Retailer Tim Davis of Alternate Reality in Chicago, Illinois was prompted by our article on an Ohio retailer now splitting Marvel business between Diamond and Ingram (see 'Ingram Fast Enough on Marvels for Comic Stores?') to send us this update and an earlier letter he sent to Comics & Games Retailer on his experience with Ingram. 



After reading Dark Star Books and Comics' comments on Marvel Comics and Ingram Periodicals' quick street dates, it struck me that I never sent you folks a copy of this letter I sent to Comics & Games Retailer recently (see 'Tim Davis of Alternate Reality on Marvels from Ingram, Part 2').  They were nice  enough to print it in their May issue with a response from Milton Griepp.  Since I first wrote this nothing has really changed; I'm still getting the same Marvel comics from Ingram's on Fridays that I get from Diamond on Wednesday.


I've had an Ingram account for a few years and one thing Mary Alice at Dark Star needs to realize about Ingram (assuming she doesn't already) is they do adjust your pull based on what you strip cover return to them, it's a kind of 'Newstand Darwinism'.  If you cut your Diamond order by say 20 copies on New X-Men and give those 20 to Ingrams, you'll receive those 20 copies each month as long as you're not stripping and sending anything back.  They will adjust your pull numbers up or down depending on the returns you do or don't send back.  At some point this could leave you stuck with either no copies of New X-Men or a lot of extra copies of said title.


Anyway, for me the most interesting aspect of this discussion has become the amount of pressure Diamond will eventually feel.  I get the feeling that right now there are not a lot of stores cutting their Diamond orders in favor of opening up an Ingram's account.  For Diamond that sort of makes all this like the storm on the horizon, which I am sure they are watching but not yet acting upon.  The new question I have now (as opposed to the queries I put in my original attached letter) is how rocky is the current relationship between Marvel and Diamond?  Since Heroes World went belly up, the impression I've had is Diamond treats Marvel like the rich but bald-headed, inbred stepchild of the family.  They have to carry Marvel (and I'm sure they enjoy the income) but they also keep Marvel at the ass end of the 'Premiere' publishers in Previews and Marvel almost never gets a cover spot.  It's an odd situation because Marvel is the 800-pound gorilla of the catalog, however at the same time they recently (relatively speaking) tried to put Diamond out of business with HWD.  I can't help but think that Marvel's bad boy Jemas chaffs over this Previews situation every day; his ego seems to be too big not to.  I think if circumstances in the industry were different (i.e. early 90s better) Marvel would try the whole self-distribution thing again, which brings me back to Ingram.  Is Marvel using Ingram to put pressure on Diamond?  Marvel recently announced they were thinking of dropping their product descriptions from Previews each month (gee, there's a loss) and they seem to be making a lot of overtures into what has been the 'Newsstand side of the fence'.  Could Marvel make Ingram their 'Premiere' distributor?  Marvel's been bitch-slapping retailers around for about two years now, does anyone have any illusions they would treat Diamond any differently if given half a chance? 


Just some food for thought.