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On Saturday afternoon, DC Entertainment finally released a statement to retailers about their plans to deal with the ongoing Coronavirus crisis. While brief, the statement alludes to more details to be announced on a potential “multi-distributor model to provide us with the flexibility needed.” With Diamond Distribution currently not shipping new product, this could have a huge ripple effect.

For now, all periodical shipping up to June 24 will be fully returnable. DC’s printer is currently shut down, so they would need to find an alternative for production as well.

The statement comes amid ongoing speculation that DC will be exploring digital distribution for the period when physical comics will not be available from Diamond – and I’m hearing this move was confirmed to retailers.

While other publishers have announced they will not make digital comics available for comics that are not available in print, DC seems to be going ahead to get the comics out.

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ComiXology, the primary digital distribution channel has not made any statements about what will be available on April 1, however I’m told that they only sell what publishers give them to sell, and it’s up to the individual publishers to decide what will be available.

DC’s statement is below.

To Direct Market Retailers:

First, the entire team here at DC hopes that you, your family and your employees are staying safe and healthy during this very tough and precarious time.  We know that you have been waiting for DC to comment on the state-of-affairs and to address any measures we will take to help our community lighten the burden of the disruption to our business, and we’ve been working hard on a long-term, solution-focused plan.  Here is how we will help:

Periodicals and books with in-store dates between March 18, 2020 and June 24, 2020 will be fully returnable. We’ll even provide credit for your separate return shipping of these items only.

Additionally, because we anticipate that continued disruption to business operations will create regional volatility, DC is exploring a multi-distributor model to provide us with the flexibility needed during this crisis to get new content to our readers on an ongoing basis.  In the short-term, we continue to engage in active conversations with Diamond to help us solve the distribution issues that have arisen and hope to get new product to stores that want or need it as soon as possible.  We will provide additional information about how we’ll make that happen in the coming days.

Thanks for your patience with us.  DC will continue to monitor the situation, continue to speak with you directly, and continue to support you through the days ahead.  You are the lifeblood of this industry.

All best,

The DC Team

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19 COMMENTS

  1. The “Multi Distributor model” says nothing about sales to retailers, just consumers. The not-in-the-announcement-but-in-replies-to-that-announcement on Facebook, multiple DC reps said “Here’s where we are on digital. All our data shows the digital consumer and the physical consumer are two different audiences. For now, we’re going to continue to release digital comics, but will revisit this if the pipeline for physical distribution continues to be challenged and disrupted.” Which is a Deeply Cowardly way to tell retailers, many of who are going to miss that in the scrum.

    I could not be more disappointed now to be told we’re not valued, and totally on our own, by DC, when we provide the overwhelming majority of their publishing revenues.

    Retailers will not forget this betrayal.

    -B

  2. I think you’re going to have to get used to it, Brian. The comic book industry has been hanging on by a thread for over a decade. After nine years living in a small Canadian town far from any comic book store, I’ve realized that comic shops don’t do anything for me. I don’t care about accumulating masses of paper in closets. I don’t care about an unexpected increase in value of a physical book. I don’t even care if I have a copy of a comic on my hard drive; I’m fine with reading it online.

    I doubt that DC is going to be the last publisher to consider this to be the right time to merge those ‘two audiences’ as much as possible.

  3. ‘In the short-term, we continue to engage in active conversations with Diamond to help us solve the distribution issues that have arisen and hope to get new product to stores that want or need it as soon as possible’

    So just to be absolutely clear
    DC have agreed to take returns through June to presumably encourage all the retailers still operating, to let’s say triple their initial orders and sell to all the customers of retailers who have a mandatory shut down.
    How is this worth it DC?
    As if we aren’t already destabilized?
    Don’t you realize how a united front with your fellow publishers is the only way to preserve the direct market stores who have had to financially absorb every one of your publishing u-turns over the past decade?
    This will not be forgotten at FOC.
    This will not be forgotten when April Previews is due.
    This will not be forgotten Mr Jim Lee when you sign your name on another cover.

    Great Punchline

  4. This is terrible news that is buried in the lead “Full Returnability” headline. Very sad for all involved.

  5. The comic book industry has grown substantially over the last decade; the majority of comics buyers choose print; and the majority of those do so not because of where they live, but because the formats are NOT equal in their minds, as they prefer the experience of print. Quite a lot of readers are into comics exactly because they want physical libraries — kept in whatever spaces they craft for them.

    The experiences and preferences of a single consumer in a remote area are valid, but there aren’t a lot of industries that would recraft their entire businesses to suit them and no one else.

  6. “I think you’re going to have to get used to it, Brian.”

    I’m just going to assume that anyone who comments on a comic book news site cares enough about comics to make the following point worth making. I made it years ago to trade readers and it’s still valid with digital, though perhaps just slightly less.

    Those digital comics you read, James Edwards? Their creation is largely being paid for by physical print comics. Take the physical print run away and where do you think publishers are going to find the money to make up for that? And just in case you think “But I only read online comics that don’t have physical publishing!”, how many of those people have NEVER worked on physical print comics?

    One of the problems that has plagued comics and the whole entertainment industry has been allowing secondary and even tertiary formats to become the “tail that wags the dog” as the expense of primary mediums.

    Mike

  7. And this is why Diamond made their decision. Because big corporations are going to look for their cut regardless of the consumer’s well being. I personally have no interest in paying full price for a digital comic, and I prefer the physical comic book experience. Retailers need not worry about me making the switch to digital. I will however continue to make use of my unlimited subscription choices when the price drastically outweighs the inconvenience of digital reading. So those old comic runs I’ve been reading digitally – I will keep that going. And as for my new comics purchasing, I’ll wait until my local store has new material and stories are allowed to open again.

  8. I prefer paper, but the problem remains for me the same and especially now with my employment situation, buying a lot or almost any comics are just just out of my price range. There’s a few I’d like to try, but at 3.99 and up I can’t afford them. Also when I look at the review sights and see what’s been done to my old favorites I don’t feel much like wandering through a shop trying to find independents that I might be able to afford. My only current comic is Knights of the Dinner Table, by subscription.
    I hope things change for all, and I don’t know enough about the marketplace realities as far as production and distribution to say if DC is doing the right thing or not, but at least they seem to trying something.

  9. If the comic industry grinds to a halt for retailers, then what are freelance creators supposed to do for a paycheck over the next few months? GoFund Me’s and merch shops aren’t gonna keep people alive.

    Creators might not forget what retailers were demanding of them during this time either.

  10. I can’t imagine that DC is actively trying to destroy any retailers, and I’ve already stated I don’t know enough about how the industry works, but what exactly does everyone think that DC is trying to do? After all while they have the properties and can keep making the movies it’s a lot easier to test out a new character or story concept in the comics and then translate them into the movies as sort of a pre-market test, why would they want to loose that? The question I have is will this help or hurt and how much either way?

  11. “Retailers will not forget this betrayal.”

    So what will retailers do about it? Stop selling DC comics?

    Ha! Most comic shops are kept in business by superhero pamphlets from DC and Marvel. Without those, they would quickly go out of business.

  12. I guess my earlier question doesn’t matter anymore as DC gave in to the stores. Retailers won the ability to continue to wonder when that sword of irrelevance above their heads will finally drop while they sell bullshit variants. Good prize.

  13. Several years ago, the Comics Journal reported that more than 60% of direct-market sales are of Marvel and DC publications. (At some shops it’s 90%.) This has essentially allowed DC and Marvel to have their own stores, without the hassle of paying rent and salaries, or maintaining the stores. Retailers deal with that.

    Marvel and DC superhero comics — and those cynical variants — are the bread and butter of the direct market. Without them, most shops would collapse.

    You’d think shops would draw erudite readers who want to explore the whole medium, not just one genre. And the larger shops do have customers like that. But most shops are just “superhero convenience stores.” They’re places where superhero fans go for their weekly fix. And not much else.

  14. If people want to read digital superhero comics right now, there’s a plethora of stories from decades past to sink your teeth into. I myself have never read most of DC and Marvel’s back catalogue (aside from a few Showcase and Essentials volumes when I was a teenager), let alone other publishers’ wares. I’m taking this time of uncertainty to go back and immerse myself in those stories, maybe develop an appreciation of older comics I lost somehow (I really did enjoy those volumes). I’ll be back to the store in time, but for now, I’m happy to dive in on older digital comics.

  15. “You’d think shops would draw erudite readers who want to explore the whole medium, not just one genre.”

    I don’t want to belittle the medium but if you are a “erudite” reader…what are you doing reading comic books in the first place?

    Mike

  16. “I don’t want to belittle the medium but if you are a “erudite” reader…what are you doing reading comic books in the first place”

    Another superhero junkie gets upset when someone suggests the medium can be more than the lowbrow superhero crud he loves. Way to go, Mike.

  17. “Another superhero junkie gets upset when someone suggests the medium can be more than the lowbrow superhero crud he loves.”

    Dude, there have been some masterful comics made over the years but I’ve also read enough actual books to know how ridiculous are the literary pretensions of midwit comic drones like you. There’s a reason why so many of the top “writers” of today are still stuck in comics instead of mediums that are far more lucrative and noteworthy.

    Mike

  18. Mike, your negative and insulting comments have become very tiresome. The only time you post here is to brag about how brilliant you are and how stupid everyone else is. You’re a pompous jackass.

    Go back to Breitbart, Mike. That’s where you belong, with fellow right-wing nuts ranting about feminism and liberalism destroying pop culture. It’s “fans” like you who give comic book readers a bad name.

Comments are closed.