The coronavirus has brought the comic business to a screeching halt and DC is taking steps to ease the pain of direct-market retailers taking a hit.
The publisher stated in a letter to retailers Saturday saying they are going to pursue alternative distribution and, more importantly, books and periodicals will be returnable going forward.
The letter reads “books with in-store dates between March 18 and June 24 will be fully returnable.” DC offers to shoulder the burden of shipping costs, adding they are “exploring a multi-distributor model to provide us with the flexibility” to get content to readers, making it sound as if they have long term goals to expand print distribution.
More details are promised as things go along but below is DC Comics’ statement to comic retailers in full:
Competing publishers have either also issued statements or spoken with the press. Image, Dark Horse, and IDW spokespeople told THR they’d withhold digital releases until the print copies are back on shelves.
As strange as that sounds, there is a profit motive behind it. According to 2018 numbers, brick-and-mortar stores sell five times as much as digital comic sales ($516 million versus $100 million).
Noticing that business will take a hit, the big publishers and smaller independents like Alterna engaged buyback programs while Lion Forge and Mad Cave Studios started support funds to aid retailers.
Diamond Comic Distributors created a freeze in the print market when it announced they will not be shipping new inventory to comic shops for what could be a long while due to the pandemic.
In some cases, as with Dark Horse, print and digital sales of single issues were suspended but releases of original graphic novels, collections, and art books are to continue, according to Newsarama. However, these are through book trade distributors.
DC’s OGN Gotham High is slated to be out in April through Penguin Random House. They haven’t gone public with their plans for single-issue releases, and neither has Marvel, so far.