MARKET MAVEN: What IDW’s Random House Move Means for the Comic Market


On Tuesday, IDW announced that their book store distribution operations will now be handled by Random House.

The move, which takes effect in April, marks the end of a long-standing relationship between IDW and Diamond. Diamond Comic Distributors is the world’s largest comic book distributor, and holds a virtual monopoly on domestic and European direct-market sales. According to the press release from IDW, Diamond will continue to distribute the company’s trades and graphic novels to the direct comic market, while Random House will service the book store market.

The change comes at a major turning point for IDW, which saw its strongest month ever in August. The publisher captured three of the top five top-selling graphic novel slots in the book store market with March. The shift also marks a major milestone for Random House. The distributor can now lay claim to being the top distributor for graphic novels, claiming Archie Comics, Dark Horse Comics, DC Comics, Kodansha, Legendary, Titan, and Vertical.

As graphic novel sales continue to gain on monthlies in terms of their share of the overall comic market, Random House overtaking Diamond as the lead distributor represents a significant shift in the shape of the overall marketplace. Diamond has enjoyed a privileged status as a de-facto monopoly for the last two decades. With the closing of Capital City and other competing distributors after Diamond signed Marvel and DC to exclusive direct-market deals, the distributor has become the only option for comic book shops. With book stores continuing to compete with specialty shops for consumer dollars, the divide in the comic market may only continue to grow.

Recently, questions have been raised regarding the overall health of the comic market, as major publishers continue to raise cover prices even as direct market circulation has remained flat. The lack of a mass market for monthly books has handicapped the industry with respect to expanding readership, and the trend towards trade-waiting is showing an impact on monthly sales for even otherwise successful titles.

If the book store market can become a legitimate competitor to specialty shops, the effect on the overall comic market should be a net positive. More readers, in whatever form they may come, is what the industry desperately needs.

 


[OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE]

IDW Publishing, a subsidiary of IDW Media Holdings (OTC: IDWM), today announced a multi-year book sales and distribution partnership with Penguin Random House Publisher Services (PRHPS) exclusively for the trade bookstore market. The agreement takes effect April 2017.

Celebrated for its diverse catalog of licensed and creator-driven titles, IDW publishes some of the most successful titles in the industry, including: Hasbro’s TRANSFORMERS, G.I. JOE, MY LITTLE PONY, and JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS; Paramount/CBS’s STAR TREK; Nickelodeon’s TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES; Twentieth Century Fox’s THE X-FILES; Sony’s GHOSTBUSTERS, DISNEY CLASSICS, Temple Street Productions’ ORPHAN BLACK, and many more. In addition, from IDW’s Top Shelf Productions imprint, the March trilogy is both a critical darling and commercial smash hit, currently holding the top three positions on the New York Times Bestseller List for five consecutive weeks. The award-winning trilogy of books is Congressman John Lewis’ autobiographical account of the civil rights movement with co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with IDW,” said Jeff Abraham, President, Penguin Random House Publisher Services. “IDW has a fantastic reputation in the comics business, and we look forward to working with them to grow the sales of their impressive graphic-novel publishing program.”

“Entering this new relationship with Penguin Random House is an exciting opportunity for us,” said Ted Adams, CEO and Publisher, IDW Publishing. “Our mission as a publisher has always been to create quality content and get it out to as many readers as possible. With Penguin Random House working alongside us to achieve that goal, we think IDW is primed to increase sales and take our market share to the next level.”

Diamond Comics Distributors will continue to sell and distribute graphic novels and comics exclusively to the comic book specialty market. Diamond will also continue to handle distribution of graphic novels, books, and other merchandise to the mass market in the UK.

“Our relationship with Diamond is extremely important, and one that we plan to continue to grow, and we thank them for the many successes they’ve helped us achieve in the book market up to now,” added Greg Goldstein, President and COO, IDW Publishing. “Between our solid connection with Diamond and now with the addition of PRHPS onboard, we’re excited by the prospect of attracting brand new readers and engaging the next generation of comic fans, wherever they’re seeking entertainment.”

Diamond President and CEO Steve Geppi commented, “Everyone at Diamond has the highest respect for IDW and we’re proud of the success we have helped them achieve. We will continue to work and grow our business with IDW, and all of the publishers we represent, in every possible way.”


 

Josh Epstein

Josh Epstein is the Publisher for the Capeless Crusader website. He’s a lifelong comic nerd, and “Superman” is the first word he ever read aloud. He is also an actor, singer, and resident of a real-world Smallville.

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