I forgot to mention this last week...
Periodically, I'll ask my Local Comic Shop to order various trade paperbacks for me. Sometimes new, sometimes a little older. Sometimes they're pre-orders for stuff that's not out yet. I generally try to batch my requests together to make it a little easier for them, and I write down as much information about the books as I can since many of them are relatively obscure works from smaller publishers.
A few months back, I made such a request. Included on the list were Batman Chronicles vol. 3 and 4, Dr. 13, Walk In, Agnes Quill, Necronauts and Nothing Better. At the time, about half of the books hadn't been released yet. The week after I made the request, I stopped back in the shop to pick up my new stuff and the owner specifically mentioned that he put the order in but that Diamond wasn't sure if they could get one or two of the oldest books. Given the age and publishers behind some of them, that didn't entirely surprise me and when I stumbled across a copy of Agnes Quill in Half Price Books, I snatched it up.
But when I went into my LCS last week, there was my usual assortment of new pamphlet titles, plus a note that six of my TPBs had come in. There were enough of them, that they wouldn't fit in with the normal file area, so they had to store them under the counter for me. Included in the batch of books were Batman Chronicles (both volumes), Dr. 13, Walk In, Agnes Quill and Nothing Better. For the record, these books were originally released on May 9, October 4, September 19, July 18, October 18 of last year, and August 29 respectively. And even though many of them were ordered well in advance of those release dates, Diamond did not ship them until last week. Now I can understand that it might take a while to get new copies of books that had been already released -- in this case Batman Chronicles Vol. 3 and Agnes Quill. And I can almost see that my order for Walk In was a little too close to it's publication that that might've caused problems. But why in the world would you hold a guaranteed sale for up to two and a half months after it's publication before delivering it to a location that you're making deliveries to on a weekly basis? It's not like the shop is insanely remote or something -- they get new deliveries from Diamond every week!
Am I upset with my LCS? Absolutely not. He placed the order with his distributor promptly, and confirmed that to me with additional information shortly after making the order. At that point, he's done his job and is dependent on others. But I simply can't fathom why it would take Diamond that long to ship books out to a customer that they clearly had on hand. I'd seen online reviews of all these books, so I know somebody was getting copies.
The only explanation I can realistically think of is that Diamond has some hugely inefficient practices in place when it comes to non-pamphlet sales. And the only way a business can get away with that is if they have an effective monopoly on the market. If they didn't, their clients would head off to another distributor that was able to either provide better service or had a more efficient process which would lead towards lower prices. Running a business like Diamond seems to be doing is simply untenable unless there's no competition to worry about.
If it weren't for the fact that I want to see my LCS (and, indeed, all LCSes that are even half-way decent) succeed, I'd switch over to getting my books exclusively from larger chain bookstores that have a seemingly better distribution set-up with comic book publishers.