Diamond has officially announced that they will cease comic book distribution to stores due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is an enormous blow to the direct market and will more than likely hit comic book fans hard. Diamond is the largest distributor of comics in North America, including exclusive arrangements with Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Dark Horse, IDW, Image and more. However, the news is not entirely shocking as more and more businesses take a hit from the pandemic.
Diamond will be shut down for the foreseeable future and they do not have a date when they'll return. The company has announced they will continue to ship what is currently in its warehouse, but they will not accept any new upcoming orders. No new comic books will be available in stores after this week, which will be crippling to any brick and mortar stores struggling to stay alive with curbside delivery and other methods. Steve Geppi, Chairman & CEO of Geppi Family Enterprises and Founder of Diamond Comic Distributors had this to say in a statement.
"As everyone knows, the world faces ever-increasing challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Its effects on the comics & collectibles and tabletop gaming industries have been felt far and wide. We are hearing from thousands of retailers that they can no longer service their customers as they have in the past, many of them forced to close by government action or resort to in-person or curbside delivery. Even those still open are seeing reduced foot traffic in most cases, a situation that seems likely to worsen with time.
Our publishing partners are also faced with numerous issues in their supply chain, working with creators, printers, and increasing uncertainty when it comes to the production and delivery of products for us to distribute. Our freight networks are feeling the strain and are already experiencing delays, while our distribution centers in New York, California, and Pennsylvania were all closed late last week.
Our own home office in Maryland instituted a work from home policy, and experts say that we can expect further closures. Therefore, my only logical conclusion is to cease the distribution of new weekly product until there is greater clarity on the progress made toward stemming the spread of this disease."
Product distributed by Diamond and slated for an on-sale date of April 1st or later will not be shipped to retailers until things start to change with the coronavirus pandemic. And for now, it looks like things will probably get worse before they get any better, unfortunately. While comic book stores provide a great deal of entertainment, which we all need at this time, they are not considered to be an essential business.
With that being said, some comic book stores across North America have been able to remain open, but not letting patrons into the store. This is similar to what the restaurant business has been doing with varying degrees of success. The whole goal is to try and keep people working, but there is only so long that this can last if things keep going how they're going. Hopefully the small businesses will be able to catch breaks on rent to stay on their feet when all of the dust settles.
While this is certainly bad news, it seems that the digital realm will be the place for comic book fans to get new stories for the time being. For now, it seems that may even Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Dark Horse, IDW, Image and more will halt their own productions for the time being. We'll just have to wait and see how everything works out. You can read the Diamond statement in full over at the official Diamond Comics website.