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 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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Random House doesn’t just distribute D&D books—they also publish them. Novels, that is: the current Dragonlance trilogy as well as the movie tie-in novels were all published by Random House.

That publishing deal is probably based on a totally different contract than the distribution deal. But if Random House is getting out of the D&D business, I would assume they might be finished publishing new D&D novels too.
 

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Hussar

Legend
Nah. Apparently it's better to snark on anyone even remotely entertaining the idea that WotC might be making a mistake.:

I said something snarky? Really. Pointing out facts is snark now? Who knew? I mean it was pointed out repeatedly that there are multiple distributors through which Hasnro could go in order to get into the box stores. Not using one distributor is not likely to result in millions of dollars in losses.

I guess it might. But then again, I guess I’m just missing the trees? Funny how none of those mistakes you list actually had any real effect except maybe 4e. Almost as if people are just dying to claim that WotC is failing yet again.

Is it 2004 again already?

I’ve been hearing the same refrain over and over and over again. And it’s never actually true. I suppose if you declare doom often enough you’ll be eventually right.
 

SteveC

Doing the best imitation of myself
This is some really interesting stuff. I don't know what's going on in the background, but on the surface, this really sounds like a bad idea. It's as if someone at WotC thinks that they can do what Penguin/Random House does cheaper. That's unlikely at best. Let me explain a little: when I am not in the RPG world, I do some editing and general work for someone who writes and has their own writing career. I've worked with him and other associates for over 20 years. Getting meetings with Random House for distribution was a dream for them because that gets their books anywhere in the world. Random House knows their ... stuff ... and has been doing this for a very long time. They have people who can go into pretty much everywhere in the world and get products in there because they have the connections.

I don't know what the expectations were about this but in my (limited) experience, this is not a relationship you would want to throw out. It seems like a decision from someone who doesn't have experience in this part of the business world. Everything I've seen about WotC management is about video games and online distribution. That is not the world of books at all. And if you want to get out of physical publishing and just go online (hey, that's the theory, right?) , this is sort of burning the ships to the old world. It is a lot harder to get back into this business than to stay and just reduce your stakes with it.

Importantly, I don't know the whole situation, so what's happening may actually be radically different than how I'm interpreting it. So take what I'm saying with a big grain of salt. I just think if you look at Diamond distribution over Random House/Penguin ... there is no comparison.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I said something snarky? Really. Pointing out facts is snark now? Who knew? I mean it was pointed out repeatedly that there are multiple distributors through which Hasnro could go in order to get into the box stores. Not using one distributor is not likely to result in millions of dollars in losses.
You call this post "pointing out facts"? Really? Which part of it is factual, the "sky falling" or the "iceberg of collapse"? Because it looks to me like a mean-spirited take on other people having a different opinion than you.
I guess it might. But then again, I guess I’m just missing the trees? Funny how none of those mistakes you list actually had any real effect except maybe 4e. Almost as if people are just dying to claim that WotC is failing yet again.
No real effect? So putting the 5.1 SRD into Creative Commons, Pathfinder moving to its ORC license, Kobold Press's Tales of the Valiant, none of those had any effect? Wow, who knew that none of those things mattered! Or is it just that they didn't matter to you, and you're treating your opinion as if it were a fact?
Is it 2004 again already?
I honestly don't know what this means, except that it seems to be more snark rather than substance.
I’ve been hearing the same refrain over and over and over again. And it’s never actually true. I suppose if you declare doom often enough you’ll be eventually right.
This has been your refrain for a very long time now: bemoaning how awful it is that you've had to listen to people say things you don't like and disagree with. At least people trying to figure out what the news means are adding to the discussion, rather than lamenting that there's a discussion at all.
 


mykesfree

Explorer
This is some really interesting stuff. I don't know what's going on in the background, but on the surface, this really sounds like a bad idea. It's as if someone at WotC thinks that they can do what Penguin/Random House does cheaper. That's unlikely at best. Let me explain a little: when I am not in the RPG world, I do some editing and general work for someone who writes and has their own writing career. I've worked with him and other associates for over 20 years. Getting meetings with Random House for distribution was a dream for them because that gets their books anywhere in the world. Random House knows their ... stuff ... and has been doing this for a very long time. They have people who can go into pretty much everywhere in the world and get products in there because they have the connections.

I don't know what the expectations were about this but in my (limited) experience, this is not a relationship you would want to throw out. It seems like a decision from someone who doesn't have experience in this part of the business world. Everything I've seen about WotC management is about video games and online distribution. That is not the world of books at all. And if you want to get out of physical publishing and just go online (hey, that's the theory, right?) , this is sort of burning the ships to the old world. It is a lot harder to get back into this business than to stay and just reduce your stakes with it.

Importantly, I don't know the whole situation, so what's happening may actually be radically different than how I'm interpreting it. So take what I'm saying with a big grain of salt. I just think if you look at Diamond distribution over Random House/Penguin ... there is no comparison.
You can do it cheaper if Hasbro already has business relationships with all the major retailers. Also, we need to see if WotC will be reclassifying D&D from a Book product to a Toy product. if that happens then Hasbro reps will be selling the products to the Big Box accounts which will allow Hasbro greater control to create promotions with those retailers. For example, a Target or Walmart advertising campaign or an entire store section dedicated to D&D.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
This has been your refrain for a very long time now:

Mod Note:
Please don't make this personal.

If you find a poster's repeated posts to be snarky, or materially lacking, then by all means, don't engage with them. Use the ignore list, if you wish. But please don't make it into a public argument about the people, rather than what they say.


...bemoaning how awful it is that you've had to listen to people say things you don't like and disagree with....

Is exactly what your post is doing, too, so....

Everyone will want to turn their harsh or personal rhetoric dials down if they want to remain in this discussion.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
"I don't really know much about book distribution, but I'll take a change in distribution as a sign of an error," probably ought to be viewed rather skeptically, though.
Taken in isolation, sure. But when a series of gaffes happen in relatively quick succession, "here we go again" isn't exactly an unreasonable reaction when a company dissociates themselves from WotC. It might not be the correct interpretation of the facts, but it's certainly an understandable one.
 

caveat I've no special knowledge of book publishing or game distribution, and the following is hearsay.

I saw some other reporting on this topic (iO9, I think) that suggested the issue to be concerned about wasn't access through distribution -- there are plenty of channels -- but that the Penguin channel was a better deal for retailers than other channels. Game distributors apparently take up more of the total of the retail price than book distributors.
 


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