Just as Marvel has moved its bookstore distribution from LPC to Diamond (see 'Diamond Moves Into Bookstore Distribution'), ICv2 has learned that Dark Horse is moving from Penguin to LPC for its exclusive bookstore distribution. Though no press release has been issued as of yet, we've been told that the switch will take effect on July 27, 2001. With its extensive backlist of comic trade paperback titles (only DC's is bigger) Dark Horse is a comic industry leader in bookstore sales thanks to its popular Star Wars titles, its extensive line of translated Japanese manga (see 'Dark Horse Retro Manga Boffo'), and its Legends series featuring Frank Miller (Sin City, The 300), Geoff Darrow, Mike Mignola, and other top artists. Though Marvel, with its ambitious plans for increased production of trade paperbacks has considerable potential, the addition of Dark Horse to the LPC stable will probably more than offset the loss of Marvel.
Dark Horse will join an impressive list of comic industry publishers that are clients of LPC, including Image (see 'Image Signs with LPC'), Drawn & Quarterly, Top Shelf, Oni, and Tokyo Pop. LPC, which says it is the third largest distributor of books to bookstores in the U.S., has demonstrated an ability to match stores with appropriate comic material. In contrast to the newsstand market (see 'Newsstand Sales Slipping Across the Board'), sales of comics in traditional bookstores have been growing steadily over the past few years. If bookstore sales of comic collections continue to increase, look for more 'games of musical chairs,' such as we have seen from Marvel and Dark Horse, as publishers search out the best possible deal and the widest possible distribution.