In a move that is both unsurprising and shocking, IDW has announced that it is changing to Penguin Random House Publisher Services for distribution of both comics and graphic novels to the direct market. PWH was already IDW’s distributor to bookstores, so it consolidates all of their sales distro under one roof.
As it did with Marvel’s similar move, Diamond has announced that they will remain as a wholesaler for IDW, so retailers who wish to order through them can still do so.
But it’s still yet another major blow to Diamond’s once near monopoly on distribution to the direct market and it comes as no surprise after words that IDW’s exclusive contract with Diamond had lapsed months ago — many had been waiting for this particular shoe to drop. Image, Dark Horse, and Dynamite are among the major publishers still distributed by Diamond exclusively.
According to PR sent by both Diamond and PRH, the deal will go into effect on June 1, 2022.
“IDW succeeds when the Direct Market succeeds,” said IDW Publisher Nachie Marsham. in a statement. “No matter how amazing our comics and graphic novels may be, it’s the retailers that are connecting readers with our stories. Because of that, I couldn’t be more excited about our future with Penguin Random House and I have the utmost confidence that every store, no matter the size, will see the benefits of the high levels of care and service that PRHPS brings.”
Jeff Abraham, President of Penguin Random House Publisher Services, said, “IDW have been wonderful partners these past five years and it’s been thrilling to see the evolution of its publishing program, and to support the phenomenal growth of their graphic novels into the book trade. With PRHPS’s expansion in the Direct Market, we see this as a natural extension of that partnership and look forward to putting the expertise of PRH’s supply chain, customer knowledgeability and sales know-how, and solutions-centered customer service to help bring IDW comics and graphic novels to even more fans throughout the world.”
Diamond’s Chairman, President & CEO Steve Geppi sent out his own statement about the move. “I would like to thank IDW for their many years of partnership and we are delighted to continue selling IDW’s comics, trades and graphic novels to our retail customers as a wholesaler effective June 1, 2022,” he wrote. “At Diamond, we understand the unique needs of the direct and book markets and work hard every day to service and support all the stakeholders in our industry. From developing sales tools and launching new services, to organizing industry-wide events and engaging with fans on our consumer platforms, Diamond is consistently creating and evolving new and easier ways for publishers, retailers, and fans to connect. I am proud of the role that Diamond plays and I look forward to our continued service of the direct and book markets.”
PRH’s bombshell deal to distribute Marvel comics, announced back in March, into comics shops takes effect next month, and PRH has been clear in their messaging for why they are taking on this new business: a “mission is to support comic shops in fostering a life-long love of comics, graphic novels, and manga for fans of all ages. PRH is a free-freight company, and is committed to bolstering all physical retail, where independently owned comic shops and bookstores are some of the most passionate industry advocates and anchors of their communities.”
To support all this, PRH has just opened their fourth, and newest, distribution facility, a one-million square-foot warehouse in Hampstead, MD — they also have their fulfillment headquarters in nearby Westminster.
These facilities will be the centerpieces for their supply chain to the DM. Retailers will have 24/7 access to online ordering at PRH’s comics portal and can also visit www.prhcomics.com, a more public facing website covering comics, graphic novels, manga, and more.
IDW is regularly one of the DM’s top publishers, with such titles as LOCKE & KEY by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez; Hasbro’s TRANSFORMERS, G.I. JOE, and MY LITTLE PONY; Paramount/CBS’s STAR TREK; Nickelodeon’s TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES; SEGA’s SONIC THE HEDGEHOG; Lucasfilm’s STAR WARS; Stan Sakai’s USAGI YOJIMBO; THE BEAUTY OF HORROR by Alan Robert; WYNONNA EARP by Beau Smith; and many more. Via their Top Shelf imprint they published George Takei’s THEY CALLED US ENEMY; the MARCH trilogy by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell; and SURFSIDE GIRLS by Kim Dwinell.
While the move comes as no surprise to industry watchers, the shape and dynamic of the post-Marvel, post-DC Diamond is still taking shape. Diamond is holding an online retailer summit at the end of the month just before the Marvel/PRH deal goes into effect. It will be interesting to hear their future plans.