Bleeding Cool has been covering the changes in the direct market distribution with an equal mix of fascination and horror. After Diamond Comic Distributors lost 85% of DC Comics direct market distribution to its own biggest customer, DCBS, in the form of Lunar Distribution, it then appears to have lost the same amount of Marvel Comics direct market distribution to its Maryland neighbour, Penguin Random House. However, Diamond had a get-out clause, those stores that still wished to order through Diamond rather than go direct to Penguin Random House, could do so.
However, Bleeding Cool was told that Diamond's new terms would be the same 50% discount that PRH offers, or less, combined with reduced shipping charges for all titles. Given that most comic book stores get over 50% discount on Marvel Comics currently and are already paying Diamond shipping for other titles, this did not go over well with those who were thinking of sticking with Diamond for Marvel.
And this week, comic stores were told what their discount would be for their own store is they stuck with Diamond for Marvel, and it's even worse than some expected. I am aware of one medium-sized comic book retailer with a 56% discount level (plus shipping) for Marvel Comics with Diamond. he has just been informed by Diamond that, if he sticks with Diamond for his Marvel comics, he will have a 44% discount on Marvel titles, with reduced shipping costs at 2% of the value of the order. This compares to a Penguin Random House 50% discount with free shipping – which will still work out worse than he used to get from Marvel through Diamond, but an awful lot better than the new Marvel/Diamond deal.
This is not an isolated case. The only reason stores can think of sticking with Diamond for Marvel is reduced paperwork, their total Diamond order discount being higher if Marvel Comics numbers are included – but my retailer friend crunched his numbers, and they don't even touch the sides. Can Diamond Comic Distributors really survive losing both 85% of Marvel and DC Comics? The other 15% is the UK/Europe market to whom Diamond UK distributed far more efficiently across the Atlantic than any challenger, big or small.