The direct market is the dominant distribution and retail network for North American comic books. It consists of one dominant distributor and the majority of comics specialty stores, as well as other retailers of comic books and related merchandise. The name is no longer a fully accurate description of the model by which it operates, but derives from its original implementation: retailers bypassing existing distributors to make "direct" purchases from publishers. The defining characteristic of the direct market is non-returnability: unlike bookstore and newsstand distribution, direct-market distribution prohibits distributors and retailers from returning their unsold merchandise for refunds. The evolution of the comic book specialty shop (or "direct-only stores") in the early 1970s created a whole new system for delivering comics to customers. Before the advent of the comics retailer, most comics were found in grocery, drug, and toy stores.
Contributions by Stoshmaster, James Friel, and 126.96.36.199.