marvel logo hachetteStarting in September, Marvel will have a new distributor to the book trade, Hachette. Marvel was previously distributed by Diamond Book Distributors; Diamond Comics Distributors will continue to distribute Marvel periodicals and books to the comic shop market.

Since Marvel was acquired by Disney there had been much speculation that they would leave DBD; however, many expected Marvel to go with HarperCollins, distributor of Disney’s various imprints, including Disney Book Group and Hyperion. (Disney was previously distributed by Hachette, ironically.) Hachette is home to Yen Press, Little Brown, Grand Central, and is one of the biggest distributors to the book trade.

“Teaming with Hachette allows us to even more aggressively grow our presence in the book market, exposing new readers to Marvel’s great library of characters and stories. With Hachette’s overwhelming success in the book market, we can’t imagine a better partner as Marvel looks to expand its presence in the book market” said Marvel SVP of sales and circulation David Gabriel, in a statement.

Ken Michaels, Hachette COO said “We’re thrilled to be partnering with Marvel. Hachette’s world-class distribution and broad sales reach, combined with Marvel’s outstanding brand and product line, is sure to be a powerful combination.”

With their huge library of world-famous characters, and strong catalog of comics classic, Marvel is a feather in the cap of any book distributor. Marvel had been at DBD since 2005, and saw their book sales triple over a five year period.

Obviously, their loss could have a major repercussion on Diamond Book Distribution; however, DBD VP of Sales and Marketing Kuo-yu Liang says it will survive the loss with other strong products. “Obviously this is a big loss and we are losing our biggest client, but DBD is still going to be very strong,” he told The Beat. “We still have 50 clients, and recently resigned contracts with Image and IDW. There is no plan to cut back. Even without Marvel, we’re going to have a very strong list.” He mentioned Oni’s SCOTT PILGRIM and THE WALKING DEAD at Image as series that are poised for big years due to media tie-ins.

While he wouldn’t comment on the time frame of the announcement, Liang noted that “I would say we were definitely prepared for it. We are prepared for many different contingencies. DBD losing Marvel is a big loss, obviously. But without Marvel I still expect DBD sales to be up because we have such a strong list for other clients.”

UPDATE: Marvel has made its own release on the move, which includes news that they have extended their agreement with Diamond Comics Distributors for the direct market:

Additionally, Marvel will extend its relationship with Diamond, continuing its commitment to comic shops worldwide. Gabriel explained, “Diamond Book Distributors has been very instrumental in the growth of our graphic novel business, nearly tripling our sales in the book market over the last five years, and we thank them for their efforts. The decision to switch book market distributors was a very difficult one but as evidenced by the extension of our Direct Market agreement, our working relationship with Diamond remains very close. We remain extremely appreciative of our Direct Market retailers and continue to grow that vital market.”

Contacted by the Beat, Marvel referred to the statement and declined further comment at this time.

Sources have confirmed that the move had been in the works before the recent “Amazon Glitch,” which saw DBD client books erroneously offered for sale on Amazon at greatly reduced prices.

Obviously, Marvel’s bookstores moves will be watched very closely, and discussed widely. We’ll update the story throughout the week.


  1. I wonder if this has anything to do with Diamond’s screw-up that had Marvel’s omnibuses going for $8 on Amazon.

  2. Book sales tripling over a five-year period isn’t terrible, but what was the starting point? Readers of Hibbs’s annual BookScan report know that DC does better than Marvel in the book market.

    Since a large percentage of Marvel’s book output consists of collections of monthly comics and miniseries, how will sales of digital comics impact book sales?

    I wonder what difference(s) the change will make in terms of market penetration. Are there retailers that wouldn’t do business with DBD, but would work with Hachette?


  3. Marvel is still exclusive with Diamond COMICS Distribution, so Diamond will continue to stock and sell everything Marvel offers to the Direct Market.

    Will Marvel continue to offer Direct Market Only editions, or will these variants be available to the Book Trade as well? Will books be released SIMULTANEOUSLY to the book and comics market? Comics shops currently get Marvel titles approximately two weeks before bookstores do.

    Those who keep scorecards on the industry will recall that Grand Central Publishing was once know as Warner Books, which was the Book Trade distributor for DC Comics, also owned by Time/Warner. Hachette acquired Warner Books in 2006, and distributed DC titles until DC moved to Random House.

    Will we see Hachette authors adapted by Marvel if Yen Press doesn’t? (David Sedaris? Jon Stewart?)

    Will Marvel Kids partner with Little, Brown to offer and market more kids titles?

    HarperCollins has extensive expertise with graphic novels. I suspect Disney went with Hachette because of better terms. It appears that Disney Publishing will not directly work with Marvel Entertainment, LLC, allowing Marvel some corporate independence.

    I certainly hope that Diamond remains vibrant. They distribute many comics publishers to the Book Trade, and any troubles at Diamond Book Distribution would have a disastrous effect on the industry. (Some might remember the warehouse “telethon” sales caused by the bankruptcy of LPC Group circa 2002.)

  4. Marvel is owned by Disney. Disney would tell Marvel where they were going after Disney firmed up its publishing plans. Look for the announcement to come in a few months that Disney is also going with Hachette…

  5. @Jason – Diamond Book Distributors is small potatoes, so yeah, losing a relatively big client will be difficult for them, but not the end of the world. It certainly won’t be a huge loss that would result in restructuring the company or anything.

  6. Synsider… thanks for the question.

    The biggest reason DC moved from Hachette to Random House was because of the sales force and accounts Random House offered.

    Prior to the Watchmen movie, DC Comics shipped a free copy of the Watchmen graphic novel to every account which didn’t sell graphic novels, mostly small and independent bookstores, along with a letter explaining why they should.

    Diamond Comics and Diamond Books has a sales force, and they do an incredible job of selling comics to a multitude of markets. Will Hachette do a better job of marketing Marvel? It is possible. Hachette might offer better promotional opportunities, such as advertising and author promotions.

    Might Marvel license French comics from Hachette Livre? Perhaps Asterix? (Disney already has a business relationship: Disney Hachette Edition.)

  7. “Comics shops currently get Marvel titles approximately two weeks before bookstores do.”

    Hmmm, that’s odd, because for me it’s almost always the other way around. My local B&N has most trades (from all publishers, not just Marvel) a few days after release, but my LCS has a lag of a few weeks.

  8. ““Teaming with Hachette allows us to even more aggressively grow our presence in the book market, exposing new readers to Marvel’s great library of characters and stories. With Hachette’s overwhelming success in the book market, we can’t imagine a better partner as Marvel looks to expand its presence in the book market” said Marvel SVP of sales and circulation David Gabriel, in a statement.”

    I hate reading comics news nowadays, because everyone issues pointless statements like this. “The future looks promising for a Marvel Hyperion team-up” or “We’ll see what happens” would be good enough. The press statements usually issued are so content-free, and all of them fall into an A-B-C pattern. Just fill in the blanks with different words, and off it goes.

  9. Well, December, I see the dates listed in Marvel Previews (in the front checklist), and the dates posted on My local shop, Forbidden Planet, does get volumes before the B&N across the park.

    The practice doesn’t irk me, it’s just a question to ask, as Marvel moves from a distributor with roots in the comics marketplace to one with VERY deep roots in the bookstore market (since 1837).

  10. I’m sure there’s a delay, but I don’t think it’s two months anymore. I bought a copy of PUNISHERMAX #5 at the Union Square Barnes & Noble this past weekend, and Diamond lists it as having shipped 3/10. (It didn’t look brand new, either.)

    On the other hand, some comic shops, including Jim Hanley’s, use alternate distribution for some Fantagraphics and other non-Diamond-exclusive books, which can lead to delays on that end.

  11. Hmmm…1987 all over again. At a Star*Reach trade show in New York, Rick Obadiah and I debated whether the publishers wanted to abandon the comics distribution/retail channel in favor of the bookstores – not for periodicals but for this new form – graphic novels.

    Guess it took longer than I thought…

  12. Moondog… after the success of Maus, Watchmen, and Dark Knight Returns, book publishers tried to exploit the segment. There was an brief enlargement, then contraction.

    DC and Marvel did have dedicated spinner racks in Waldenbooks and B. Dalton’s, but it wasn’t until Pokemon that graphic novels escaped from the Humor and Science Fiction sections.

    Stuart… I was referring to GNs. Back in the 1980s, newsstands were about three weeks behind the Direct Market. My first visit to my LCS… I bought three weeks of comics! I exploited this fact later when my LCS sold out of Robin #1, but the local gas station had copies three weeks later. Now? There’s probably no lag time, as the newsstands are not much of a market.

    When I was in Germany in 1985, I discovered that there was a circuit for comics distribution. Germany got the comics first, then when the new issue was released, the older issues were sent to stands in Austria, then Switzerland and Italy. I managed to pick up about six worths of comics in two months time. (Including the German version of Amazing Spider-Man #252, which shows how long it took to export comics back in the day.)

    Panini Comics has the Marvel comics license for a big chunk of Europe. (Mostly as a result of the Perlman bankruptcy.) So it is unlikely that Marvel’s GNs will be published by Hachette in France. (Although non-616 titles could be…)

  13. Stuart: Fantagraphics has been exclusively distributed to the Direct Market by Diamond since the books that were solicited in July ’08. Previously, we bought or Fanta books directly, but we were cut out at that point. (Bud Plant and Last Gasp were grandfathered in, while we were cast into the outer darkness. I’m not bitter. Oh, no.)

    While we were buying from Fanta, we typically had their books a week or two before Diamond accounts. Now, any discrepancy between our lay down and other stores’ results from someone fouling things up, either here or at Diamond.

  14. The big advantage of a larger distributor like Hachette offers is shipping and reshelving time to stores, especially to smaller independent bookstores.

    If a store sells it’s last copy of Civil War, the store owner can now receive a replacement for the shelves almost immediately when they reorder for other Hachette books like Twilight or John Stewart’s America.

    It might not make economic sense for a store owner to order Civil War from DBD unless they’re ordering other Marvel graphic novels, Image graphic novels, etc.

    I expect futures sales of Image and Dark Horse will eventually suffer from Marvel leaving the DBD fold for the same reasons.

    If Invincible sells out, how soon will that store owner reorder more copies?

  15. For some yrs now Diamond has enjoyed a monopoly in the book business picking and choosing their clients…I applaud Disney for breaking it up..It is the right thing to do…One man was making too much money @ Diamond and when I closed my account 2 yrs ago because I was just that fed up with them they told me I was writing my own Death sentence without them…I guess I can honestly say I am glad I did what I did.. I have saved money and made it through the ressession and now getting ready to open another bigger store without Diamond as my distributor… I will never go back..!And I now have a choice as to where I can get books and a choice is always a good thing…Sincerely…! DIAMOND HAD IT COMING…!

  16. As a book retailer, I can only breathe a sigh of relief on hearing about this move, as it means I will (almost) never have to deal with Diamond ever again. They are, hands down, the WORST distributor we deal with, ranking down there among weird academic presses from Canada. My store has a FAR stronger presence for DC graphic novels. Why? Random House. No other reason. With Hachette distributing, we’ll be ordering far more Marvel books in the future.

  17. I like Diamond shipping my books. Another Distributor in the mix will only screw things up. Consistency is good. This will revert back.

  18. There is no benefit to this at all. Diamond does and has done the best job of anyone since Heroes World made a mess for the comic book industry.

    40 % Off pfft – and don’t forget that Disney will give the big stores a better deal then the comic shops.

    The sales have been plummeting for years now, so you can bet Disney will head for Walmarts with a discounted price unmatched by any other then Amazon.

Comments are closed.