Marvel has announced that it will be using Penguin Random House as its new distributor to thousands of comic book stores across the nation. Marvel and Penguin Random House Publisher Services has announced an exclusive worldwide multi-year sales and distribution agreement for Marvel's newly published and backlist comic books, trade collections, and graphic novels to Direct Market retailers. The new agreement will go into effect starting on October 1st. Direct Market retailers will be able to choose between order directly from Penguin Random House or alternatively through Diamond Comics Distributor, the previous exclusive distributor of Marvel comics to the Direct Market, as a wholesaler under terms established by Diamond in the US and the UK. Hatchette Book Group will continue to manage distribution of Marvel graphic novels and trade to the book market.
Under the terms of the new arrangement, Diamond Comics Distributors will order stock through Penguin Random House for distribution to Direct Market retailers. Diamond will now manage their own prices on Marvel goods for retailers who decide to order through them instead of through Penguin Random House.
“Marvel’s entire history is built on telling great stories. And as we’ve seen for decades, those stories go hand in hand with equipping the comic shops who share them. Marvel and Penguin Random House stand by that vision, and we are excited to build and expand those opportunities for our talent, retailers, and fans,” said Dan Buckley, President of Marvel Entertainment. “Comics are the core of the Marvel Universe, and we are confident this new partnership will continue to grow and evolve this resilient industry. We look forward to advancing our capabilities with PRHPS to serve our fans and the Direct Market. We thank Diamond for their many years of support and partnership as we continue our relationship with them in other areas.”
This marks the second major publisher to leave Diamond Comics over the last year. DC Comics opted to leave Diamond Comics in favor of two newly formed distribution companies - Lunar Distribution and UCS Distribution - last year after Diamond Comics temporarily ceased distribution to stores due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lunar Distribution, which is owned by the mostly online retailer Discount Comic Book Services, became the sole distributor of DC Comics in October 2020. Prior to Diamond discontinuing its Market Share statistics in March 2020, Marvel and DC accounted for 67% of the total direct market in terms of total retail and 73% of total products. This marks a seismic shift in the direct market industry, which has seen Diamond Comics as its exclusive distributor through all of the 21st century.
This change will not impact this year's Free Comic Book Day, a comics retailer event in which free comics are given to hundreds of thousands of customers and serves as one of the biggest comics sales days of the year. Diamond Comics manages the Free Comic Book Day event and will still offer Marvel comics as part of this year's event.