Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

September 8, 2009

Go, Read: Chris Butcher On DM

The prominent blogger and comics retail employee Chris Butcher has a long post up at his site about not being able to order certain books through Diamond and how this has a ripple effect that could someday shake Diamond to death if they're not careful. It's a textbook example of what I was talking about when Diamond decided to raise their minimums.

I believe that move changed the functional heart of Diamond from "we provide all the comics" -- even if maybe not all the way true and a hangover of the DM's early promise -- to something along the line of "we provide most of the better-selling comics," which may not be something that matches up with consumer habits concerning comic books without a lot of work. The short version, as Chris shows and I asserted, is that if you can get all your comics from or by going to conventions and you can't get them by going to the Diamond-serviced comics shop, you're probably going to go to the places you can get all the comics you want. Even if you can't get all your comics from a single place, you're going to split your purchases in a way that may not flatter the comics shop, and you are going to judge the time you do spend in that outlet on a basis on which it may or may not be ready to compete (you're still getting the service and discounts with which you used to be okay because you could fulfill your wants completely). This doesn't apply to everybody, but may be enough to make a difference in the health of a market that depends on the capricious, bottom-line whims of its best providers more than most.

Additionally depressing is that Butcher notes that this minimums-raising thing has had no effect on the quality of Previews that he can discern. Heck, it may not have boosted service if general rumors are to be believed. I think the overall health of Diamond and its place as part of the core identity of a entire way of producing, distributing and consuming comics are going to be big questions for the next several months. For one thing, I don't think waking up one morning and finding out they're part of a big deal would be all that surprising to anyone.
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink

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