D&D General Penguin Random House To Stop Distributing D&D [UPDATED!]

A memo which went out to retailers this week indicates that Penguin Random House will not be...

A memo which went out to retailers this week indicates that Penguin Random House will not be distributing Dungeons & Dragons products in mainstream bookstores from 2024.

Effective December 31, 2023, Penguin Random House LLC will cease distributing titles for Wizards of the Coast LLC. Depending on the product, please ensure that the vendor of record for Wizards of the Coast LLC titles is changed to one of their new distributors listed here: Distributors | WPN."

WotC uses a range of distributors, including Alliance, Diamond, GTS, and more in the US, and Asmodee and others in the UK and Europe. Most of these deal with hobby trade (game stores and the like) retailers, while Penguin Random House is a general book trade publisher. Of course, the game will still be available on Amazon, also.

This isn't brand new news--WotC announced this back at the beginning of September.

UPDATE--WotC spoke to ICv2:

Penguin Random House is a valued partner and publishing licensee of Wizards of the Coast. While we deeply appreciate the excellent service provided over the years by PRHPS, we are now shifting our distribution strategy to utilize the capabilities of Hasbro to sell and distribute D&D products to retailers, and we will continue to partner with PRH on licensed D&D titles like the recently released Lore & Legends and the upcoming Hero's Feast: Flavors of the Multiverse. This change to distribution of Wizards' D&D roleplaying game publications such as rulebooks and adventure content won't affect fans as they will continue to find Dungeons & Dragonsproducts at their preferred retailers.


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teitan

Legend
Sounds like you came in a few years after I got out in 2002-ish. At that point I could still get Alliance to try stocking stuff just by telling them we needed it for customers, but that was over with within 2-3 years according to my successor.

The "no core book restocks" thing has probably killed a lot of stores over the years. Sometimes it's the clueless owner, sometimes it's a publisher fail (remember when TSR went two years in the 90s without filling D&D core book orders reliably? I do), but these days it's more likely to be the distribution net dropping the ball.
Yeah that was the time frame and I remember it being a issue back to the 90s. It squelched a lot of hot games. I can remember the game store I frequented in the 90s having all these cool Deadlands books and yet they never got a core book in. The owner would just say "you can come in and learn to play on our Deadlands night" and I felt very off put by that. Sure, I can come in to play but I have no clue how to make a character or the mechanics. He could always get Castle Falkenstein in though!

The dry period in 2e was so crazy. I remember other books coming out but it was very much a "where are the core rules"? I had long before sold my 2e stuff and had gotten back into it after a year of so of VtM and recall seeing the PHB with the original cover with a $40 price tag in a used bookstore because they were all so hard to get. Crazy is in 2002 I could buy them on Ebay, along with 1e books, for pennies on the dollar and sell them in the store for $10-15.
 

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teitan

Legend
making an effort to know what games are actually active locally is important too. A game that sells a bunch of core books but doesn't establish a local player base isn't going to do great with its supplements in most cases.
We made sure that people had a place to play and based a lot of our ordering on that. WHat games they chose to run determined what we actually sold on the shelfs.
 

I can remember the game store I frequented in the 90s having all these cool Deadlands books and yet they never got a core book in. The owner would just say "you can come in and learn to play on our Deadlands night" and I felt very off put by that. Sure, I can come in to play but I have no clue how to make a character or the mechanics. He could always get Castle Falkenstein in though!
Well, Pinnacle was founded in 1994 and Deadlands was its first solo release in 1996, with a couple of earlier joint projects with Chameleon Eclectic before they closed down. By comparison, R. Talsorian had been around since 1985 (and Mekton even longer, the 1st edition was a small-press release by Pondsmith before the company even existed), and had just released Castle Falkenstein in 1994 so it was still fairly new. Distributors were familiar with R. Tal, much more so than Pinnacle at the time, so they probably ordered and re-ordered more often and in larger quantities on average.

Deadlands was a big success, but it would have taken a few years to really establish Pinnacle as a "safe" publisher to stock heavily at the distribution level - ironically, about the same time that R. Tal went on an eight year break from publishing in 1998 following some kerfuffle at GenCon I can barely remember hearing about through the grapevine. Still kind of convinced the timing on that really hurt Castle Falkenstein and Cyberpunk badly.

That said, I don't remember having any issue getting the core books for either in stock, and IIRC they also got sold through the book trade so you saw them in some big box and mall shops. That was still in the early stretch of my full-time game retail run though, so maybe my memory's betraying me. I'd done casual part-time work for a couple of other stores in the 80s but that was just counter monkey stuff, not ordering.
We made sure that people had a place to play and based a lot of our ordering on that. WHat games they chose to run determined what we actually sold on the shelfs.
Ideally that's how things should work in a good FLGS. Sometimes it's just not viable (rents can quash play space - which usually meant you should be looking to move someplace cheaper) and sometimes the owner and/or employees just don't care and only stick what they think is cool. And since COVID the idea of in-store play has become less of a universal expectation. Changing world...
 
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