Saturday afternoon DC issued a letter to the Direct Market retail community addressing its initial plans to deal with effects the coronavirus crisis has had distribution in the comic industry.
Here is the full text of the letter:
To Direct Market Retailers:
First, the entire team here at DC hopes that you, your family and your employees are staying safe and healthy during this very tough and precarious time. We know that you have been waiting for DC to comment on the state-of-affairs and to address any measures we will take to help our community lighten the burden of the disruption to our business, and we’ve been working hard on a long-term, solution-focused plan. Here is how we will help:
Periodicals and books with in-store dates between March 18, 2020 and June 24, 2020 will be fully returnable. We’ll even provide credit for your separate return shipping of these items only.
Additionally, because we anticipate that continued disruption to business operations will create regional volatility, DC is exploring a multi-distributor model to provide us with the flexibility needed during this crisis to get new content to our readers on an ongoing basis. In the short-term, we continue to engage in active conversations with Diamond to help us solve the distribution issues that have arisen and hope to get new product to stores that want or need it as soon as possible. We will provide additional information about how we’ll make that happen in the coming days.
Thanks for your patience with us. DC will continue to monitor the situation, continue to speak with you directly, and continue to support you through the days ahead. You are the lifeblood of this industry.
The DC Team
While DC makes it clear this was a first outreach to retailers and more details are to follow, the letter does leave several key questions open-ended.
First and foremost are details as to the “multi-distributor model … to get new content to our readers on an ongoing basis,” and if this model involves print distribution channels in addition to or temporarily replacing Diamond Comic Distributions during its suspension of service. Diamond, is the exclusive distributor of DC’s single-issue comic books to the specialty market, along with Marvel, Image, Dark Horse and others, and a multi-distributor model could mean a significant change to the market as its existed for several decades.
The role of digital publishing in that model will also be a detail retailers and readers eagerly await.
While there are differing opinions in the retail community for and against publishers releasing single-issues digitally while Diamond service is on pause, publishers such as Dark Horse and BOOM! Studios have suspended single-issue sales both in print and digitally but will continue the release of OGNs, collections, and art books through its booktrade-minded distributors.
DC is already confirmed to be releasing some new material – such as the Gotham High OGN – through its booktrade distributor Penguin Random House in April.
Direct Market retailers have the option – as they did prior to the coronavirus pandemic – to order trade paperback and hardcovers through these booktrade distribution channels. Some, such as the major Direct Market retailer Discount Comic Book Service, currently do not.
Circling back, Marvel – along with DC – have not yet announced their plans for the release of single issues either in print or digital.