Dirk Deppey (under the Comics Retailing section) takes apart a retailer complaining that Viz is sending exclusive merchandise to Hot Topic and Borders.
From day one, the vast majority of comics shops in the Direct Market treated manga publishers the same way they’ve always treated any other publisher selling material not prominently featuring Batman and Wolverine: They either stocked a small representative selection or ignored said publisher completely. Viz is dealing with the retail outlets that made the manga industry what it is today, and the Direct Market isn’t it.
Dirk’s right. It’s one thing for a company dependent on comic shops (like Marvel) to undercut a key market partner (although no one seems to have been hurt too much by the Barnes & Noble-exclusive softcover Archives or Ultimate Spider-Man omnibus). But why should Viz care about comic shops when a good portion of the direct market doesn’t even stock their product?
(Not to mention that you deal with one corporate office at Borders and get coverage in thousands of stores. To deal with the direct market, you have to deal with 3000 or so distinct individuals, few of whom agree on anything.)
If you want someone to treat you special, you can’t demand it… you have to show them how you need each other and how you can both benefit.
Update: Dirk reprints comments from Simon Jones (again under the Comics Retailing section — what about anchor links, Dirk?) that make a good point — the retailers saying that they deserve preferential treatment simply because they sell comics, regardless of their size, are often the same retailers who use size as a factor in determining what they carry, paying a lot more attention to bigger publishers.