You may not know the name Diamond Comic Distributors, but your local comic shop owner sure does. You might have glanced the name on a cardboard box or two laying around the shop, but there’s a reason you can’t find a box with any other logo on it. For decades, Diamond has held a total monopoly over comics distribution. If you want to stock your store, there is only one number to call, and you either pay their prices or else.
How did things get this way? Well, consolidation was one culprit, but the collapse of their competitors was another. Throughout the 90s Diamond grew bigger by acquiring smaller distributors. By 1995 there were three major sources of comic book delivery: Diamond, Capital City, and Heroes World Distribution. Flush with cash from the speculator boom, Marvel decided to take their distribution in-house by buying Heroes World.
That left just two free competitors, who started batting each other by making exclusive deals with major comics publishers before the other could. Capital City could not amass as many of those deals as Diamond could and soon filed for bankruptcy. Diamond bought them out, and then the following year Marvel fell into big financial trouble and had to shut down Heroes World. Only Diamond was left standing, and they have been the only choice since 1997.
That was the way it was for nearly twenty-five years, until very recently, when the COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot of things. Diamond decided to halt distribution entirely until it was safe to conduct business again. Then they announced they were withholding payments to comics publishers….who had no choice but to cancel all of their upcoming releases, and wonder if allowing this monopoly to happen was all that beneficial for them.
That brings us to today’s news. DC just announced they will no longer be distributing through Diamond, a major blow to the company that could inspire competitors to make similar moves. An official statement from DC reads “We can assure you that this change in DC’s distribution plans has not been made lightly and follows a long period of thought and consideration. The change of direction is in line with DC’s overall strategic vision intended to improve the health of, and strengthen, the Direct Market as well as grow the number of fans who read comics worldwide.ā€¯
Starting immediately, the 32-page floppies will be delivered through Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors, and the trades and collected editions will come through Penguin Random House.