Diamond Comic Distributors and Tokyopop have announced an exclusive distribution agreement covering comic book specialty shops and hobby stores in North America.  CDS will continue to distribute Tokyopop manga to bookstores, but comic shops and hobby dealers will now only have one source for Tokyopop titles. 


Diamond is raising the discount it provides retailers on Tokyopop products to a maximum level of 50%, starting with orders placed via the March 2004 Previews and reorders placed after March 31, 2004.


Diamond and Tokyopop also committed to 'working together to achieve timely release of Tokyopop's titles in these markets.'  Several retailers surveyed by ICv2 for our upcoming Retailer's Guide to Anime & Manga mentioned that their chain store competitors had Tokyopop books a week or more before they received them from Diamond.  Tokyopop Vice President of Sales & Marketing Steve Kleckner told ICv2 that Tokyopop will be shipping Diamond directly from the printers and that retailers ordering through Diamond 'should all get their books first.'


Kleckner also told ICv2 that he feels direct market retailers will be better off under the new distribution agreement: 'Diamond will be increasing their inventory of Tokyopop books. By going to Diamond, increasing the discount, and getting them to really stock our books, we really believe that the direct market customer will be getting the best possible service there is.  We will work with them (Diamond) to make sure that they have the full range of product at all times for the customer.'


Tokyopop had one of the largest rosters of distributors of any of the non-exclusive comic publishers.  And prior to this deal, it was the largest comic publisher that wasn't exclusively distributing through Diamond to comic stores.   Tokyopop was undoubtedly the largest or one of the largest comic lines of such distributors as FM International, GAMUS Distribution, Cold Cut and AAA Anime. 


A spokesman for Cold Cut Distribution, one of several distributors directly affected by Tokyopop's decision, told ICv2 that Cold Cut had not been contacted by Tokyopop, but if the reports of a Diamond Tokyopop exclusive were true, 'It would not be a good thing for comic shop retailers.'