In a move that highlights the growth in importance of graphic novels to traditional comics publishers, Stephanie Fierman, newly appointed senior v-p of sales and marketing at DC Comics, has combined DC Comics' sales and marketing staffs for the direct market and the bookstore market into a single sales team. Fierman also announced that DC Comics is starting a separate marketing department and searching for someone to direct it.

Under the combined sales unit, Rich Johnson, who directs bookstore sales, will report to Bob Wayne, who will manage sales to both markets. Combining the sales team is a significant change in how DC Comics views the retail market for its comics. The change puts the bookstore market on an equal footing with the direct market.

Fierman told PW the reorganization was intended to "integrate specialty stores and bookstores in one division and give the company better strategies across all channels." She was quick to emphasize that the "specialty market is the cornerstone of our business." But Fierman also noted that DC Comics is planning to release a record number of frontlist book titles in 2005. "The industry is changing," Fierman said, and graphic novels are "bringing readers to the genre that have different shopping habits."

"We want to support the book market, eliminate any conflict between the channels and have one voice for all our products," said Fierman.