201310020342.jpgHere’s a pretty huge story that kind of slipped below the radar yesterday: Dark Horse Book has shifted from Diamond to Random House for its bookstore distribution. Diamond will, of course, continue to distribute Dark Horse periodicals. That leaves Image and IDW the biggest bookstore accounts at Diamond—along with many smaller ones, including Archaia, Top Shelf, Dynamite, Oni, and more. You can see the entire list in the above link—still a sizable chunk of the graphic novel market.

Random House’s biggest comics client is DC, but they also distribute Archie, Kodansha, Titan Books, and Vertical.

PW has a story on the move, with some quotes.

Michael Martens, Dark Horse v-p, trade sales, said the decision was based on RHPS’s “impressive” pick and pack facility and the distributors ability to “get books into brick and mortar bookstores,” citing fast replenishment, multiple international flights (including multiple Asia flights) each week and the size of the RHPS sales force. Martens cited RHPS’s ability to sell to buyers in all categories other than comics, noting that “we’re ambitious in areas other than graphic novels.”

It is true, Random House is the biggest dog in the book distribution business—when DC moved there many wondered if they would get the proper attention, but it’s definitely worked out for them.

As mentioned in the PR below, Dark Horse had a huge bestseller with their The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia art book, and they’ve ramped up their art book publishing since then.

We don’t know the behind the scenes on all this…but we bet there were some. PR below:

Dark Horse Books has announced a multi-year sales and distribution partnership with Random House Publisher Services (RHPS), a division of Random House LLC for the bookstore market. Dark Horse, a leading independent publisher of best-selling graphic novels, manga, and art books, will begin its partnership with RHPS effective June 1, 2014. All newly published and backlist Dark Horse titles will be sold to bookstores worldwide by Random House Publishers Services, who also will be responsible for distribution and fulfillment for the titles.
Coming off an incredibly strong 2013 which saw the Dark Horse title, The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia, rocket to New York Times Bestseller status and the top spot on Amazon’s bestsellers list for all books, Dark Horse is poised to expand its award-winning line to include more of the authors and properties that consumers are looking for.
“When I started Dark Horse Comics in 1986, the plan was to create the highest-quality books, comics, and graphic novels and get them into the hands of as many readers as possible,” said Dark Horse founder and Publisher Mike Richardson. “The decision to move the book market portion of our business was very difficult. Diamond Book Distributors, our current book market distributor, has been a great partner for us for nearly a decade, but it’s now time for a new approach, one we think helps us as we expand our prose and general book categories in traditional bookstores. While we are moving a portion of our business, we know that Diamond will continue to be a strong and valuable partner in the comics specialty market.”
Diamond president and CEO Steve Geppi commented, “Everyone at Diamond has the highest respect for Mike Richardson and Dark Horse, and we’re proud of the success we have helped them achieve. We will continue to grow our business with Dark Horse and all of the publishers we represent, in every possible way.” Diamond will continue to distribute Dark Horse comics, graphic novels, books, and other merchandise to the comics specialty market.
Jeff Abraham, President of Random House Publisher Services added, “Dark Horse has shown great resilience and impressive growth in the graphic novel and manga market over the last several years. We are thrilled with the opportunity to use the same capabilities and expertise that we apply to our current roster of clients and to contribute meaningfully to Dark Horse’s expanded reach into bookstores”.


  1. well that’s troubling, what with Random House’s connection to the scam self publishing juggernaut Author Services.

    I hope that distribution does not become a strong arm to comics publishers to start charging their creators for the right to publish.

  2. I meant Author Solutions, not Services. But with all their aliases it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s one of their tendrils too.

  3. The Author Solutions suit refers to Penguin, which is currently “merging” with Random House. (If you need to update your scorecard, that’s Pearson with 47% and Bertelsmann with 53%, controlling about 25% of the market.)


    With the new “Penguin Random House”, readers will probably see a tighter marketing and publishing strategy between the UK, Canada, and US offices. Expect more Jonathan Cape titles to appear in the U.S. (Curiously, Amazon US is selling British editions here, such as Penguin’s edition of “Maus”.) Readers might see another “British invasion”, similar to that of Vertigo in the 1990s. SelfMadeHero is already leading the way, via Abrams.

    “Right to publish”? The publishers currently distributed by RHPS print mostly reprint or corporate comics. It’s either work-for-hire (DC, Archie) or licensed material (Vertical, Titan, Kodansha). Dark Horse is the most diverse of these publishers, but the creator-owned titles they publish could easily be printed elsewhere (including at Random House itself, which owns Pantheon, Knopf, Villard…).

    Also… Random House is a juggernaut in children’s publishing. Their sales force can push client titles (such as Candlewick’s Toon Books imprint) into libraries, schools, and stores.

  4. My question is, Will this help Dark Horse to step up the Nexus Archive series? They left off on Volume 12 and still have more to go…

  5. It is a very interesting move but one that all comics pubs should study. Any pub who signs on with a major distribution company needs to understand that they still need to manage their own promotion and marketing. Too often comics pubs assume the distributor will create all the marketing and promotion but this is not true. Diamond does provide excellent opportunities for entering into the book trade as to RH, Hachette , Simon & Schuster as well as Ingram. Thing is, you as the publisher, need to understand how the marketing and promotional opportunities work. Random House has excellent tools for publishers to use. Their library marketing department is probably one of the best in the business but it’s always the publisher’s responsibility to promote, promote, promote. I wish the best for DH. This is a big leap and a very smart one.
    For other comics publishers considering a move, you would be best served to learn the traditional book trade language before you take that leap.

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