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Marvel splits with Diamond Book Distributors, signs with Hachette

Marvel

Marvel

Beginning in September, Marvel’s titles will be distributed in the book market by Hachette Book Group. Diamond Comic Distributors will continue to carry Marvel products to the direct market.

The announcement, made this morning in a press release from Hachette, ends months of speculation as to whether Marvel, now owned by Disney, would end its five-year-old agreement with Diamond Book Distributors. As Heidi MacDonald notes, many expected Marvel to sign with HarperCollins, which distributes Disney’s book divisions.

MacDonald speaks to DBD’s Kuo-yu Liang, who assures her the distributor will survive the loss of Marvel.

Read the Hachette press release after the break.

HACHETTE BOOK GROUP TO HANDLE SALES AND DISTRIBUTION OF MARVEL BOOKS INTO TRADE

Effective September 1, 2010, Marvel books will be sold and distributed into the traditional and non-traditional trade book channels throughout the world by Hachette Book Group. Marvel will continue its exclusive relationship with Diamond Comics Distributor to distribute its product into the comic shop market.

“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 David Gabriel, Marvel Senior Vice President of Sales & Circulation.

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.”

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Comments

10 Comments

Sean T. Collins

April 12, 2010 at 8:37 am

Recently I mentioned that maybe Diamond wasn’t doing a great job with Marvel’s distro and got lectured about how wrong I was, so I’d like to take this opportunity to pat myself on the back.

I’m betting that Diamond was behind the recent pricing glitches at Amazon and B&N. I wonder if Marvel had to suck up some of the cost?

Given the size of the companies involved, I’d guess that this had been in the works for a little while before even Amazongate. Assuming people are right and that was an error on the distributor level, that’s the sort of thing that would speed the process right up.

Curious what effect, if any, this will have on Marvel’s bookstore sales. The numbers Hibbs had for ’09 showed them trailing DC by a wide margin in that market. I don’t know enough about the business to know whether changing distributors will alter that much.

I’m sure this is a good move for Marvel. It will give them a larger presence in major bookstores.

It isn’t really about Diamond making mistakes. It is about corporate parents, and the shifting face of Book Publishing and distribution.

Disney now owns Marvel. Disney has for many years partnered with media conglomerates that are considered competitors in the film space, for book and periodical publishing needs, some times with more than one. Hachette was once part of Warners, as was Hyperion. Diamond at one point was primarily a direct market distributor, not general trade.

But I think there are even deeper issues, as far as actual sales in book stores, that are changing the amount of graphic novels on shelves. Distribution changes constantly, with corporations trading properties like so many poker chips all of the time.

Most other major graphic novel publishers have moved to book publisher distribution over the past few years…to keep up, this is a smart move for Marvel to have made. Nobody knows the direct market like Diamond, but nobody knows the trade bookstore market like than a publisher’s sales and marketing team, especially the sales reps out in the field.

It’s also now extremely likely that trade bookstores will now be able to buy Marvel’s GNs on a returnable basis; if it doesn’t sell, they can return it for credit. (Depending on Hatchette’s discount and returnability policies, which I admit I don’t know). One thing Marvel will have to be cautious of is overprinting a GN—if, say, a buyer at Bookstore Chain X gets very excited over a specific graphic novel and wants to take a strong position on it, well, then Marvel will need to print to that level. But if it doesn’t sell, that book can be returned to Hatchette for full credit. With good planning and the trade bookstore expertise of Hatchette, Marvel can avoid any big disasters, but large unexpected returns can seriously hurt or sink a small publisher.

Marvel was already shipping returnable product to bookstores… ever since 1982 when they started their book line and partnered with Publisher’s Group West. Diamond BOOK Distributors is the Book Trade division of Diamond COMICS Distribution. DBD also distributes IDW, Image, Dark Horse, Oni, SLG, numerous games, and many small press lines.

As for Marvel getting hit with returns… they’ve been doing this for years. Either a) the returns fulfill orders to the Direct Market, which has a longer shelf life, b) the books are sold to a remainder company (Bud Plant in the past, Tales of Wonder, etc. now) and appear in discount displays, c) Marvel offers a special discount to the DM, and the copies appear in longboxes at conventions, d) the overstock gets pulped or buried.

It seems that Marvel’s strategy is to print the expected number for a first printing, let it sell out, wait for a new influx of readers (Disney’s Law: Every seven years there’s a new audience which hasn’t seen Snow White, etc.), then relaunch the line with new printings.

Some publishers use the Direct (non-returnable) Market to finance the second printing which is sold to libraries and bookstores.

What publishers must do in the next five years is: 1) stop preaching to the choir… get outside the cons and comics shops and promote the books and creators to the general public. Publishers need to attend more book fairs and librarian conferences and educator conventions than they do comics conventions. 2) develop robust kids lines so that kids comics’ licensed to original title ratio is similar to the larger juvenile licensed to original title ratio. When that happens, the librarians and teachers will have thousands of titles to select from! And once those young readers mature and explore more adult fare, then we’ll see comics from almost every publisher, they’ll be ubiquitous, and it won’t just be a hobby.

Marvel Comics - A dying Dinosaur

May 12, 2010 at 11:35 am

My opinion is that Marvel Comics has been a a dying dinosaur for years. The handwriting has been on the wall after numbers of blunders at Marvel Comics.

IMHO Stan Lee sold the business years ago, and it went to a corporate level. Loyalty within fell to a low. The Kirby issues at hand caused a backlash. Artist and writers saw changes they didn’t like or agree with.

Heores World came along – a failed attempt to not be dependent on Diamond Comics.

Capital Distribution was closed along with many other small distributors and the industry became dependent on Diamond Comics.

Newsstands closed in enormous numbers and Marvel Comics lost visibility. The loss of kids was the beginning to an end of an era. Spinner racks were and are a thing of the past. Many of the newsstand distributors also closed the doors and Marvel Comics lost sales in a big way.

Marvel Comics failed again at trying to open their own stores.

Marvel Comics failed at trying to dominate the industry when Image surfaced and the alternatives companies became noticeable. They simply printed garbage with flashy covers to push the competition off the shelves. Shelf Dominance was the path they took.

Marvel Comics failed again and again with bad leadership and bad direction for years.

Marvel Comics failed at creating new and exciting characters since the 1960’s and before then.

Marvel Comics has been living off the creations of 1960’s.

Marvel Comics will continue to fail until it recognizes that legitimate comic book shops are a viable means to their own survival. Movies will not sustain the industry for long. The movies are a short term fix for a major mistake made many years ago.

Diamond Comics will survive and control the industry for many years to come, with or without Marvel Comics.

To Dying Dinosaur

February 14, 2011 at 5:18 pm

To Marvel is a dying dinosaur,
Why are you specifying Marvel? What you say is characteristic of D.C. as well, as a matter of fact the whole industry.

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