Huge industry changing news. Marvel and Penguin Random House have signed an exclusive multiyear agreement for PRH to distribute Marvel comics and graphic novels to the direct market. The deal starts in October.
Comics shops will still be able to order comics and graphic novels from Diamond as a wholesaler.
Hachette remains Marvel’s distributor to bookstores for graphic novels and collections.
Rumors had swirled for years that PRH was thinking of getting into the comics periodical distribution business, and I’d heard a year ago that Marvel was looking for alternative distribution sources during the Diamond shutdown, much as DC did by going with Lunar and DCBS.
Marvel sent out a lengthy press release which I’ll reproduce below since it’s unusually detailed for a business release. However, one paragraph in particular must be smarting for some people in Maryland:
After a thorough analysis of the market environment, Marvel has chosen PRHPS as its distribution partner to create a sustainable, productive supply chain and enhanced infrastructure for Marvel publications that will benefit comics retailers and fans alike for years to come.
A mention of free freight — unlike PRH, Diamond charges retailers for reorders — is also telling.
We’ll be updating this story throughout the day as retailers react, but to say that Diamond Comics is unhappy at losing their biggest publisher — more than 50 of their business — 7777 today is an understatement.
Marvel Comics and Penguin Random House Publisher Services (PRHPS), a division of Penguin Random House, the renowned trade book publisher, today announced an exclusive worldwide multi-year sales and distribution agreement for Marvel’s newly published and backlist comic books, trade collections, and graphic novels to comics shops, known as the Direct Market. PRHPS officially begins its distribution to Direct Market retailers for all Marvel titles starting October 1.
After a thorough analysis of the market environment, Marvel has chosen PRHPS as its distribution partner to create a sustainable, productive supply chain and enhanced infrastructure for Marvel publications that will benefit comics retailers and fans alike for years to come. Penguin Random House is known for its state-of-the-art multi-ranging services that enable independent booksellers to increase efficiency and profitability.
“Marvel’s entire history is built on telling great stories. And as we’ve seen for decades, those stories go hand in hand with equipping the comic shops who share them. Marvel and Penguin Random House stand by that vision, and we are excited to build and expand those opportunities for our talent, retailers, and fans,” said Dan Buckley, President of Marvel Entertainment. “Comics are the core of the Marvel Universe, and we are confident this new partnership will continue to grow and evolve this resilient industry. We look forward to advancing our capabilities with PRHPS to serve our fans and the Direct Market. We thank Diamond for their many years of support and partnership as we continue our relationship with them in other areas.”
Penguin Random House has long been committed to physical retail in order to foster and grow their market. Independently owned brick-and-mortar bookstores are local community builders, advocates for books, and passionate influencers for the industry.
After seeing a double-digit percentage in closures of physical bookstores from 2001 to 2011, and notwithstanding an anticipated rise in e-books, PRH significantly extended and expanded its outreach to physical retail. Through its robust supply chain of rapid direct shipping, greater access to data, and premier customer service, PRH helped support healthier margins that led to a market turnaround. These past experiences and learnings will be invaluable when adapting for today’s physical retailers in the Direct Market.
“This is an exciting time for comics, and we’re thrilled to partner with Marvel in taking the next steps to support the growth of the marketplace, together with our Direct Market retail partners,” said Jeff Abraham, President of Penguin Random House Publisher Services. “Based on the foundation of our relationships with physical retailers, we’re confident in the significant growth of the comic book industry and welcome the opportunity to further collaborate with and invest PRHPS’ resources in the Direct Market. Combining the standard-setting supply chain and sales capabilities of PRH with Marvel’s renowned universe of stories and characters, we expect to reach even more fans of its artists and writers throughout the world.”
Penguin Random House is a free-freight company, allowing retailers to simplify their business models while alleviating the volatility and complexity of reducing freight costs and planning. Through many of PRH’s standard offerings, like its rapid replenishment program for graphic novels and advanced supply chain, Direct Market retailers will experience more flexibility to manage inventory and stock their stores to best serve their customers.
Direct Market retailers can choose to order Marvel products direct from PRH, or alternatively, through Diamond as a wholesaler under terms established by Diamond in the US and the UK. Hachette Book Group will continue to manage distribution of Marvel’s graphic novels and trade collections to the book market.
Marvel’s full print and online October Marvel Previews catalog and comic book solicits will be available in July and distributed by PRHPS to active accounts. All comic book and trade orders for titles going on sale this October should be made through PRHPS. Early solicit titles will be available for order starting on May 26. Retailers can open PRHPS accounts now to register for Marvel’s monthly title catalogs and solicits, which will continue to be available to retailers approximately three months ahead of on sale.
Marvel and PRHPS will be sharing more information with retailers in the coming weeks and months, and retailers will have an opportunity to learn more about PRHPS’s offerings and hear directly from Marvel and PRHPS leadership in the coming weeks.
Direct Market retailers can reach out to Penguin Random House for more information about their respective markets:
∙ US Retailers: email@example.com
∙ International Retailers: firstname.lastname@example.org
∙ Canadian Retailers: email@example.com