Trial Period Has Ended: DC Comics Chooses Lunar for Comics Distribution

Today, reports began dripping out that comic retailers had received messages from DC Comics that it would be dropping UCS Comic Distributors (aka Midtown Comics), in favor of the other new distributor DC helped launch in April, Lunar Distribution (aka DCBS), as of product shipping January 1. The retailer letter, and a response sent to retailers by UCS, can be read here:

 

UCS will no longer be distributing DC Comics as of January 1st, 2021.  

In April, UCS Comic Distributors partnered with DC at a time when comic book distribution was on pause and the supply chain disrupted as a result of the safer-at-home orders that were put in place. We are very proud of the role we played in transitioning DC during this unprecedented time.    
 
The transition is now complete, and UCS is passing the baton to Lunar Distribution, who will handle all of DC Comics’ retail accounts as of January 1st.  Our relationship with DC Comics will continue on all other fronts. 
 
UCS will be transferring records of all unfilled FOC orders for items shipping January 2021 and beyond to Lunar to allow for a smooth transition for all accounts. Lunar will contact accounts over the next several weeks to confirm and finalize their information. Also please note, UCS will not be soliciting books as part of the November 2020 DC Connect catalogue.
 
Keep in mind:  

    • UCS is not closing. We will be offering other exciting items that stores can use!
    • 12/29/20 is last street date that we will deliver. 

Any inquiries regarding sign-ups, distribution and/or shipping contact: service@lunardistribution.com

If you have questions in regards to DC policies or general inquiries, please email: ComicShopQuestions@dcentertainment.com

It’s been a pleasure to get to know all of the retailers, and we look forward to continuing this wonderful relationship. 

Thank you,

UCS

 

 

DC announced it was starting to use the two distributors six months ago, and we’re only about three-and-a-half months into the program. Additionally, DC has decided to begin requiring a minimum order of $500 at full retail monthly, or $125 weekly, for new comics orders. 

 

Here is DC’s letter to retailers:

 

In April, UCS Comic Distributors and Lunar Distribution partnered with DC to transition to a multi-distributor model for the Direct Market, at a time when comic book distribution was on pause and the supply chain disrupted as a result of the safer-at-home orders that were put in place. We are now in our next phase where, as of January 1, 2021, DC publications will continue to be distributed in the Direct Market by Lunar Distribution, Diamond UK, and Penguin Random House (for graphic novels and collected editions only). UCS Comic Distributors will no longer distribute DC publications, but retailers can continue to order from UCS through the end of November.

We want to take this time to sincerely thank UCS for their help during this transition, and we will continue to provide all our support to UCS as retailers shift their accounts over to Lunar or other distributors.

Please Note: the last date to place FOC orders and reorders through UCS will be November 29, 2020. Any publication eligible for returnability must be returned to the distributor from which it was received by their returnability end dates; returns received after that end date cannot be accepted.

Additionally, DC is requiring that orders placed through Lunar Distribution total a minimum of $125 (USD) per weekly order based on retail sales value (cover price), or total $500 monthly. Orders that do not meet this amount will be held until further orders are added and the minimum is met, at which time the combined orders will be shipped. The minimum order requirement goes into effect with the December 6, 2020 FOC date. In order to help transition all accounts smoothly, information is below about how to sign up with Lunar Distribution. Should retail customers have any questions about transitioning to Lunar or another distributor, send an email to ComicShopQuestions@dcentertainment.com.

As always, DC remains committed to comics shops as the cornerstone of our industry. This community is the source of countless stories and relationships that inspire us and our fans every day. We thank you for your support, and we will continue to provide business updates as they happen.

Sincerely,

The DC Team

 

Some media outlets have jumped on the minimum order issue, noting that while that doesn’t sound like a lot, Diamond was servicing many game stores and hobby shops that carried comics as a sideline; there are also shops that specialize more in graphic novels and less in periodicals. 

 

However, the $500 per month is based on the SRP cost (suggested retail price), so ordering 125 books per month at $3.99, not to mention much of DC’s current line is cover-priced at $4.99, $6.99 or $9.99 will not be a hardship for viable shops. Our sources say this could potentially impact a handful of accounts, mostly ranging from ‘buying clubs’ to small shops that have a side wall of comics. But if that minimum order threshold is high enough to shutter any store, their days were limited.

 

Meanwhile, Lunar is still working hard to get those DC books out, and if they expect to remain effective at that task, they’ll need to be able to expand their staff and warehouse space, while building a strong, long term infrastructure that supports distribution at higher capacity. It’s no surprise that DCBS, or Lunar in this case, had an economic advantage over UCS in that Lunar is located in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and UCS is located  in New York where they’re having all kinds of problems, primarily economic, making it harder to operate. And with complaints about variant covers being held back, and other customer gripes, maybe UCS just didn’t meet the criteria DC set up from the beginning. Maybe the ‘trial period is over’ and only one domestic distributor remains (even though Diamond is still handling DC’s European distribution).

 

The real annoyance for some retailers is going to be having to switch distributors again, which is likely to further lower some the DC Comics cheerleading at those shops. Any shops that were already light on DC, could be pushed to stop carrying DC entirely. Will this impact DC’s sales dramatically? Is there any doubt that this news is going to affect the sales of Future State? Does this portend more evolvement of what DC Comics intends to be in 2021?

 

 

 

 

Chris Braly

I'm a collector, a speculator, and one opinionated, based geek. My friends call me Braly, but those who know me within the hobby generally refer to me as Bralinator. I can be heard monthly on the Comic Book Page Previews Spotlight podcast with several other comic book nerds. Follow me on Twitter @ChrisBraly

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