Well, that's not a great start for Penguin Random House is it? DCBS is the biggest retailer of direct market comic books in the world, which is why it was picked by DC Comics to become their exclusive distributor of direct market comic books to other retailers, Lunar Distribution. They are now also distributing Ahoy Comics and Scout Comics, and have ambitions to join Diamond in becoming a wholesale distributor of Marvel Comics to other retailers, from Marvel's own exclusive direct market distributor, Penguin Random House. This means that not only is DCBS a customer of Penguin Random House for Marvel Comics titles, but it is a rival.
This week is the first time Penguin Random Houce has been distributing direct market single issue comic books to comic book stores. So when last night, DCBS sent out the message "We are writing to let you know that the shipment of Marvel items coming from Penguin Random House has gotten lost on its way to us. It is currently being looked for but since we have not yet received any of our Marvel items for this week we are unable to start processing shipments. We sincerely apologize for the delay that this is causing and appreciate your patience" it was probably not a good start. Neither were the reports from a number of comic book stores who had actually received their Marvel titles from PRH for the first time.
- Retailer Ryan Higgins of Comics Conspiracy tweeted "Oh no. The PRH packing of Marvel Comics is bad. Really bad. Like, really really bad… Just normal boxes the same size as the comics, no protection. Most books in every box is damaged because it's shipped UPS with no protection."
- Mike Sterling of Sterling Silver Comics had a better experience, albeit with lots of foreboding, saying "Just received my first shipment of Marvel comics from their new distributor…no damages that I can see, despite the boxes not offering a whole lot of protection (one good bump in the UPS pipeline would destroy everything inside). Haven't checked for shortages yet. Does include a "packed by" slip, which I'm certainly not used to from a comic distributor…Whoops, finally did a count and while everything's there, there were four (minorly) damaged comics. Now to jump through the hoops of having to report the things."
- Mike Beyer had a worse experience telling Bleeding Cool "We received our books today crammed in incredibly tiny boxes that had zero protection from the rigors of shipping and literally 70% of our books where damaged. I can only imagine how things went industry wide. It seems that these guys think they can ship comics like they ship their novels to book stores and everything will be fine. I can only imagine how much money they will be losing over the amount of damaged copies they will have to replace."
- Pete Kilmer posted "Thankfully ours were ok. BUT 3 pieces of tape, no protection and given how thin those boxes are, in no way shape or form will they stand up to holiday shipping"
- Jeffrey Conolly posted "Somehow by some miracle ours were okay but man will it not take much to have almost everything be damaged."
- This was a common factor with "Chet Americanman" posting "Ya, mine came undamaged. But I am pretty sure that was just an act of God. They are going to have to do better. I thought they had promised that, but I have never been impressed with their packing on graphic novels over the last couple of years."
- Power Pack Nation posted "Diamond's had their shipping problems, but never anything like this. We got 1 box filled with basically kindling, 1 box that we'd never find acceptable from Diamond or Lunar, but in this case, are reluctantly considering "good enough" just to have some product, and according to the website, there's a 3rd box of some pretty major books (like Immortal Hulk #50 and all the Star Wars, plus some other stuff) that they haven't even bothered to ship out yet. Just a disaster."
But Doug O'Loughlin of the Comic Cave was happy, posting "got some Penguin Random House comics from Marvel w/that free shipping! I love this sweet note about who packed it … On sale Wednesday." I understand that retailer concerns are being addressed by David Gabriel and his team at Marvel, with Penguin Random House. The more examples of problems you give, the more that can do to fix them…