Alternative Forms Of Distribution Discussed at ComicsPRO

The ComicsPRO summit was held a couple of weekends ago in Charlotte, North Carolina, in which comic book retailers met to discuss the state of the industry, meet publisher, distributors, creators and more. There were a bunch of announcements made, discussions had, speeches given and solutions proposed.

And while some news made it out straight away (controversially, in one case, before the speaker had finished speaking), more from the meeting has begun to make it our way since. The usual two-week delay seems to be in effect.

As comic book convention season kicks off bigtime this month, it may be an opportunity for some of those discussions to reach a wider market.

Today, Bleeding Cool will try and take a look at a few things that may not have been reported widely to date, that may reach a wider audience in the months to come.

Specifically, there was a lot of talk about an alternative distribution of comic books and graphic novels.

Currently, Diamond Comic Distributors acts as a monopoly on the distribution of single-issue comic books to the comic book store direct market, after decades of acquiring distributors, and doing exclusive deals with the biggest publishers of such comics.

Diamond Comic Distributors dispute that they are a monopoly, and a court case to that effect was dismissed. And the publishers do use other distributors for the bookstore market, subscriptions, digital and more – with the Walmart and Target store initiatives changing the landscape a little as well.

At ComicsPRO, one of the bigger points made – and remade – was about using alternative distribution models for graphic novels.

This included bookstore distributors, which give retailers greater scope for returnability

I also heard a lot of talk about people creating micro-distribution hubs, specifically for indie comics that don't have exclusive deals with Diamond Comic Distributors. Things like the Phantom variants of a few years ago, created by a number of prominent ComicsPRO members, showed distribution possibilities amongst select stores. There was the suggestion that comic stores could group together to create smaller efficient distribution hubs of comic books that may find a different audience than those served by Diamond.

It may be worth pointing out that Diamond does a ridiculously efficient job, distributing what were intended to be pieces of disposable entertainment that could be rolled up in the back pocket, delivered in bulk, worldwide, on a weekly basis to an audience who demands they be in the same condition they come off the printing press, and that Diamond's profit margins are the lowest in the business.

But for a global distributor, they may not be as able to reflect local or specific demands as well. Bleeding Cool is looking to report on a number of big names who will be distributing their new comics on a store-by-store basis, and how that may begin to build a new model, very soon.

About Rich Johnston

Head writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world. Living in London, father of two. Political cartoonist.

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