Movies & TV / Columns

What Will Be the Fallout From DC Cutting Ties With Diamond Distributors?

June 6, 2020 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
DC Comics Diamond Distributors

I know I usually cover comic book related stuff earlier in the week but this is a biggie. DC announced that it will no longer distribute through the industry leader, Diamond Distributors. 

With all the serious headlines coming out on an hourly basis, this might be lost in the mix but the decision looks to have far-reaching implications for the comic book industry. 

The announcement informed customers that all orders for DC product will be fulfilled by Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors for periodical releases and Penguin Random House for graphic novels and collected editions.

The email that was sent to retailers explained, “We recognize that, to many of you, this may seem like a momentous decision. However, we can assure you that this change in DC’s distribution plans has not been made lightly and follows a long period of thought and consideration. The change of direction is in line with DC’s overall strategic vision intended to improve the health of, and strengthen, the Direct Market as well as grow the number of fans who read comics worldwide.”

The message continued, “In the near term, Diamond will only be fulfilling orders placed through June 1 Final Order Cut-Off and will not solicit the sale of new DC titles further. To ensure a smooth transition for retailers, DC will suspend Final Order Cut-Off for June 8, making those books available to order on Final Order Cut-Off on June 15.”

A spokesperson from DC told The Hollywood Reporter, “After 25 years, DC and Diamond Comic Distributors are ending their long-standing relationship. Moving forward, comic book retailers can obtain their DC books from Penguin Random House, or their books and periodicals through Lunar or UCS comic book distributors. DC continues to be committed to providing the Direct Market with best in class service and the fans with the world’s greatest comic books.”

For decades Diamond Comic Distributors held a virtual monopoly on comic book distribution in the North American market. Following Diamond’s decision to close down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March, followed by Diamond announcing that it would withhold payment to publishers, citing cash flow problems, DC announced plans to find alternative distribution.

Looks like DC settled on two newly created companies,Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors, to handle periodical distribution while Diamond was closed. All parties involved, including DC and Diamond, publicly stated that DC would continue to release product through Diamond when the latter resumed distribution in late May.

What does this mean? Well, immediately, with the loss of DC product, Diamond loses the second-biggest publisher in the North American market, responsible for roughly 30 percent of the entire market in 2019. 

Diamond owner Steve Geppi released this statement:

Diamond Response to DC Comics Announcement

This evening, I shared the following message with all the members of our Geppi Family Enterprises teams. I also wanted to share it with you, our many industry partners.

Today, DC sent out a retailer communication indicating they are ending their long-standing relationship with Diamond. In April, we were informed that DC was going to begin distributing products through additional partners. At that time, they asked us to submit a proposal for a revised agreement with the understanding that Diamond would continue to be one of their distributors. Which we promptly did. They then requested an extension to June 30 which we also accommodated. Last week, DC requested an additional extension through July. We responded with questions and DC indicated they would reply today, June 5. Instead of receiving a response, today we received a termination notice. While we had anticipated this as a possible outcome, we, like so many others in the industry, are disappointed by their decision to end our partnership so abruptly at this time.

Although we had hoped to reach an agreement with DC, every great change also presents great opportunity! Rest assured, Diamond is a strong company and our success does not depend on the actions of one business partner. While we recognize this change impacts the industry, we are well-positioned to seize growth opportunities and are committed to the success of our publishing partners, the Direct Market and our industry as a whole.

We continue to be excited about the growth potential in the comic, game and toy industries as well as growth opportunities for our other Geppi Family Enterprises companies. I truly believe that our comeback will be bigger than our setback and our best days are ahead.

Thank you for you continued support and for all you do. -Steve

Steve Geppi

Chairman, Geppi Family Enterprises Founder, Diamond Comic Distributors

Lost in this are the comic book store owners. They’ll now have to deal with 3 distribution companies, with an increased cost of additional shipping charges.

In case you didn’t know, comic book stores operate on a pretty thin profit margin and this additional delivery charge could break them. Thanks to Covid-19 things were bleak…now things are dire.  

Rumors are also swirling that DC has long range plans to make changes to their output, with single issues being called into question. 

This is a developing story and I reached out to DC for comment. I’m pretty sure I heard snickering.