DC Comics Seeking to Distribute Comics During Pandemic
DC Comics, as well as the entire industry, has taken a massive hit. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the sole comic-book distributor, Diamond, has shut its doors, and is not distributing new comics. This harms the comic book publishers, as they cannot send out their wares. It harms comic book stores, as they cannot sell the single issues that make up most of their sales. It hurts creators, as their work sits in warehouses, unmoved. But now, DC is hoping to change all that. In a letter to retailers on Saturday, they seemed to indicate that they are ready to experiment with a multi-distributor model.
The Search to Help Stores
The press release is as follows:
“To Direct Market Retailers:
“First, the entire team here at DC hopes that you, your family and your employees are staying safe and healthy during this very tough and precarious time. We know that you have been waiting for DC to comment on the state-of-affairs and to address any measures we will take to help our community lighten the burden of the disruption to our business, and we’ve been working hard on a long-term, solution-focused plan. Here is how we will help:
“Periodicals and books with in-store dates between March 18, 2020 and June 24, 2020 will be fully returnable. We’ll even provide credit for your separate return shipping of these items only.
“Additionally, because we anticipate that continued disruption to business operations will create regional volatility, DC is exploring a multi-distributor model to provide us with the flexibility needed during this crisis to get new content to our readers on an ongoing basis. In the short-term, we continue to engage in active conversations with Diamond to help us solve the distribution issues that have arisen and hope to get new product to stores that want or need it as soon as possible. We will provide additional information about how we’ll make that happen in the coming days.
“Thanks for your patience with us. DC will continue to monitor the situation, continue to speak with you directly, and continue to support you through the days ahead. You are the lifeblood of this industry.
“The DC Team”
Will This Help Stores?
Needless to say, this isn’t without some controversy. Some publishers, such as Dark Horse and BOOM!, have suspended sales of single issues, in all formats, entirely. Others, such as TKO Studios, are holding sales where some of the profits are going to comic book shops. DC seems to be trying to keep the shops, or at least their mail orders, stocked with current comics. All publishers seem to be continuing to publish graphic novels and the like to sell through book stores, such as DC’s new OGN Gotham High. Marvel, in comparison, doesn’t seem to have announced any plan.
And what of the role of digital? Even DC has remained cagey about how digital editions of the comics will come into play.
And who would be the new distributors? Will they keep things safe while keeping stores stocked in this pandemic?
As for Diamond, one could argue that having only one distributor, with a de facto monopoly, was a bad thing that was coming close to breaking the industry. Perhaps with the rise of new distributors, costs will go down, and will help stores in the long run as they recover from being shuttered due to the pandemic.
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