a big loss and we are losing our biggest client, but DBD is still going to be very strong,” he told The Beat. “We still have 50 clients, and recently resigned contracts with Image and IDW. There is no plan to cut back. Even without Marvel, we’re going to have a very strong list.” He mentioned Oni’s SCOTT PILGRIM and THE WALKING DEAD at Image as series that are poised for big years due to media tie-ins.
While he wouldn’t comment on the time frame of the announcement, Liang noted that “I would say we were definitely prepared for it. We are prepared for many different contingencies. DBD losing Marvel is a big loss, obviously. But without Marvel I still expect DBD sales to be up because we have such a strong list for other clients.”
UPDATE: Marvel has made its own release on the move, which includes news that they have extended their agreement with Diamond Comics Distributors for the direct market:
Additionally, Marvel will extend its relationship with Diamond, continuing its commitment to comic shops worldwide. Gabriel explained, “Diamond Book Distributors has been very instrumental in the growth of our graphic novel business, nearly tripling our sales in the book market over the last five years, and we thank them for their efforts. The decision to switch book market distributors was a very difficult one but as evidenced by the extension of our Direct Market agreement, our working relationship with Diamond remains very close. We remain extremely appreciative of our Direct Market retailers and continue to grow that vital market.”
Contacted by the Beat, Marvel referred to the statement and declined further comment at this time.
Sources have confirmed that the move had been in the works before the recent “Amazon Glitch,” which saw DBD client books erroneously offered for sale on Amazon at greatly reduced prices.
Obviously, Marvel’s bookstores moves will be watched very closely, and discussed widely. We’ll update the story throughout the week.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.