by BK Munn
Toronto comics retailer Kevin Boyd (The Comic Book Lounge) recently posted on Facebook about the availability of This One Summer, the graphic novel that just won the $25,000 Governor General’s prize for cartoonist Jillian Tamaki, as we reported on Tuesday. The book is published in Toronto by Groundwood Books and distributed by HarperCollins Canada (which is currently closing its Scarborough warehouse and moving distribution to the U.S.). I’ve asked Kevin for permission to reproduce his thoughts here on Sequential because I think conversations about comics distribution in Canada are newsworthy. More than anything, I think the fact that Canadian comic shops can’t order the book through Diamond Distributors highlights the fact of how dangerously dependent most comic shops are on a single distributor model. The book is available through regular bookstores and certain comic shops like The Beguiling and Lucky’s in Vancouver who have a more diversified business model.
Here’s what Kevin has to say:
“It’s not been widely reported, but distribution issues have, since it’s release last May, prevented Canadian comic book retailers from carrying the Governor-General Award-winning graphic novel This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki.
The book is published in the United States and abroad by American publisher First Second Books, and in Canada by Groundwood Books, First Second has the book distributed to Canadian specialty shops by Diamond Comic Distributors, while Groundwood does not.
Last winter, Diamond solicited the book, and upon it’s release last May, in conjunction with the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, some Canadian comic book retailers received First Second published editions. However, shortly afterwards the entry on the distributors website changed to “N/A Canada” and has not been available to Canadian comic book specialty shops to order since. This has been of some frustration to customers and retailers alike as the book has been favourably reviewed and people have been actively looking for it.
In May, I happened upon the Groundwood table at TCAF and commended them on the book, and they seemed visibly distressed and asked how I had received copies. It was explained to me at the time that Groundwood’s edition was to be the only edition available in Canada and had no arrangement with Diamond to distribute the book to Canadian stores, and that they were not supposed to be selling us the U.S. publisher’s edition. I was under the impression that they would be contacting Diamond and sure enough, it was right after TCAF that the entry changed.
So while American specialty shop retailers can order and sell the book, Canadian retailers cannot (at least through Diamond). So if you are a Canadian retailer or have tried to buy a copy from one, this is why you’ve come up against a wall.
That’s not to say some retailers haven’t proactively made arrangements through other avenues to procure the book, including directly from Groundwood. Reality is, with books in and out every week, most comic shops have their hands full and don’t deal with multiple book distributors so customers have been referred to alternate venues.”