What does Avatar's partnership with BOOM! mean?

201103231854 What does Avatar's partnership with BOOM! mean?
Now this is kind of interesting. Avatar, publisher of some of the greatest writers in comics, like Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, and so on, is switching distributors from Diamond to….BOOM!?

Wait, BOOM! is a distributor? Not really, but they have their own distributor deal with Simon & Schuster for the US and HarperCollins for Canada. Avatar will be tagging along on BOOM!’s truck route for a unique partnership.

We had the chance to chat informally with several Avatar personnel about this move at C2E2 — and it’s definitely a good one for them. Moore and (to a lesser extent) Ellis are perennial bookstore bestsellers, so being able to hop on that bandwagon should definitely help their trade program. Although not noted by anyone, really, Avatar significantly slowed their trade collection release schedule over the last few months; this deal enables them to get it going again.

Also, as we’ve seen before, when a comics publisher moves to a “real” book publisher, they have a bit of a transition to make from the wild and woolly world of comics to the “we must plan everything 8 months ahead” book world. BOOM! will be able to help Avatar get over that hump. Win/win!

Avatar’s director of sales Keith Davidsen had more to say about the move here, explaining that extremely extreme material like CROSSED (which features fetus eating and other fun stuff) will probably not be showing up at Barnes & Noble.
PR below:

For comic and graphic novel publishers, there are two different markets that we sell product to. Comic shops and independent novelty stores fall under the category of the “Direct Market” (also known as the “Hobby Market”). Nationwide booksellers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Indigo fall under the category of “Book Market” (or “Mass Market”). The Book Market can also include library organizations and the massive retail store chains like Wal-Mart and Target.

Up until this announcement, Avatar Press had been represented into both the Direct Market and the Book Market by Diamond. Diamond has two distribution divisions — Diamond Comics and Diamond Books — that target those respective markets individually. Avatar Press will continue to be distributed to the Direct Market by the “Diamond Comics” division.

In fact, Avatar’s commitment to Diamond Comics is 100% exclusive for the Direct Market. Our products will still be available to order by your comic shop retailers, both individual comics and our trade paperback / hardcover collections. We’re very happy with how Diamond sells us to that market; it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement.

The change here is only for the Book Market. Before, if Barnes & Noble wanted to purchase Avatar books, they’d have to buy from Diamond. Now, they have to buy from Simon & Schuster (in the US book market) or HarperCollins Canada (in the Canadian book market). Simon and Harper are massive organizations with far-reaching sales representation. Therefore, the new partnership with Boom has opened the doorway for making our products more accessible to the mainstream. It’s a really great move. We couldn’t ask for better business partners in the book market than Boom, Simon, and Harper — they’re solid.

As far as content goes… will we be seeing CROSSED on library shelves? Probably not. But we will see better representation of our more accessible titles, like Alan Moore’s WRITING FOR COMICS and Warren Ellis’ IGNITION CITY and FREAKANGELS, in libraries. The bookseller chains like Barnes & Noble and Borders will likely pick up a wider selection of Avatar than libraries, also. Again, perhaps not all content, but most. I hope that clears up a number of questions!

BOOM! Studios announced today that it has entered into an agreement with Avatar Press to distribute their graphic novels to the book trade.  This agreement will see BOOM! distributing Avatar in the United States via BOOM!’s existing relationship with Simon & Schuster and Canadian distribution through BOOM!’s existing relationship with HarperCollins Canada.

The new BOOM! Studios/Avatar mass market partnership sees two of the top ten Direct Market publishers teaming up for a unique relationship, extending both brands into the mass market.

“The Avatar library is an excellent compliment to the existing BOOM! list that doesn’t cannibalize our Studios and KABOOM! offerings, but rounds out what we are already doing,” said Founder and CEO of BOOM! Studios Ross Richie.  “Avatars’ CEO William Christensen is a brilliant businessman and has a proven track record of great Direct Market success.  Avatar has great growth potential in the mass market book trade, and we look forward to being an excellent partner in their continued expansion!”

”Distributing via BOOM!, Simon & Schuster, and HarperCollins Canada enables Avatar to bring its world-renowned, best-selling catalog of the biggest creators in the business to a wider audience,” said Avatar Press Publisher William Christensen. “Top talent like Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, and Garth Ennis continue to show sales growth and fan interest.”

Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins Canada begin distribution of Avatar Press’ eclectic line of independent graphic novels on March 21, 2011 and will also begin accepting returns as of that date. Diamond Book Distributors Inc. will continue to accept returns for all Avatar Press books up until March 20, 2011.

BOOM! Studios began distributing their original and licensed graphic novels through Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins Canada in July 2009.
Avatar Press is known for publishing such comic book luminaries as Alan Moore (NEONOMICON), Warren Ellis (FREAKANGELS, BLACK SUMMER), and Garth Ennis (CROSSED, CHRONICLES OF WORMWOOD), as well as New York Times bestselling author George R.R. Martin (FEVRE DREAM) and licensed comics based on George A. Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.

Simon & Schuster, a part of CBS Corporation, is a global leader in the field of general interest publishing, dedicated to providing the best in fiction and nonfiction for consumers of all ages, across all printed, electronic, and audio formats.  Its divisions include Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, Simon & Schuster Audio, Simon & Schuster Digital, and international companies in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.  For more information, please visit www.simonandschuster.com.

HarperCollins Canada publishes fiction, non-fiction, and books for children, as well as religious and reference books. HarperCollins imprints in Canada include HarperCollins, Harper Perennial, HarperTrophyCanada, Collins, and Phyllis Bruce Books. These imprints publish many of Canada’s finest writers, including Bonnie Burnard, Charlotte Gray, Lawrence Hill, Barbara Kingsolver and Kenneth Oppel as well as writers and leading authorities from Canada and around the world, such as Nick Cave, Tim Flannery, Theo Fleury, J.L. Granatstein, and General Rick Hillier. For more information, please visit http://www.harpercollins.ca.

Comments

  1. Sounds like a win-win. Congrats to all involved for coming up with unique solutions to difficult marketplace problems.

  2. Still don’t understand why Avatar’s deal is with Boom and not directly with Simon & Shuster/Harper, which leads me to wonder if this isn’t part of a larger partnership yet to be announced.

  3. Torsten Adair says:

    It does seem a bit hasty. Usually the announcement is made six months in advance, as seen with the recent Tokyopop move to Diamond Book. This allows warehouses, bookstores, and accountants time to balance inventories.

    This announcement was made three days after the date of change. The timing of this announcement does make me wonder. Since Avatar is still being distributed via Diamond Comics, I don’t think this is another “Checker” situation.

    It is possible that Boom! personnel which handle their bookstore distribution will also handle Avatar’s catalog as well, being the liaison with HarperCollins/Simon & Schuster, processing the accounting for a small fee. (In much the same way HarperCollins processes Scholastic’s distribution.)

    Both HC and S&S have good graphic novel lines, so I doubt these titles will be marginalized. Boom! still has the classic Disney titles to promote (and the Pixar backlist), plus the more “graphic novelly” titles which appeal to teens and adults. Avatar does have some impressive authors, so that will help some.

  4. As it happens, Avatar Press has been working behind the scenes with BOOM! Studios, Simon & Schuster, and HarperCollins over the past eight months (or thereabouts) to make the transition as smooth as possible.

    This announcement actually comes at a time when everybody is ready for the switch — we’ve been working for a very long time to get data fed into systems and inventory fed into warehouses. We’ve also been working hand-in-hand with our partners to launch with an enormously impressive Fall 2011 line — our first new releases through Simon and Harper will include some powerhouse titles.

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