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Let's Play Monopoly

I was reading about the comics industry online when I came across an interesting story. Diamond Comics is the largest comics distributor in North America. They have exclusive distribution deals with the four major U.S. comics companies (Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, and Image), and as a result, most comic book stores are forced to deal with Diamond whether they want to or not. Basically, they have a monopoly on North American comics distribution.

In 1997, the Department of Justice started an antitrust investigation against them. The investigation ended in 2000 and Diamond suffered no consequences because although the investigation found that they do have a monopoly on comics distribution, they don't have a monopoly on the distribution of all books.

Personally, I think that decision is pretty lame, especially considering Diamond's policy toward newer comics. Basically they have what's called an "open-door policy" where artists can send in their work and if Diamond thinks it will be sufficiently profitable, they might distribute it. I see this as a problem for independent comics artists, especially those who have been excluded from the white, male dominated comics industry. With Diamond's control over comic book distribution, people representing subject matter outside of what is deemed "normal" or profitable by the company will have an incredibly difficult time getting their work out there. To me, this will just breed exclusion and stagnation in the comics world.

Here are two articles I found online, the first one for Diamond and the second one (mostly) against it:

http://www.sequart.com/columns/index.php?col=5&column=980

http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/panel/106673070654777.htm

What do you think?

I had no idea!

I have to agree with you that such a unilateral system is very likely to breed stagnation and exclusion. And I can't believe the DoJ let them get away with it just because they don't have a monopoly on *all* book distribution, that's such a cop out! Here's hoping that digital comic distribution will do something to unsettle their stranglehold on the industry!