Remember how Marvel pulled out of the newsstand market several months ago?  Well, they’re back.  After a fashion.  And they’ve brought Image and IDW with them.

Here’s what I know: sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I noticed the local Books A Million had a new rack of comics.  Marvel, Image and IDW titles — all bagged and boarded.  The sort of thing you don’t expect to see in a bookstore, but there it was.  Here’s what the rack looked like this past Saturday.


I was with family the first time I noticed it and didn’t have to flag down a clerk and ask about it the first time I noticed it.  I initially had thought one of the local comic shops must have worked out some sort of consignment arraignment.  That does not appear to be the case.  The next time I was in the neighborhood, what did I see sitting in the window?  See for yourself:


Why yes, that IS a Diamond shipping box addressed to the store, shipping from a Diamond warehouse.  And what was inside?


Yes, there were bagged and boarded books inside the box.  So either somebody took the books out of the box, bagged and boarded them and then placed them back in the box before leaving them lying out for somebody else to rack or they were shipped from Diamond pre-bagged and boarded.

I flagged down a clerk but he didn’t seem to know much.

Here’s what we don’t know:

  • How many of the roughly 250 Books A Million Stores are getting comics from Diamond?  While I don’t think this is the only one, I suppose it’s possible.
  • Is Diamond really bagging and boarding them?
  • Whether or not these are returnable?
  • What kind of special ordering is now possible?
  • Does Diamond have some sort of budding newsstand initiative?

Since these are getting shipped from Diamond, I strongly suspect this started the first week of December.

Don’t worry.  We’ll get to the bottom of this soon enough, but in the meantime, Marvel is back on the newsstand and Image and IDW are there, possibly for the first time.  Even if its just at one chain.




  1. I would imagine it could be an arrangement similar to what the distributor has with Hastings, though the bags and boards are a new element. (Though when you think about it, it makes some sense as a selling tool, since the poor condition of comics on newsstand racks was one of reasons that made the Direct Market an attractive alternative for some buyers.)

  2. “Don’t worry. We’ll get to the bottom of this soon enough, but in the meantime, Marvel is back on the newsstand and Image and IDW are there, possibly for the first time. Even if its just at one chain.”

    Not to be a meanie, but shouldn’t you have got to the bottom of it before posting? Or even some information other than what you personally saw? Even Rich Johnston would wait for more than… Nah, he’d have totally ran it the first time he saw the comics.

    Oh, and Image has been in Newsagents (like a Newstand but better!) in Australia several times through the years. The 90’s years, to be specific. I think at least one pass at it was from Newstand editions created for the US market (newsprint paper and US price in corner box), whereas others were repackaging of old material for Oz.

  3. I always thought Hastings employees bagged and boarded comics in-store. Usually for the variants that would have premium prices or as they moved current comics into back issue bins. Most of their comic stock that i’ve seen at a half dozen different hastings are just regular comics on a shelf with pull list service available.

    You’d think it would be really costly to have Diamond employees carefully bag and board comics for a retail chain. I knew one LCS that did that for every new title and it took them all day wednesday to the new books up on the shelf.

  4. There is kind of a significant part of me that objects to bagged-and-boarded-for-cover-price books on the shelves of a chain, just on general principles. But then, I also would suspect that if Diamond were providing such a service, they’d be providing it at the maximum profit for themselves, so this should translate (esp with extra shipping costs for the B&B) into at least 10% lower discounts, giving a marginal ROI.


  5. Bagging and boarding isn’t new at Diamond. About half of the 1 for 20 or higher variant covers I receive from Diamond are already bagged and boarded. But regular comics, that is something new.

  6. The first time I saw Spawn was in a Jewel-Osco supermarket in the Chicago area. That was over 20 years ago and I was pretty young so I don’t remember much about it. But at least Todd had the series in a newsstand situation at the time. I’ve also seen Image floppies at bookstores over the years, so I don’t think this is a wholly new situation. Still, it’s an interesting development!

    My experience is that non-comic shop people continue to see single issues as highly valuable and collectible, especially with the popularity of comic book inspired movies and shows. So maybe this is a “nu speculator” kind of thing, considering the books are being bagged and boarded, which to the general public normally indicates that a comic book is worth more than the cover price.

  7. I believe Image first hit the newsstands in the mid-1990s, when they joined the Comics Magazine Association of America. By that time, the Comics Code was so vague that most of their titles (Spawn, etc.) qualified without needing a seal. Or they simply sidestepped the CMAA and went direct with Eastern News, etc. Same for Dark Horse, which did join.

    Now? Good question. How many Image titles are monthly, and on a regular schedule?

    Bagging and boarding also helps forestall the media showing up one day, with an enraged parent.
    Sure, graphic novels get a pass now, but a comic book? Nope… it’s easy to dredge up the image of a 1960s spinner rack of multi-colored Batman and Kryptonite.

    The bigger question: unsold merchandise. Yes, you can monitor this, but if you’re getting in at least one copy a month, then it becomes a big problem rather quickly. Do you stop selling a series? How do you sell the singles once the trades ship? (Ship them to Russia by the pound?)

    As for discounts, doesn’t Diamond group all chain stores together into one account? That’s a pretty big chunk of change. (Does that also apply to variants? If the entire account meets the threshold, can variants be ordered?)
    Checking the Jan 2015 order form for Diamond Previews…
    For DC, that’s 57% ($35K+)
    Marvel: 59% ($125K+, 57% for $30-75K) (Most comics = D4 = Standard Discount)
    Image: (Most comics = D2 = Standard Discount)
    Dark Horse: (Most comics = D3 = Standard Discount)
    Diamond doesn’t define “standard discount”.

    What’s available to newsstands? Here’s Ingram’s catalog:
    (pages 35-39)
    Dark Horse, IDW, DC, Archie, Bongo, and a few Disney magazines.

    And… of course… the bigger reason to order from Diamond Comics? Non-comics exclusive merchandise can be offered in stores and online. (Does Diamond ship daily?) Since most comics shops don’t have an online store (or even an online portal!), it’s a market segment easy to exploit. Heck… start a “comics club” at the stores! Email a PDF of the Diamond Catalog to members, along with the order form! Offer a discount for pre-paying. Push the order to Diamond, get the product, ship it out!

  8. My local B-A-M (NW FL) has been carrying comics issues newsstand style for several years, not sure who’s shipping to them. Since I purchase my comics from my LCS, I don’t usually stop to look at them.

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