Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but 20-year-old Diamond Comics' new book distribution arm, Diamond Book Distributors, is hoping to be that special someone for graphic novel and pop culture publishers looking for representation to the trade. "We're committed to the book market," said v-p of marketing Roger Fletcher. "We've been distributing graphic novels for Marvel Comics for the past year, so it's not a brand new undertaking for us." With five distribution centers in North America and one in the U.K., Diamond, according to Fletcher, is up to the challenge of getting books out fast. "We have the country well covered," he said, "so we can orchestrate a national release every Wednesday for comics. That should help us with books."

Since the beginning of May, Diamond Book has signed on a baker's dozen of publishers, many of which were previously with LPC. "We're looking to build a critical mass for the category of graphic novels," said Fletcher, adding that Diamond Book plans to issue a seasonal catalogue featuring graphic novels later this year. Among Diamond Book's most recent additions are Alternative Comics, which publishes Indy magazine; Archangel Studios, in Los Angeles, the creative force behind The Red Star; Antarctic Press in San Antonio, Tex., which helped popularize "Ameri-manga"; California's Astonish Comics, which publishes Mike Kunkel's Eisner Award nominee Herobear and the Kid; Avatar Press, which pushes the boundaries between mainstream and independent; ComicsOne, which brings Asian comic books and graphic novels to the U.S.; El Capitan, founded by crime-noir creator David Lapham; G.T. Labs in Ann Arbor, Mich., which produces high-quality comics fiction about science; Graphic-sha Publishing Co., which publishes the How to Draw Manga and How to Draw Anime & Game Characters series; Guardians of Order, a Canadian house that specializes in Japanese anime reference guides and cinematic role-playing games; IDW Publishing, San Diego, Calif., which does cutting-edge graphic novels, art books and comic books; Toyspress, which publishes The Five Star Stories series; and SQP, which publishes a mix of fantasy and erotica titles.