Diamond Comic Distributors announced today the formation of a new division, Diamond Book Distributors, the goal of which will be to make a wide selection of graphic novels, anime, gaming, collectible toys, and other pop-culture merchandise available to the mainstream retail book market.  As reported previously on ICv2, book industry veteran Kuo-Yu Liang will head the new division (see 'Kuo-Yu Liang Joins Diamond to Head Book Sales').  Liang has been named the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the new division, and Josh Hayes, a nine-year veteran of the book trade who most recently worked as a buyer for the Waldenbooks division of the Borders Group, will become Sales Manager for the new division.


Currently Diamond has unparalleled opportunities in the book trade thanks largely to two unrelated streams of events.  First the enormous success of the Spider-Man film and Star Wars: Episode II have increased the interest of mainstream bookstores in the graphic novels and collectible merchandise that Diamond carries, and secondly the bankruptcy of the LPC Group, which represented the largest number of comic book publishers to the book trade, has provided opportunities for Diamond to quickly expand the number of publishers it represents to the bookstores in addition to Marvel Comics, which anchors Diamond's bookstore line (see 'Diamond Moves Into Bookstore Distribution').


The hiring of Liang and Hayes demonstrates that Diamond is very serious about extending its reach into the book market, and the fact that Liang will work out of New York and Hayes out of Cleveland is a clear sign of a new flexibility in corporate structure for the tightly controlled Baltimore-based operation.  For traditional pop culture retailers Diamond's move into the book trade may well mean some extra competition on some of the cooler collectible items, but it also represents an important outreach effort.  With the decline of the newsstand market, bookstores and libraries may well become the most important sources of new comic book readers.