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BAM's exclusive Star Wars #1 variant cover.  Oh, yes, they're part of the DM now.
BAM’s exclusive Star Wars #1 variant cover. Oh, yes, they’re part of the DM now.

When last we discussed what was going on with Diamond and Books A Million (BAM), it wasn’t entirely clear what was going on, other than there were comics on sale and they were coming from Diamond, bagged & boarded.  Interestingly, _nobody_ wanted to comment about their monthly comics being available at BAM.  Diamond would not give a written confirmation this was happening, although I got a verbal confirmation that BAM was a customer and the books were not returnable.

How often do publishers NOT want to tell you where you can buy their books?  Or a retail chain doesn’t want to tell you what they carry?

I did eventually get some information from that most notorious of informants, “the unnamed source.”  As usual, “unnamed” was in a position to clarify what was going on.  There are apparently around 70 BAM-owned stores getting shipments from Diamond.  All 23 of the “2nd & Charles” used book chain owned by BAM and 40-ish BAM stores.  This apparently started back around August, so it appears to be a rollout with my local store only coming online in December.

My source says 25-30 titles are being ordered and that lines up with what I’ve seen in person.  Most of the comics in the store near me appear to have 3 copies at most and as it goes into the second month of stocking the DM titles, there are multiple issues of some titles on the rack.  It’s a mix of Marvel, Image and IDW.  Heavier on the Marvel, if all the stores stock the same.

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Now, going back to 2nd & Charles, I was informed that they were doing pull lists.  I called one up.  Sure enough, they had pull lists.  And I didn’t have to explain what a pull list was, either, which is interesting, since I’d consider that a DM-centric term.  I also asked if they could special order a comic?  The response was that they could make a request, but it wouldn’t necessarily get filled.  In contrast, I asked the local BAM if they could place a special order for me and they said they only got what the distributor sent them.

I surmise from those responses that the ordering for BAM is still fairly centralized, which would make a certain amount of sense if it isn’t completely rolled out and/or is still in a pilot stage.  (BAM didn’t return phone calls or emails on the topic.)

I also see BAM has their very own Star Wars #1 variant cover, so they’re being a fairly active participant in stocking Marvel.  Looked like a 10 copy order for my local, much heavier than anything else.

So, 250 BAM stores at 3 copies per title = 750 copies for anything they carry at such a time as it becomes a full rollout.  Maybe they order heavier on some things, maybe they don’t.  At what point the stores get the authority/ability to place special orders with Diamond is a very interesting question, since there’s no reason someone with an account shouldn’t be able to do so.

It may or may not be a coincidence that Dark Horse has disappeared off the newsstand at both BAM and Barnes & Noble in my area.  I’m waiting to see if Dark Horse turns up bagged & boarded at BAM.

I’m also waiting to see if Marvel, Image and IDW turn up at Barnes & Noble.  That’s pure speculation, but Hastings has a relationship with Diamond.  BAM has a relationship with Diamond.  I can’t imagine Diamond not trying to get some product placement on the Barnes & Noble newsstand.

The number of Direct Market comic shops is thought to be around 2600.  Adding in 250 BAMs bumps it around 9%, even if it’s a limited selection.  Barnes & Noble would be more like 750 locations.  We’ll see if it happens, but Diamond’s reach is getting wider with BAM and more places to buy is a good thing for anybody whose title gets picked up, although I suspect that DM retailers are not going to be particularly happy about this development.

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Have you read Todd’s book Economics of Digital Comics?  You can also ignore him on Twitter at @Real_Todd_Allen

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Many years ago (early 2000s) I was told by a Diamond executive that Barnes & Noble did have a Diamond Comics account.
    Working at the store level, I never saw anything to confirm that, as we got comics via newsstand distribution, and trades via book distributors (CDS, then Diamond Book).
    Perhaps via Ink Newsstand? Charlesbank? Bookstop/Bookstar?

    Three copies seems to be a general newsstand minimum. I suspect that BAM Central is watching the numbers and adjusting accordingly.

    I had not thought of 2nd & Charles. That’s a good way to deal with unsold copies, especially if unsold stock is sent to a warehouse, then repackaged for sale online.

  2. I *think* that’s probably why the Diamond-shipped comics are bagged and boarded, but I’m not sure how many issues of a title they’ll keep on the rack before doing something with them… like sending them to a 2nd & Charles.

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