In a note to his fellow retailers giving them Diamond codes for this year’s Eisner nominees, Brian Hibbs made a rather interesting discovery: Diamond has only 59% of the 101 individual SKUs in stock.  Meanwhile, Baker & Taylor, the world’s biggest book distributor, has 83% of them in stock.

Hibbs points out the irony of the biggest comics distributor having fewer books in stock than a generalist mega-distributor. What he doesn’t mention is that a lot of the nominees are from traditional book publishers, and the direct sales market traditionally has a very hard time getting and keeping those books in stock.

A lot of comics shops that deal in mainstream reader materials have taken to using B&T for just that reason. As far as we’ve seen, Diamond has always been fairly open and honest about this: if you have to go somewhere else you can.


  1. You’ve touched on a major pet peeve of mine, one that I’ve been complaining about for a good two and a half years, since I made the jump from comics publishers to mass-market publishers.

    I bent over backwards at the time to make sure that my new publishers wouldn’t ignore the direct market, and insisted that they open accounts with Diamond. Turned out that it wasn’t so much a matter of mass-market publishers ignoring Diamond, but of Diamind ignoring the mass market.

    By way of example, my graphic memoir TWO GENERALS (publishing by McClelland & Stewart, which is owned by Random House) was a 2011 Eisner nominee, and is a best-selling book here in Canada. But unless readers live near forward-thinking shops such as The Dragon, The Beguiling, or Strange Adventures, they probably didn’t buy it in a comic store. Many direct market retailers who want to support the book have told me they’ve had copies on back order for a year.

    At least Diamond is honest about which masters it serves. But comics retailers who are still ordering exclusively through Diamond are like TV viewers who still watch only the networks: they’re missing the best stuff.

  2. This is a very interesting revelation. I actually bought my copy of The HIVE from my local shop, Wade’s Comic Madness in Levittown, PA, and it was nice because it was a signed copy that the Publisher I guess sent out in the direct market. But that book has never been re-ordered from that shop. The shop has a rather healthy collection of indies, but I think this revelation shows why they don’t have some books regularly in holding (for instance, they keep Ghost World and a few other Clowes books in stock and similar work from Top Shelf, but not very much at all). I hope that comic shops can find a way to get better book distributor to their shops, but I wonder if Diamond has some kind of exclusivity contract with them that they can’t have business with other big distributors.

  3. I mislike the heading — because it certainly isn’t the STORE’S fault that Diamond stocks certain things in such a… desultory fashion.

    Another thing that might be worth observing is that the stuff that Diamond doesn’t stock can be gotten CHEAPER, as well, from non-Diamond sources.

    @Cjbabcock: “but I wonder if Diamond has some kind of exclusivity contract with them that they can’t have business with other big distributors.”

    No. There is no such exclusive, whatsoever.

    WRT the signed HIVE, one *possibility* is that the store is trying to reorder the *signed* copy… but it has a different product code and ISBN than the unsigned version….


  4. I remember being in lots of discussions years ago, in which the long-term role of the Direct Market comics shop was debated, in contrast to mass-market bookstore and newsstand outlets which never carried anything but DC and Marvel. The comic shop (it was argued) would be like the specialty bookstore, attracting customers who wanted to go beyond the limited selection of (for example) mystery novels at B&N, and find a place with a deep and wide stock of mysteries. With exceptions, of course, it doesn’t seem to be working out that way.

  5. “With exceptions, of course, it doesn’t seem to be working out that way.”

    I’ve yet to be in a book store that has 1/3 of the GN/TP stock that I do, and I’m nowhere near the best stocked shop in the country.

    Baker & Taylor might have more of these books in stock than DIAMOND, but let’s also be very very clear that we’re talking about (in 20 of the 21 cases) ONE SINGLE COPY stocked — the class of books we’re talking about are not especially commercial sellers… in EITHER market.


  6. There hasn’t been a comic book shop near me in over two years. Several years back there were five within easy reach.
    Even when those shops were open only one of them did anything more than carry a handful of titles which weren’t subscription/pull service.

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