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Penguin Random House becomes Marvel's exclusive book market distributor in 2023

GamesRadar logo GamesRadar 6/8/2022 Michael Doran
Marvel and Penguin Random House © Provided by GamesRadar Marvel and Penguin Random House

A little more than a year after shocking the comic book community by leaving Diamond Comic Distributors for Penguin Random House Publisher Services (PRHPS) in the comic book Direct Market of specialty comics shops (see below), Marvel and PRHPS have announced all of Marvel's newly published and backlist editions and graphic novels will be distributed exclusively to Book Market retailers by PRHPS beginning April 1, 2023.

The deal is described as an "exclusive worldwide multi-year sales and distribution agreement."

Marvel's Book Market distribution is currently handled by Hachette Book Group, which will continue to distribute Marvel titles until April 2023. 

Original story follows...

Marvel Comics has found a new distributor to get its comics into comic shops: Penguin Random House.

Marvel has entered into an exclusive multi-year deal with Penguin Random House's distribution arm to deliver its comic books, trade collections, and graphic novels to the comic shop market (the Direct Market) beginning on October 1.

"After a thorough analysis of the market environment, Marvel has chosen Penguin Random House Publisher Services (PRHPS) as its distribution partner to create a sustainable, productive supply chain and enhanced infrastructure for Marvel publications that will benefit comics retailers and fans alike for years to come," reads Marvel's announcement. "Penguin Random House is known for its state-of-the-art multi-ranging services that enable independent booksellers to increase efficiency and profitability."

What does this mean for Marvel's longstanding Direct Market distributor Diamond, which it had been exclusive with since 1997? Direct Market retailers can still order their Marvel comics through Diamond, although Diamond would be acting as a wholesaler to the Direct Market, ordering Marvel products through PRHPS.

From 1997 to 2020, Diamond Comic Distributors has been the primary (and nigh-exclusive) regular distributor of comic books to comic shops. After a COVID-19 led shutdown of their distribution in March 2020, DC broke away from Diamond and partnered with new distributors for comic shops.

"Comics are the core of the Marvel Universe, and we are confident this new partnership will continue to grow and evolve this resilient industry," Marvel Entertainment president Dan Buckley says in the announcement. "We look forward to advancing our capabilities with PRHPS to serve our fans and the Direct Market," Buckley says. "We thank Diamond for their many years of support and partnership as we continue our relationship with them in other areas."

Marvel will continue to partner with Hachette Book Group for distribution of its trade collections and graphic novels to the booktrade market.

"Marvel's entire history is built on telling great stories. And as we've seen for decades, those stories go hand in hand with equipping the comic shops who share them. Marvel and Penguin Random House stand by that vision, and we are excited to build and expand those opportunities for our talent, retailers, and fans," says Buckley.

PRHPS already distributes comics to the booktrade, but this would be their first major foray into the Direct Market. Their booktrade client list includes DC, Archie Comics, IDW Publishing, Dark Horse Comics, and Kodansha Comics. It's possible those booktrade clients of PRHPS could consider using it for the Direct Market as it enters this new arena.

"This is an exciting time for comics, and we're thrilled to partner with Marvel in taking the next steps to support the growth of the marketplace, together with our Direct Market retail partners," says PRHPS's president Jeff Abraham. "Based on the foundation of our relationships with physical retailers, we're confident in the significant growth of the comic book industry and welcome the opportunity to further collaborate with and invest PRHPS' resources in the Direct Market. 

"Combining the standard-setting supply chain and sales capabilities of PRH with Marvel's renowned universe of stories and characters, we expect to reach even more fans of its artists and writers throughout the world."

Unlike DC when it similarly switched distribution partners in 2020, Marvel is sticking to its usual Wednesday release date.

Marvel's first releases for PRHPS will be solicited for order starting May 26.

Marvel's digital distribution appears unchanged. Check out our list of the best digital comics readers for Android and iOS devices.

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