In a move similar to one announced by Amazon last week, Diamond Comic Distributors is no longer taking in new comics at its warehouse. ComicBook.com can confirm Diamond has asked printers to not send them any more new products. The hold, the result of a slowdown in the economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will remain in place until further notice. Diamond will continue to ship out products that are already in its warehouse for the time being. This is a significant signal towards the future for comics shops around the country. Diamond is the exclusive distributor of new releases from all of the comics direct market's biggest publishers, including DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, BOOM! Studios, and IDW Publishing, as well as many of the smaller publishers. Diamond controls such a significant portion of the direct market that the system cannot function as is without the distributor.
We're still awaiting more specifics, but Diamond typically doesn't keep a large backstock of new comics in its warehouses. That's to say that it shouldn't be long before its stock of new issues is depleted and the flow of new products to comic shops come to an end.
What comes next remains an open question. Will publishers continue to put out products if the direct market grinds to halt? Could the market pivot towards focusing more on the digital side of things during this pandemic? Comixology is in place and other systems could pop up, but will readers make the jump? Or will the industry's biggest publishers simply go on pause for the duration of the crisis? These questions remain unanswered, but more news is sure to be forthcoming.
This news comes after publishers began rolling out plans to help ease the stress the pandemic will put on the direct market. Some, like Image Comics, announced it would make new comics returnable. Marvel announced a discount to books being sold to retailers. This also follows news that the annual industry event Free Comic Book Day has been delayed from its usual place at the beginning of the year until later in the year.
It is also worth noting that Diamond owns Alliance Game Distributors, a significant presence in the games market but not to the extent of what Diamond means to comics. No word yet on Alliance's coronavirus plans.
The news was first reported by Bleeding Cool.
UPDATE: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Diamond had informed publishers of the move rather than printers. The story has been corrected.