ComicsPro President Jenn Haines has spoken to Newsarama about the Marvel and Penguin Random House deal.
Marvel's decision last week to change its distributor to comic book shops ('The Direct Market) from Diamond Comic Distributors to booktrade powerhouse Penguin Random House Publisher Services will have a broad impact across all levels of the comics industry, but the first to feel that seismic change will be the comic book retailers themselves.
Last week we took a sampling of various comic book store owners' immediate opinion of this change after 24 years, and now we've had a chance to speak to a representative for comic book stores as a whole.
Jenn Haines, the owner of the Ontario-based comic book store chain the Dragon, was sworn in recently as the president of comic book retailers trade association ComicsPro. She comes in at a unique time, with the pandemic, DC's decision in 2020 to switch distributors themselves, and now this.
"This news brings both positives and negatives," Haines tells Newsarama. "On the downside, a lot of stores are worried about losing their discounts and about the workload of ordering from an additional distributor. However, the positives seem to outweigh these negatives."
"Penguin Random House is an excellent company that has been a central piece in growing graphic novels in the book market. They also bring certain perks with them, such as displays, terms, and free shipping, which will help stores in the long run," she continues. "As long as they can get a handle on the trickiness of packing comics and books without damages, this should be a good step forward for the industry as a whole."
Penguin Random House is offering free ground shipping for all outgoing boxes to its comic shop clientele, and has sworn to ship comic books and graphic novels separately in an effort to stem damages.
"And for those retailers who are uncomfortable with this change, we are really pleased that Diamond will still be there to support those shops," she adds.
In the announcement of the Marvel/Penguin Random House partnership, they made it a point to say that Marvel's longtime comic book shop distributor Diamond would be able to buy direct from Penguin as a wholesale sub-distributor, so comic book shops could continue getting their Marvel Comics through Diamond - albeit now as another middleman, with different terms presumably than what Penguin can offer directly or what DIamond offered when it was Marvel's distributor to comic shops.
Diamond's owner Steve Geppi issued a statement about the change, noting he expects a change to the discount terms his company will offer comic book shops for Marvel products.
One thing that isn't changing in all of this is digital comics. Check out our list of the best digital comics readers for Android and iOS devices.