Diamond Comic Distributors has announced agreements with publishers SQP Inc., Toyspress, and Graphic-sha that will allow Diamond to represent them to the bookstore, library, warehouse club, mass merchandiser, and specialty retail markets.  Books from these publishers will presumably be available to pop culture stores through a variety of channels. 


SQP, which has been around since 1973, specializes in moderately priced collections of fantasy, good girl, and erotic art.  Although the SQP books are perfectly geared for the specialty market, they could find a similar success in bookstores (see 'Hidden Sellers: SQP's 'Good Girl' Trades').


Graphic-sha's How To Draw Manga series has been a runaway hit in specialty stores.  Comic retailers have long ago learned the value of stocking 'How To' trades, and the Graphic-sha titles are always among the most reordered books on Diamond's monthly lists.  Apparently Diamond's exclusive is limited to Graphic-sha's new English language series, The New Generation of Manga Artists, but given the extremely strong performances of previous Graphic-sha titles, this is another 'small' publisher with considerable potential.


Like Graphic-sha, Toyspress is a Japanese publisher, but instead of specializing in 'How To' books, Toyspress publishes and licenses Mamoru Nagano's Five Star Stories.  Nagano's manga space opera takes places in five different star systems (the Joker Systems) where giant robots fight it out in Gundam-like battles.  Toyspress handles all the licensing for Five Star Stories, so it is interesting that the publisher is planning to publish an English version and distribute through Diamond rather than license the property to a U.S. publisher for an English language edition.  Could this be a new business model for smaller Japanese manga publishers?