Specifics on Diamond’s Street Date Program

Details have now been released about Diamond’s Tuesday delivery plan. As announced last month, Diamond Comic Distributors will be implementing street dates starting January 11, 2011. (Only, in the backwards logic that so often affects the industry, they’re calling it “day-early delivery”.)

Heidi has posted details that Diamond made available to retailers. Key points:

* Participating retailers will receive comics on Tuesday, January 11, for sale on Wednesday, January 12. Retailers must opt-in by October 25, or three weeks from now. (Will they be able to change their mind later, either to opt-in or opt-out?)

* Participating retailers will be charged $4 a week for the privilege of running their store the way every other media business has for years.

* This fee will “fund the industry compliance fund”. Let’s see, everyone assumes that there are about 3,000 direct market stores. Let’s assume that half of them participate (although I would assume that rates would be much higher, but there can be a good deal of inertia in the industry causing resistance to change). So Diamond has now found a way to take in an extra $6,000 a week, or over $300,000 a year. That’s an awful lot of compliance to fund!

* The penalties are fairly weak. First, Diamond will have to confirm a street date violation. Once they do, anyone caught will be moved back to same-day delivery for a month. (So the penalty for selling comics early is being moved to selling them on time.) Second violation? Three months. More than two? “Indefinite loss of Day-Early Delivery.” If they were serious, they’d bump violators to late delivery, so that they got their comics on Thursday. But that would be a lot of trouble for Diamond to manage. More on how that will be managed:

Diamond will use the fee to contract with a third party provider … to proactively visit stores on a rotating basis on the day before new release day to ensure compliance. We would also convey any specific complaints to this company to investigate and communicate the results of the investigation to those involved.
 We are also creating a dedicated email address and complaint form template that retailers can use to report suspected release day violations.

They do hint towards the possibility of lower fees, but I’m not optimistic. There’s every possibility they’ll go up instead:

We will report fees collected and expenses incurred from the program at the end of each year, and if there are any excess fee collections over expenses incurred, that excess will be applied toward lowering the monitoring fee the following year, or toward the promotion of Free Comic Book Day or the Comic Book Locator Service. Diamond also reserves the right to increase the weekly fee if necessary to cover the costs of the program.

On the one hand, I’m thrilled for retailers who have the extra time they so badly needed to prepare for sales to customers. They can familiarize themselves with the product so they can better suggest to shoppers what they might like. On the other hand, that they have to pay for this basic distribution service is another sign that comics is like no other business.

5 Responses to “Specifics on Diamond’s Street Date Program”

  1. James Schee Says:

    Hmm… does doing the shipping a day early cost Diamond anything? If not, I don’t see how they can charge for a pretty much bogus compliance fund.

    Exactly what is the fund for doing? Having a Diamond rep walk into a shop in NY, LA or San Diego? Because you know they aren’t going to Nowhereville, Indiana to check. The only real policing thing for this is other retailers in the area. Or giving fans an incentive to turn a retailer in one. (which would go over OH so well I bet)

  2. SKFK Says:

    Uh, James, the answers to your questions are quoted in Johanna’s post itself.

  3. Johanna Says:

    Actually, I didn’t mention the Diamond costs. They did say that the earlier release may cost them more, since they have to pay people to work weekends.

  4. Kat Kan Says:

    At least one of my local retailers says he won’t opt in – he doesn’t see that he’s getting much of a benefit for an extra cost. He’s a small retailer, and even $4 a week makes a difference when you add it up. A lot of us who are his regular pull customers don’t always show up on Wednesdays anyway. I haven’t had a chance to discuss this with my other local retailer.

  5. Johanna Says:

    Interesting. That would be the first I’ve heard of someone who doesn’t find it a benefit. I hope Diamond releases some details of the program later, such as percentage of retailers who are participating.




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