In response to the widespread closure of comics shops and distribution centers due to the new coronavirus pandemic, Diamond Comic Distributors, the largest distributor of comics in North America, will cease the delivery of weekly published comics until further notice.

Diamond Comic Distributors founder and CEO Steve Geppi said Diamond will stop the delivery of new comics with a release date of April 1 or later, but will continue to fulfill certain orders from publications already in its warehouses.

Comics with an on-sale date of March 25 or later distributed in Britain by Diamond UK will also not be shipped until further notice. In addition, Alliance Game Distributors, a Diamond gaming distribution subsidiary, will close its Fort Wayne, Ind. and Austin, Tex. warehouses on March 24 and will cease shipping at the end of the day until further notice.

“For the time being,” Geppi said, “we have been able to develop procedures with our teams at the distribution center in Olive Branch, Miss. to safely continue fulfillment of direct ship reorders for the retailers who are able to receive new product and need it to service their customers.” He cautioned “these plans are subject to change if at any point we no longer feel that we can safeguard our teams while fulfilling orders.”

Geppi cited the “ever-increasing challenges related to the Covid-19 pandemic,” for the shutdown.

“We are hearing from thousands of retailers that they can no longer service their customers as they have in the past, many of them forced to close by government action or resort to in-person or curbside delivery,” he said. “Even those still open are seeing reduced foot traffic in most cases, a situation that seems likely to worsen with time.”

Diamond Comic Distributors is the principal distributor of comics to a network of about 2,000 independent comics shops in North America that buy their stock mostly nonreturnable at wholesale prices. These stores sell a mix of traditional American comic books (generally superhero comics) as well as graphic novels and prose books, though their product mix has been changing with the growth in popularity of book-format comics.

Geppi said ”we have been and will continue looking toward the future, when we see stores reopening, bringing staff back on board, and getting customers in the door.” He added that “we will work with our publishing partners to develop programs that will address product already in the pipeline and what will happen when we resume distribution. We know that during this time you will face many challenges, and we will direct our energies toward addressing them, rather than fighting on increasingly numerous fronts to get product out.”