Diamond Comics Distribution is often seen as a monopoly – but it isn’t. True, it has exclusives with DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, IDW, and so on….but there are many smaller publishers, indies and small presses, that aren’t Diamond exclusive to the direct market. And a new distribution player has thrown her hat into the ring, to handle books that Diamond isn’t nmble enough to handle.
Seattle-based Emerald City Distro. It’s the brain child of Anne Bean, a cartoonist herself and local comics scenester.
On the webpage she explains they are starting out small:
Phase One (March 2017) Puget Sound Consignment Management
A lot of Seattle area comic shops buy indie comics wholesale or on consignment. Hooray!
But do you know how much it costs to drive your comics around to sell them? Half a day and about $6.50 in gas and parking, assuming you’re an efficient parking wizard. And if you’re using public transit? The better part of eight hours and $10. Boo! Save time and money by paying a monthly service fee to Emerald.
Whether you have one title or ten, Emerald will bring your comic around to the Puget Sound area comic shops where it will sell best and get it on the shelves. Emerald won’t take a cut of your wholesale sales: all the money you make goes back to you. We’ll send you a monthly sales report and payment.
In an interview at Vanguard Seattle, Bean lays out more of her scheme, and the footwork:
Outsider Comics bills itself as a queer and woman-friendly shop focused on inclusivity and assistance. Just inside the door we’re greeted by racks of high-quality geek-themed clothing by Elhoffer Designs. I’m immediately distracted by a Spider Gwen dress and Captain Marvel hoodie, then entranced by a row of nerdy nail polishes and wraps. Bean discovers their LGBTQ and Civil Rights sections, and I can practically see the heart emojis in her eyes. Target audience acquired.
I join Bean at the counter, where she’s talking distribution with Outsider general manager Andrew Funk. Funk is describing his woes with Diamond’s back-end ordering system—a familiar refrain. I notice a table of indie and local comics with pride of place, right in the center of the room. Even better, their Local Artist comic packs bound in plastic sleeves, like the ones Bean plans to curate. I point them out to her.
“Oh yeah,” she says with a smile. “I think I’m gonna get along with these guys just fine.”
With all the problems with the distribution we have for comics, getting new players in the field is difficult. Despite all the complaining, Diamond Comics does a job that no one else can. The niche Bean is filling is more like the one filled by Tony Shenton, the go to guy for small press distribution. Shenton is an old school rack jobber who employs similar layers of shoe leather to check local shops and fill orders.
I know a lot of publishers swear by Shenton, but the world of comics may be large enough now to support more than one dedicated one person distribution center. It’s a LOT of work, Anne Bean, so good luck!
H/t Comicon.com which gave a lot of play to this story.
Diamond also does a job that doesn’t support more than two major distributors: Diamond and Comixology.
I wonder… what happens when Amazon gets into the distribution business for comics and graphic novels? Starts offering Funko exclusives?
As more stores transition to graphic novels, will Amazon (or Ingram or Baker & Taylor) offer better discounts?
Diamond has the upper hand now, as stores bundle their comics/GN/toys/games orders together to earn a bigger discount.
Depends on if Amazon wants to distribute single issues. I suspect it’s not worth it to them because the market is so small.
Stores are going to buy single issues and they’ll likely buy their GNS at the same distributor to get a combined discount. The only way I see that changing is exclusive products they need or a discount so large that it’s worth doing both in terms of financial gain and inconvenience of needing to deal with another distributor.
Also retailers see Amazon as a competitor and aren’t fond of putting money in their pocket.
Amazon does sell single issues now. They get them through Diamond I’m sure.
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