As had been widely reported on comic news sites, and now Newsarama, FM International appears to have closed down. FM being the last distributor to offer new comic books material to direct market comic shops, outside of Diamond.
I'd met Wayne, the owner/operator of FM at some cons, and was looking forward to working with him on Super Real, but as my book came out, their troubles escalated, and nothing ever happened with them.
I've heard talk of various other services that exist, but really only ever heard of FM and COLD CUT as actually doing any real kind of business (outside of Diamond) to the direct market.
I recently, a bit late, sent a pack of books to Cold Cut to potentially set up distribution with them, they offer books that have already been released to their accounts, but I've not heard back from them.
Two groups or services come to mind, as potential new distribution into the DM:
1) Self Publishers Association - they've built, worked on, or been working on a catalog/system to offer product to direct market accounts, but in the going on 3 years I've been aware of them, it's an endless cycle of rebuilding/retooling.
2) ComiXpress and/or Ka-Blam - Both are print on demand (POD) services that offer either stores, or talk of models of distribution in their future. Recently, Ka-Blam was created, and has driven the costs of POD down. Perhaps POD can keep improving and becoming more cost effective, giving it a real shot at a new distribution model into shops. It really needs to develop either a broad and strong list of products to offer shops, or a big title to force retailers to use them though, to have any real chance at making an impact. At this point, they're really just a means for web creators to get in print, or aspiring creators to generate con or online sales.
Hmmm, perhaps one of these POD services would be interested in printing a fully distributed book, along with prominent ads for their service, as a loss-leader to attract more sales (from both creators, and retailers)??