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Marvel and PRH sign exclusive distribution deal for comics and graphic novels to comics shops

Comics shops can still order from Diamond as a wholesaler.

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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: comicmarketus@penguinrandomhouse.com

∙ International Retailers: internationalsales@penguinrandomhouse.com

∙ Canadian Retailers: specialmarketscanada@penguinrandomhouse.com

 

7 COMMENTS

  1. I look forward to all the people that trashed DC last year for moving on from Diamond doing the same thing to Marvel.
    And, while it’s nice to attempt to keep Diamond “in the loop” on distributing, I can’t see how they last long if they are charging freight versus going direct to Penguin at no cost.

  2. Stephen Boggs-Puckett-

    There will be a significant number of “stores” that will not be able to get accounts with PRH since they are run so unprofessionally and have spent decades being “grandfathered” in to diamonds policies and discounts. They will cling to the geppi teat until it’s dry complaining the whole way…

  3. PRH offers free shipping sure the only problem is they have no idea how to ship trades properly. The packaging is terrible. I have had more damages getting trades from them than either Lunar or Diamond. The other issue is they offer 10% less discount than I get from either Lunar or Diamond.

  4. Everybody is cheering about free shipping from PRHB, but everyone also seems to be assuming that PRHB’s discounts will be the same as Diamond’s discounts (or that it will at least even out after the lack of a shipping charge). Do we know that this is in fact how things will play out?

    Also, for retailers who get their Marvel merchandise from PRHB, will this make it harder to qualify for the larger Diamond discounts for the material that is still Diamond exclusive?

  5. From the FAQ: “31. What will my discount be for Marvel titles?
    The off-invoice standard discount for comic shops will be 50% non-returnable
    (NR), freight inclusive inside the US and Canada. Please contact your sales
    representative for more information.
    32. Are there other incentives/terms?
    Promotional terms or other benefits may be available. Please contact your sales
    representative for more information.”

    Diamond has actually calculated discounts based on overall volume in many years — “grandfathering” people at fixed discounts. It’s only Marvel and DC that got recalculated regularly.

    -B

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