Harlequin will be taking over the reins of the marketing and distribution of its translated manga adaptations, according to an article over at ICv2. Dark Horse will continue to oversee production, but Harlequin will handle getting it into bookstores.
“The Harlequin sales force has demonstrated a great ability to place books in multiple channels including mass-market retailers and grocery stores as well as bookstores. Harlequin does not plan to distribute to comic shops via Diamond Comic Distributors, although interested retailers will be able to order directly from the publisher.”
I can’t say I find this particularly surprising. Dark Horse does a nice job with production, but the Harlequin books have always seemed like a particularly odd fit with the rest of Dark Horse’s line. (Zombies! Samurai! Assassins! Zombie samurai assassins!) And comic shops don’t seem like the best venue for them.
In part, it’s consistent with the trend of manga publishers linking up with prose publishing giants to get product into mainstream outlets. It also seems partly like a case of two parties admitting that an experiment wasn’t having quite the desired outcome and making corrections. Harlequin is obviously better positioned to get their books in the places where they’ll move, leaving Dark Horse to handle the portion of the equation that plays to their strengths.