Matthew High (matthigh) wrote,
Matthew High

Misc. Diamond tidbits

The blogosphere has been in a tizzy for the past week about the recent changes at Diamond Comic Distribution. And for good reason, too - it's probably the biggest news in small press comics in a couple of years. As expected, reactions range all over the place - from dire "The sky is falling, this is the end of the direct market as we know it" to "No surprise, this has been expected for some time, it's all business". No need to hash out all of that discussion here - if you are really interested, just do a quick blogsearch and it will bring up more than you ever wanted to read. It is of interest to me, because I did work in the comic book industry for fifteen years, including the almost-unique perspective of working at a small-press indy distributor that was in direct competition to Diamond.

Mostly, this is just a bit of clarification, since I talked to our Diamond rep earlier today to help clear up a few points of confusion that have been spreading around online.

- First of all, if you are a supplier to Diamond, and you have not heard from the yet - CALL YOUR BRAND MANAGER. They are not trying to keep anything secret, they are not trying to avoid you - it's just that they have hundreds and hundreds of active suppliers and only so many hours in the day to call everyone. (For example, we are supplier #6157, and we first started selling to Diamond eleven years ago) They will be more than happy to explain everything, or arrange a time to talk with you when it is more convenient.

- The new guidelines everyone has been talking about are, in fact, correct. The new benchmark guidelines for products is a $2500-wholesale purchase order. This is a pretty "hard" benchmark, although there is some wiggle-room for products that are on an upward trend or close to the break-even point.

- The new guidelines affect ALL products - not just comic books, not just small press titles, but pretty much everything in the catalog. If a gaming product, video game or toy fails to meet the benchmarks, it is also under the gun as well.

- For the *most* part, products already solicited through April (Feb 2009 Previews Catalog) are safe. But the benchmarks will be much more strictly applied beginning with products solicited for May 2009 release.

- Diamond is still very open to working with publishers to solicit product, trying to find ways to help a publisher meet the benchmarks. Higher price points, different formats, promotions, advertising, etc - anything to help it reach the minimum sales levels is open for discussion. It's not like they are trying to cut out certain publishers or genres or product types (which some of the small press folks out there want to believe) - it's all about the dollars, it's all business.

- And here's one interesting news bit that I haven't heard anywhere else yet - Diamond has a new reorder policy! For comic book periodicals and magazines, retailers can only order these books for 60 days after their initial release. After 60 days, Diamond locks down the code and does not accept any more reorders. Apparently this will not affect non-periodical items (like graphic novels, trades), but I could see how this could throw a major monkeywrench in the works for how some retailers out there do business. Also not sure if this affects brokered publishers or not.

Anyway, now back to your regularly-scheduled direct market fear and loathing.

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