In a reversal of a multi-decade policy, Diamond Comic Distributors has partnered with Premier publishers and Diamond Select Toys to offer retailers incentives for wholesaling comics to “complementary” businesses using one of its 44-Pocket Comic Spinner racks.  Diamond has historically prohibited its wholesale customers from re-selling comics to other retailers.

The 44-Pocket Comic Spinner Racks have been available to Diamond customers for $299 since March, and are delivered for free in the continental United States.  The new “Pop Up A Spinner Rack” program encourages retailers to purchase a rack and place it with a complementary business near their store where customers may also purchase comics.  “The book, record, toy, or game store around the corner, the hospital gift shop down the street, drug stores, convenience stores, movie theaters, you name it,” said Mike Schimmel, Diamond Executive Director of Sales.  “Since there really are comic books for everyone, there are lots of possibilities, and each retailer will know best what might work in their communities.”

After retailers reach a signed agreement with another business to allow them to place and maintain a comics spinner rack in their store for a minimum six-month period, they can turn in a copy of the agreement to Diamond.  Then, participating publishers with provided limited edition variants and free goods to the comic retailer to offset the costs incurred in procuring the rack (see list below).

“We’ve provided a couple of templates that retailers can adapt as they see fit, said Schimmel.  “The program is also flexible in that there are no requirements in terms of the titles or quantities retailers put on the racks.”  The retail agreements can be structured however the two parties choose, including a buy-sell or consignment basis with quantities, margin splits, or payment terms.”

While the goals of this program are noble, the economics are daunting.  Comic sales in non-core outlets are unpredictable, making the risk of unsold inventory high. When comics for the non-core outlet are purchased non-returnable, especially at a retailer discount, the curation has to be flawless for the program to be successful, especially when the soft costs like labor are included.  That’s true whether the risk is borne by the Diamond customer or the “complementary” retailer.  Even where the supply chain is fully returnable, including at the wholesale level (i.e., back to the publishers), it’s tough to make money, as witnessed by the small and shrinking number of non-core stores (almost all bookstores) that sell comics.

There’s always the possibility that a new successful model for periodical comic sales in non-core outlets will emerge, but it would run counter to trends that have been visible in the periodical comics market for decades. We’re more optimistic about the outcomes if the spinners are used for sampling, promotions, and graphic novel sales, which it sounds like the Diamond program is flexible enough to accommodate.

Limited edition variants and free goods include:

DC Comics:  MAY178593 Dark Nights Metal #1 B&W Midnight Release Var B plus a second limited edition comic TBD at time of redemption

Marvel Comics:  A 1 in 1000 Variant Comic TBD at time of redemption

Image Comics:  Retailer's choice of 50 in-stock Image Firsts, plus a 2017 Retailer Appreciation Variant (while supplies last).

Dark Horse Comics:  JUL168360 Legend of Zelda Art & Artifacts HC & JAN080090 Hellboy TP Vol 08 Darkness Calls

IDW Publishing:  SEP170487 TMNT/Ghostbusters II #1 INCV

Dynamite Entertainment:  A high perceived retail value item TBD at time of redemption

BOOM! Studios:  CGC Books & assorted limited edition Incentives TBD at time of redemption

Diamond Select Toys:  Retailer’s choice of one in-stock Gallery PVC Figure