As reported last week, Diamond will now require bar codes on all the products it carries — a concession to the looming reality of POS systems and barcode scanners. A couple of publishers talked about it on their blogs and speculate that it will lead to even more fragmentation of the industry:
Simon at Icarus points out that it isn’t as simple as it sounds.
I don’t think Diamond in introducing this rule is intentionally whittling down the number of vendors, but there is no doubt this is yet another headache for the many already cash-strapped indy and self publishers. Yet for those who are able to surmount the additional cost (and I think most will), the advantages of an automated system for ordering will work to their benefit; books that retailers would have forgotten otherwise will now have their own trackable sales history.
Elin Winkler of Radio Comix was taken by surprise by the announcement and explains it’s more expensive than you might think:
This will be an unexpected expense (from what I read, a non-refundable $750 registration fee, plus $150 per year renewal), but at least I keep track of news online and found out now, instead of oh, say, January. So, we have some time to start saving up for this. Considering we were also saving up $750 for a ViSA registration for the adult site (NSFW!), that puts us at $1500 we are trying to save up. I could print an issue of Genus for that kind of money.
But, you gotta do what you gotta do. I’m actually more irked that we’ll have to have a big ugly barcode space on the front covers of all our comics. I also worry for publishers who are smaller than us, who will not have the finances or ability to jump through this hoop. I foresee a return to small press comics that are sold more like fanzines, or sold online, bypassing Diamond completely. Which means, sort of how the undergrounds were before the direct market even existed. The comic industry always seems to cycle back to the past.
From where we sit, Winkler’s speculation isn’t that dire: micro publishers are probably better served by alternative means of distribution where they aren’t competing directly with CIVIL CRISIS. It also backs up the idea that the APE-MoCCA Art Fest – SPX circuit is creating a separate market for alternative/art comics, something we’ve been increasingly noticing.
Much more discussion in Winkler’s comment section.