Meanwhile back at the ranch…while retailers have been getting plenty of encouragement from Penguin Random House Publisher Services on switching over to get your Marvel Comics, Diamond’s new terms for retailers remains something of…a mystery.
It’s been made clear that Diamond can continue to carry Marvel products as a wholesaler, and retailers can continue to order from them on that basis if they wish. But I understand that Diamond has yet to send information on what their terms will be. PRH is offering free shipping and a blanket 50% discount. Diamond’s terms included varying discounts and restocking fees.
Thus far, the only information Diamond sent to retailers was a letter on April 23rd that offered tantalizing hints and the headline “RETAILERS Diamond Continues Work Continues on Terms of Sale for Marvel, Other Products”:
Good Afternoon, Diamond Customer.
We wanted to provide a brief update about where we are in the process of presenting new terms for Marvel product. Some retailers have asked for clarification that they can continue to order Marvel product for delivery with their product from our many other publisher partners. This is absolutely the case, and we are pleased that we will continue to serve you in this capacity.
We appreciate your patience as we carefully and deliberately review how we approach not just Marvel’s offerings, but our entire array of product listings. We are exploring and considering numerous changes that will allow us to best continue serving your needs and the needs of the market as a whole. This is an opportunity to make discounts easier to understand and reward retailers who increase orders and broaden the selection of product available in their stores.
Freight is a big part of these considerations, but far from the only one. All of this analysis takes time and we are working as quickly as possible to deliver new information to you. Our goal is to have new pricing schedules out within the next month and we appreciate your patience as we work through these changes. We will provide more information as it becomes available via both email updates and Diamond Daily.
In the meantime, you can always visit our Retailer Support Center to contact our Retailer Services Team with any account-specific questions or concerns.
As always, thank you for your business, your partnership and your support.
While this sounds like a fairly sweeping reform of their business terms, it’s light on details. And to be fair to Diamond, there is a lot to figure out now that they are no longer carrying DC or Marvel periodicals, the two products that long formed the bedrock of their business. It is also fair to say that the words “nimble” and Diamond” were rarely uttered in the same sentence.
But the clock is ticking. Today, May 7, was to be the deadline for new customers to set up their PRH accounts so that they can be ready to order products that come out in October – a mere six months away. The video produced by Marvel and PRH referenced above was mostly to urge stores to get on board setting up accounts.
However, retailers now have an extra two weeks to do this according to a letter sent out from PRH this week:
In order to give everyone more time to set up an account with Penguin Random House, we are extending the deadline to Friday, May 21st.
As a reminder, retailers should set up an account with Penguin Random House by this deadline in order to avoid any disruption of Marvel product. This includes periodical comics, collected editions, and promo items. Please be aware that starting in October, Marvel promotional items will be allocated and shipped to all stores by Penguin Random House. In order to ensure that you continue to receive these items please make sure that you have a current PRH account in good credit standing. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to check in with us at [email protected]penguinrandomhouse.com.
Retailers who have a PRH account by May 21st will also receive the John Romita Jr. wraparound variant cover. Billing accounts will receive one copy of the inked variant, and shipping accounts will receive one copy of the colored variant per location.
You can download our Direct Market Information Kit to learn more about how to set up an account with Penguin Random House and continue ordering Marvel product. Included in the Information Kit is an application, which you can fill out and email to [email protected]penguinrandomhouse.com. Given the number of new accounts being created, there is a five-business-day turnaround time for our New Accounts team to process your paperwork.
If you’ve already set up an account with us, or are in the process of doing so, thank you! Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.
Stay safe & healthy!
– The US Direct Market Sales Team
A couple of things to unpack here.
• One would guess that many retailers just have not signed up, hence the extension. This despite the fact that they are being lured with that most desirable of incentives: a variant cover! It’s kind of like Krispy Kreme offering free donuts to people who get vaccinated. (Which reminds me…) How can you turn this down!
• I’m told that retailers are generally excited about the free shipping and other services that PRH is offering. This isn’t an “I HATE LUNAR!” thing. Nonetheless, people don’t like change and often procrastinate, so keep sending those reminders.
• I’ve heard people speculate that Diamond’s lack of info on their own terms could be them just trying to outgame PRH a bit. Or maybe, as one person put it to me, “They’re scrambling.” Maybe they just haven’t figured it out yet?
• Meanwhile, PRH is staffing up. This week they announced the promotions of Hector Torres to Senior Sales Manager, International Direct Comic Market and the Caribbean, Penguin Random House, reporting to Mike Zaug VP, International Sales Director
Americas, International Special Markets, Operations & Education.
In this new role, Hector will manage the sales for all Penguin Random House-published and -distributed titles into the International Comic Store Market in all territories outside the U.S., the UK, and Canada, as well as continue to oversee sales into the Caribbean. Hector has been a vital part of International Sales team for the past 10 years as a sales manager for the Caribbean and Latin America. Before that, he was a buyer and manager at Borders in Puerto Rico for 11 years. Hector will bring his strong customer-focused sales experience to this new role, along with his passion for comics and graphic novels.
PRH has also been hiring, and even some ex-Diamond employees. Former Valiant VP of sales Mathew Klein has now joined PRH as Sales Manager – Specialty Retail, for one, and I expect we’ll see some other names popping up there. PRH seems to be hiring experienced comics folks, which is a promising sign.
But there are still a few moves to be made on the board. And a huge change looming in the distance. Gird up!