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March 2016 Comics Sales Estimates online; Batman tops 163k copies, Walking Dead Vol. 25 sells 19k

Monday, April 11, 2016

by John Jackson Miller

http://bit.ly/CCBat50
The full report on North American comics shop orders in the month of March has been reported by Diamond Comic Distributors, and as reported here on Friday, a very strong month for graphic novel orders was enough to erase the shortfall during the first two months of the year. The first quarter ended up 1.32%, with the graphic novel portion up 12.67%. Click to see the sales estimates for comics ordered in March 2016.

Batman #50, priced at  $5.99 price, led the comics chart with orders topping 163,000 copies, followed by Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #1 with nearly 120,000 copies shipped. Many variant covers helped the Boom Studios release, and while there were launch parties that provided a number of free copies to retailers, judging from the quantity/dollar ranking split those copies do not appear to have impacted the title's final placement in the charts.

Meanwhile, Walking Dead Vol. 25 topped the graphic novel list in its debut month with more than 19,000 copies shipped to retailers. The performance of top-sellers and a significant number of high-profile hardcovers combined with a larger volume of new releases to result in graphic novel sales in March being up 36.36%: deep discounting does not appear to have played as much of a role this time out.

Overall, performance on the periodical side continues to lag graphic novels. In particular, we are continuing to see degradation in the depth of the market when it comes to new comics: this month's 300th place title sold 4,269 copies, which is the lowest such figure for a month with five shipping weeks since February 2012. Click to see the sales of 300th-place titles across time.

We have a new record for the average cover price of all comics placing in the Top 300: $3.96, eclipsing the previous high by a cent. The average is still flirting with topping the modal $3.99 level, which would be a significant benchmark to cross.

The aggregate changes are as follows:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
March 2016: 6.09 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: -11%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +1%
Versus 10 years ago this month: -14%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +22%
YEAR TO DATE: 18.45 million copies, -11% vs. 2015, +19% vs. 2011, -1% vs. 2006, +21% vs. 2001
ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
March 2016 versus one year ago this month: -8.45%
YEAR TO DATE: -9.16%

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
March 2016: $24.72 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -3%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +20%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +13%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +79%
YEAR TO DATE: $72.8 million, -9% vs. 2015, +35% vs. 2011, +29% vs. 2006, +75% vs. 2001
ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
March 2016 versus one year ago this month: +0.53%
YEAR TO DATE: -3.4%

TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
March 2016: $8.67 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +4%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +16%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: +4%
Versus 15 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +96%
YEAR TO DATE: $24.49 million, +30% vs. 2015
ALL TRADE PAPERBACK SALES
March 2016 versus one year ago this month: +36.36%
YEAR TO DATE: +12.67%

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
March 2016: $33.39 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +4%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +16%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: +4%
Versus 15 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +96%
YEAR TO DATE: $96.67 million, -2% vs. 2015
ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK SALES
March 2016 versus one year ago this month: +11.04%
YEAR TO DATE: +1.32%

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
March 2016: approximately $46.58 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +11%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +35%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +34%
YEAR TO DATE: $129.58 million, +1 vs. 2015

RELEASES
New comic books released: 488
New graphic novels released: 371
New magazines released: 81
All new releases: 940

As noted, the average comic book in the Top 300 cost $3.96; the average comic book retailers ordered cost $4.06. The median and most common price for comics offered was $3.99. Click to see comics prices across time.

Another first quarter weathered. Comichron reminds readers that because of lower volumes, the winter months tend not to impact the end-of-year results as much as other seasons do. But while Winter 2016 has not dug a hole for the industry, neither has it given it much of a head-start.

http://bit.ly/STPrey1
John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 20 years, including a decade editing the industry's retail trade magazine; he is the author of several guides to comics, as well as more than a hundred comic books for various franchises. He is the author of several novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Overdraft: The Orion Offensive, and Star Wars: A New Dawn, now available in paperback. His trilogy for 2016, Star Trek: Prey, ships in consecutive months in September, October, and November.

Visit his fiction site at http://www.farawaypress.com. And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.

Read more...

2016 turns positive with strong March: Walking Dead Vol. 25, Batman, Power Rangers lead lists

Friday, April 8, 2016

by John Jackson Miller
http://amzn.to/1qceFJEA slow start to 2016 was erased with a March that saw extremely strong graphic novel sales, thanks to a much-larger-than-usual new release slate led by Walking Dead Vol. 25.

The preliminary report on the month from Diamond Comic Distributors, released today, found that North American comics shops ordered approximately $46.58 million in comics, graphic novels, and magazines in March, as compared to $41.95 million last March.

The resulting 11.04% year-over-year dollar increase was enough to erase the shortfall during the first two months of the year; the first quarter ended up 1.32%, with the graphic novel portion up 12.67%. In March alone, graphic novel dollar sales were up 36.36%.

The aggregate statistics:

DOLLARS UNITS
March 2016 vs. February 2016
Comics 3.62% 2.59%
Graphic Novels 31.90% 26.24%
Total Comics/GNs 12.29% 4.61%
March 2016 vs. March 2015
Comics 0.53% -8.45%
Graphic Novels 36.36% 34.78%
Total Comics/GNs 11.04% -5.31%
Year-To-Date 2016 vs. Year-To-Date 2015
Comics -3.40% -9.16%
Graphic Novels 12.67% 13.56%
Total Comics/GNs 1.32% -7.53%


Caveat department: This March had five shipping weeks versus four shipping weeks last year, and in a circumstance made more likely by this being a leap year, the first quarter of 2016 had 13 New Comics Days versus 12 in 2015. So the March increase is sort of in line with what we'd expect from an additional week in a month, but normally we'd expect the year to be doing just a little better to date for the additional week.

Also, periodical unit sales were down 8.45% for the month year-over-year, even though there was no Loot Crate comic book distorting the statistics in March 2015.

While comics units were down, comics dollars were up, thanks in part to the category-leading Batman #50 and its $5.99 price, releasing the same month that the Batman/Superman movie came out. Also noteworthy is the performance of Boom's Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #1, which debuted at a startling second place. Rankingwise, that's far better than the title's performance during its 1994-96 incarnations.

Top selling comic books
Comic Book Price Publisher
1 Batman #50 $5.99 DC
2 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #1 $3.99 Boom
3 Star Wars #17 $3.99 Marvel
4 Superman #50 $4.99 DC
5 Amazing Spider-Man #9 $3.99 Marvel
6 Darth Vader #17 $3.99 Marvel
7 Darth Vader #18 $3.99 Marvel
8 Deadpool #8 $3.99 Marvel
9 International Iron Man #1 $3.99 Marvel
10 Avengers Standoff: Assault On Pleasant Hill Alpha #1 $4.99 Marvel

The graphic novel side, as noted, was led by Walking Dead Vol. 25. The Paper Girls Vol. 1 trade paperback launched strongly — and noteworthy was the top-ten placement of the $50 Secret Wars hardcover.

Top selling graphic novels
Graphic Novel Price Publisher
1 The Walking Dead Volume 25: No Turning Back $14.99 Image
2 Paper Girls Volume 1 $9.99 Image
3 Civil War $24.99 Marvel
4 Tokyo Ghost Volume 1: Atomic Garden $9.99 Image
5 Batman Volume 7: Endgame $16.99 DC
6 Beauty Volume 1 $9.99 Image
7 East Of West Volume 5: All These Secrets $14.99 Image
8 Secret Wars HC $50.00 Marvel
9 Batman Volume 8: Superheavy HC $24.99 DC
10 Avatar The Last Airbender Volume 12: Smoke & Shadow Part 3 $10.99 Dark Horse

The market shares found Marvel leading both categories, with Boom leaping to fifth thanks to the Power Rangers offering:

Market shares
Dollar Share Unit Share
Marvel 37.39% 42.71%
DC 26.32% 25.94%
Image 8.73% 8.63%
IDW 5.82% 4.41%
Boom 3.26% 4.07%
Dark Horse 2.82% 2.47%
Dynamite 1.69% 1.56%
Viz 1.45% 0.63%
Titan 1.42% 1.48%
Eaglemoss 1.21% 0.34%
Other 9.88% 7.77%
 If you missed it earlier this week, be sure to examine our 25-year track of market shares.

Finally, we see that the number of offerings was significantly up over last March, largely due to the extra week in the month:

Comics shipped Graphic Novels shipped Magazines shipped Total shipped
Marvel 84 44 0 128
DC 77 40 0 117
IDW 50 32 0 82
Image 54 19 0 73
Eaglemoss 0 0 47 47
Viz 0 43 0 43
Dark Horse 23 16 0 39
Titan 19 11 5 35
Boom 23 11 0 34
Dynamite 18 2 0 20
Other 140 153 29 322
TOTAL 488 371 81 940

While the 2016 list for March only includes 33 additional comic books, the graphic novel slate was much larger, with 113 additional graphic novels offered. That's a big addition. Also noteworthy is the sheer number of action-figure magazines that Eaglemoss put out: 47 is likely the largest number we've seen in this category.

Final estimates for March will appear here next week.

http://bit.ly/STPrey1
John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 20 years, including a decade editing the industry's retail trade magazine; he is the author of several guides to comics, as well as more than a hundred comic books for various franchises. He is the author of several novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Overdraft: The Orion Offensive, and Star Wars: A New Dawn, now available in paperback. His trilogy for 2016, Star Trek: Prey, ships in consecutive months in September, October, and November.

Visit his fiction site at http://www.farawaypress.com. And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.

Read more...

A 25-year track of comics publisher market shares

Sunday, April 3, 2016

by John Jackson Miller

By popular demand, I have added a landing page on Comichron encapsulating the larger publisher market shares as far back as they are known, which is to 1991. You can click to see the annual market shares across time, which will be the permanent home of this material -- but I'll be recapping it all below.



Diamond Comic Distributors, the sales agent for most North American comics publishers serving the comics shop "direct market," reports annual market shares at the end of the year for its sales of comic books, trade paperbacks, and magazines. Above are the reported full-year market shares for several consistently large publishers over the last several years.

Before 1993, the figures are from Capital City Distribution, because Diamond did not report annual shares back then; 1991 was Capital City's first year for reporting them. Previously, Marvel's share in the 1980s was thought to have topped 70%, if you included the newsstand; that lead eroded in the late 1980s with the Black-and-White Independent Comics Boom, and the rise of several new publishers including, in the early 1990s, Malibu and Valiant.

Marvel share dropped precipitously in the early 1990s due to the departure of many of its top creators to start Image. There were no annual shares figures available during the Exclusivity Wars of 1995-96, when it was no longer possible to obtain all comics from a single distributor. (Read more about that period here and here.) That coincided with Marvel's sales collapse and later bankruptcy. DC passed Marvel in the late 1990s due to its early and aggressive adoption of graphic novels and trade paperbacks.

Marvel reclaimed the lead in the early 2000s. Image's share decreased in the late 1990s due to Wildstorm Studios' move to DC, with the publisher's percentages improving later following the debut of the Walking Dead TV show. IDW, launching in the early 2000s, grew steadily in that decade and became the #4 publisher in the 2010s. Dark Horse, as you see, remained fairly steadily around that 5% line for the past quarter-century. DC ticked up again in 2011 during its relaunch; Marvel has increased its lead in recent years.

The above figures account for the majority of the comic books moving through the comics shop system, though in more recent years the book channel has grown much larger. The above chart does not reflect sales to chain bookstores, Amazon, or digital sales; only what was sold to comics shops. As the calculation includes non-comics magazines, the true share for each publisher is probably slightly higher each month.

You can find many more charts of this nature in our Vital Statistics section.

http://bit.ly/STPrey1
John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 20 years, including a decade editing the industry's retail trade magazine; he is the author of several guides to comics, as well as more than a hundred comic books for various franchises. He is the author of several novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Overdraft: The Orion Offensive, and Star Wars: A New Dawn, now available in paperback. His trilogy for 2016, Star Trek: Prey, ships in consecutive months in September, October, and November.

Visit his fiction site at http://www.farawaypress.com. And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.

Read more...

February 2016 comics sales estimates online: Dark Knight III #3 tops 146k copies

Monday, March 7, 2016

by John Jackson Miller

Final sales for February have been reported by Diamond Comic Distributors, and as reported here earlier, comics were off significantly, while new graphic novels were up considerably. Dark Knight III: The Master Race #3 was the top-seller, shipping more than 146,000 copies. Click to see the sales estimates for comics ordered in February 2016.

Once again, a Loot Crate title was #1 in the comparison month from the previous year: that time, it was Orphan Black #1, which had nearly a half million copies move through Diamond. Remove that title and the 900,000-copy drop in the Top 300 is more than halved. But lower volumes this month are real: the month's 300th place title sold 3,744 copies, the lowest sum since June 2012. Click to see the sales of 300th-place titles across time.

The aggregate changes are as follows:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
February 2016: 6.1 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: -16%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +5%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +10%
Versus 15 years ago this month: unchanged
YEAR TO DATE: 12.08 million copies, -16% vs. 2015, -7% vs. 2011, +15% vs. 2006, unchanged vs. 2001
ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
February 2016 versus one year ago this month: -14.62%
YEAR TO DATE: -9.52%

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
February 2016: $24.35 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -13%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +34%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +32%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +78%
YEAR TO DATE: $48.42 million, -11% vs. 2015, +45% vs. 2011, +39% vs. 2006, +74% vs. 2001
ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
February 2016 versus one year ago this month: -6.73%
YEAR TO DATE: -5.32%

TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
February 2016: $7.86 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +32%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +53%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: +40%
Versus 15 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +33%
YEAR TO DATE: $15.82 million, +26% vs. 2015
ALL TRADE PAPERBACK SALES
February 2016 versus one year ago this month: +12%
YEAR TO DATE: +1.13%

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
February2016: $32.21 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -5%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +25%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: +19%
Versus 15 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +91%
YEAR TO DATE: $63.94 million, -5% vs. 2015
ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK SALES
February 2016 versus one year ago this month: -1.69%
YEAR TO DATE: -3.43%

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
February 2016: approximately $41.48 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: -2%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +39%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +45%
YEAR TO DATE: $83 million, -3% vs. 2015

RELEASES
New comic books released: 485
New graphic novels released: 275
New magazines released: 33
All new releases: 793

The average comic book in the Top 300 cost $3.84; the average comic book retailers ordered cost $3.99. The median and most common price for comics offered was $3.99. Click to see comics prices across time.

http://bit.ly/STPrey1
John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 20 years, including a decade editing the industry's retail trade magazine; he is the author of several guides to comics, as well as more than a hundred comic books for various franchises. He is the author of several novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Overdraft: The Orion Offensive, and Star Wars: A New Dawn, now available in paperback. His trilogy for 2016, Star Trek: Prey, ships in consecutive months in September, October, and November.

Visit his fiction site at http://www.farawaypress.com. And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.

Read more...

Dark Knight III #3 tops comics market in another sluggish winter month

Friday, March 4, 2016

by John Jackson Miller


Preliminary reporting is available on comics and graphic novel sales in February 2016 from Diamond Comic Distributors, and we see in them another month that is just slightly off from the same month a year ago. But since reported sales that month were supercharged by nearly half a million copies of Orphan Black #1, the vast majority of which went to the repackager Loot Crate, the month may not have been off by that much.

Indeed, Comichron estimates that while total orders were at $41.48 million, down about $700,000 from last February, our retail total from last year was inflated by nearly $2 million by the Loot Crate book. We can also estimate that much of the drop in unit sales came from the Loot Crate issue: half a million copies would equate to about half of the reported 14.62% drop in comics unit sales. And remember that last February also had more Star Wars launches, including continued sales of the first issue from last January.

So the comparisons for the first quarter are the muddle we'd been expecting, and may not say much at all about the health of the market as 2016 began. The aggregate changes:

Dollars Units
FEBRUARY 2016 VS. JANUARY 2016
Comics 0.14% -5.26%
Graphic Novels -0.63% 8.21%
TOTAL COMICS/GN -0.10% -4.24%
FEBRUARY 2016 VS. FEBRUARY 2015
Comics -6.73% -14.62%
Graphic Novels 12.00% 18.12%
TOTAL COMICS/GN -1.69% -12.54%
YEAR-TO-DATE 2016 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2015
Comics -5.32% -9.52%
Graphic Novels 1.13% 2.92%
TOTAL COMICS/GN -3.43% -8.63%

January's new comics sales suffered for the absence of a new issue of Dark Knight III, but when it did appear in February, it was the best-seller for the month. The top-selling comics:

Top-selling comic books
Title Price Publisher
1 Dark Knight III: The Master Race #3 $5.99 DC
2 Star Wars #16 $3.99 Marvel
3 Batman #49 $3.99 DC
4 Spider-Man #1 $3.99 Marvel
5 Deadpool: The Mercs For Money #1 $3.99 Marvel
6 Deadpool #7 $9.99 Marvel
7 Darth Vader #16 $3.99 Marvel
8 Power Man and Iron Fist #1 $3.99 Marvel
9 Amazing Spider-Man #7 $3.99 Marvel
10 Justice League #48 $3.99 DC

Graphic novel sales were the bright spot in the month, and while the split between graphic novel unit and dollar sales suggests that the average price paid wholesale was lower, that may not be due to deep discounting, since many of the top-sellers were low-priced. The third volume of The Wicked & The Divine from Image topped the graphic novel charts:

Top-selling graphic novels

Title Price Publisher
1 The Wicked & The Divine Vol. 3 $14.99 Image
2 Star Wars: Chewbacca $16.99 Marvel
3 Lumberjanes Vo. 3 $14.99 Boom
4 Batman: The Dark Knight Returns $19.99 DC
5 Batman: Harley and Ivy Deluxe Edition HC $24.99 DC
6 Sunstone Vol. 4 SC $14.99 Image
7 New Suicide Squad Vol. 2: Monsters $14.99 DC
8 The Fade-Out Vol. 3 $12.99 Image
9 Amazing Spider-Man: Edge of Spider-Verse $15.99 Marvel
10 Saga Vol. 5 $14.99 Image


The market shares:

Market shares
Dollar share Unit share
Marvel 40.78% 42.19%
DC 26.00% 29.01%
Image 9.18% 10.13%
IDW 4.78% 4.14%
Dark Horse 3.07% 2.59%
Boom 2.12% 1.94%
Dynamite 2.09% 1.68%
Oni 1.04% 0.85%
Viz 0.94% 0.38%
Titan 0.92% 0.82%
Other 9.09% 6.29%

The number of offerings by publisher grew significantly on the graphic novel side, which may have something to do with how much better graphic novels performed this month:

New titles released
New comics New graphic novels New magazines New items
Marvel 80 32 0 112
DC 78 28 1 107
Image 53 13 0 66
IDW 41 22 0 63
Dark Horse 27 16 0 43
Boom 23 13 0 36
Dynamite 20 6 0 26
Titan 14 6 1 21
Oni 7 3 0 10
Viz 0 2 0 2
Other 142 134 31 307
Total 485 275 33 793

Look for the full estimates for February here on Monday.


Comichron.com curator John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 20 years, including a decade editing the industry's retail trade magazine; he is the author of several guides to comics, as well as more than a hundred comic books for various franchises.

He is the author of several novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Star Trek: The Next Generation - Takedown, and Star Wars: A New Dawn. New Dawn appears with a new Miller short story as part of the Rise of the Empire compendium, now available. His Star Trek: Prey trilogy is set for late 2016 release from Pocket books.
Visit his fiction site to learn more. And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.

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Comics numbering, variants, and the relative security of the sky

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

by John Jackson Miller

I've been busy most of the last few months writing my upcoming Star Trek novel trilogy for Pocket Books, so I haven't been able to do more than the monthly wrap-ups here. Following a fascinating look at variant covers from David Harper at SKTCHD and a fun blog post from Russ Dobler using Comichron to debunk sky-is-falling internet comments, however, I made a number of tweets about the business that it might do well to repeat here.

First, as I said in response to Dobler's column, through hard experience we know very well what a failing comics industry looks like. The late 1950s, when publishers were rushing for the exits. The 1970s, when the newsstand distribution system was in a tailspin. The mid-1990s, after the retail-store bubble burst, downing all but one comic-shop distributor. We know what those looked like — and nothing we've seen this century has looked at all like that. Even the Great Recession, which really only hit the comics business in 2009-2011, appears to have been more of a slowdown than an actual collapse.

One part of the explanation for it is the same reason I'm less concerned about the focus on #1 issues and on variants: comic book periodicals are a relatively smaller piece of the overall picture than they were, and so a problem with them is less likely to lead to catastrophe. I further would observe that the fixes for a business that relies too much on #1 issues or variant covers, if those turn out to be problems, are relatively easier to make. It isn't a 1970s situation, where an entire new distribution system was required — or the 1990s, when a secondary revenue stream through trade paperbacks had to be aggressively ramped up.

To the specific concerns: I've tended to be less concerned about variants — especially now that I'm no longer running price guides where I have to index the things! — in part because I see that kind of customization as a consequence of technological advances in printing. It is simply easier to do split runs on covers than it once was; it thus becomes a bonus that isn't that hard to offer. By the same token, it becomes somewhat easier to stop offering them. If a publisher sees that a specific model of variant-cover offerings isn't working, that's something that can be tweaked on a month-to-month basis.

I've been more of a critic of renumbering, writing about it here in my piece on the genesis of comics numbering and previously in my Comics Buyer's Guide column (which I hope to reprint here someday). Long-running series are more than a tie to our industry's past — they tie into a pull-and-hold ordering system in stores that rewards the same title appearing in the catalog month after month. While there is no doubt that relaunching with a new #1 can produce a huge bump, there's evidence that sales tail off after that faster than they would have if, say, the big editorial event had been placed amid the ongoing series. In that case, a title that already had existing subscribers picks up a lot more all of a sudden — making the later dropoff seem not so steep.

A couple of good examples of this can be found in the core Batman title. The best-selling Batman issue of this century isn't the first issue of the 2011 reboot, but rather Batman #619, the final issue of Jim Lee's 2013 "Hush" storyline. Would the issues of that arc have sold better, net, had they started with Batman: Hush #1 as opposed to Batman #608? Perhaps, but the subscriber additions from Lee's run continued to assist the series after his storyline was over. I'm of the opinion that had Marvel launched "Heroes Reborn" — and then, later, "Heroes Return" — all as part of the original series numbering in 1996-97, more of the sales gains from Lee's and Rob Liefeld's issues would have been preserved. Instead, sales after the second relaunch in two years faded fairly quickly.

So I suspect long ongoing series suffer less attrition, net, than short ones — and that the net benefit of dropping, say, "Batman: Year One" into the regular Batman series, as happened in the late 1980s, probably helped the core title more than if the series had stood alone. There's certainly room enough for both approaches, given the size of publishers' lines these days.

With all that said, yes, the business's performance so far this decade has been heartening, including in 2015, where I've heard that the mass-market bookstore picture is going to come in with some very surprising results. There are definitely clouds, some darker than others, that a number of retailers have pointed to — but the sky does, in general, seem to be staying safely overhead.

[Addendum: And just after this post, DC announced it was returning both Action Comics and Detective Comics to their original legacy numbering, resuming with #957 and #934 respectively in June. Both titles will be biweekly.]

Comichron.com curator John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 20 years, including a decade editing the industry's retail trade magazine; he is the author of several guides to comics, as well as more than a hundred comic books for various franchises.

He is the author of several novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Star Trek: The Next Generation - Takedown, and Star Wars: A New Dawn. New Dawn appears with a new Miller short story as part of the Rise of the Empire compendium, now available. His Star Trek: Prey trilogy is set for late 2016 release from Pocket books.
Visit his fiction site to learn more. And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.

Read more...

January 2016 comics sales estimates online: The difference five years makes

Monday, February 8, 2016

by John Jackson Miller

The final sales report for January is out from Diamond Comic Distributors, and as reported here on Friday, the first month of the year was slightly off versus the same month in 2015, when statistics for several categories of that month were inflated by Loot Crate sales of Star Wars #1. Click to see the sales estimates for comics ordered in January 2016.

http://bit.ly/CCWD150
While the comparatives were part of the story, looking at the internals makes this January look less impressive than at first glance. We can now see that while graphic novel wholesale dollars were off 7.77% overall, according to Diamond, the total retail value of the Top 300 was actually up 20%. That points to something we can see by looking at the dollar rankings: there was heavy discounting of graphic novels in the month.

Many Marvel graphic novels in the Top 300, for example, had dollar volume rankings far lower than their unit rankings: Diamond does dollar rankings based on money it receives from retailers. This is a common enough occurrence, but in this month these sales accounted for a disproportionate share of the market.

January often tends to have a punier release slate than other months, meaning lower-selling titles make the Top 300; this month's 300th place title sold 4,028 copies, the lowest sum since June 2012. Click to see the sales of 300th-place titles across time.

On the other hand, some perspective: Five years ago, January 2011 was the pits. The Top 300 comics sold 4.4 million copies, likely the lowest sum since the 1930s. There were a couple of reasons: it was the bottom of the comics slump pre-DC reboot, but it was also a month where publishers shipped extremely few titles to market. The market ordered more than 2 million more comics this January, and publishers are releasing more, now, too: 719 new comics and graphic novels versus 555 five years ago. That shows a market with more breadth.

And eight titles had six-figure sales this January, led by Walking Dead #150 with orders topping 156,000 copies. Compare that with one title in six figures five years ago, and that at 115,000 copies. Back then, that one book was the only one above 73,000 copies; this January, there were 11. And the 300th place book had sales of 1,291 copies — less than a third of what today's title at that level sold!

[Update: Reading one of my comments at one of my own links above, I'm reminded that January 2011 had an additional strike against it: Diamond had switched all publishers so their books would arrive on Tuesday, and a number didn't meet the logistical demands and their books slid into February. That in part led to how few titles were out. That said, the February figure was only 5.17 million copies, so it's likely the sales of a January 2011 where everything went right still would have been between 4 and 5 million.]

The aggregate changes are as follows:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
January 2016: 6.49 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: -6%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +46%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +15%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +22%
YEAR TO DATE: 6.49 million copies, -6% vs. 2015, +46% vs. 2011, +15% vs. 2006, +23% vs. 2001
ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
January 2016 versus one year ago this month: -4.09%
YEAR TO DATE: -4.09%

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
January 2016: $24.7 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -9%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +58%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +47%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +69%
YEAR TO DATE: $24.7 million, -9% vs. 2015, +58% vs. 2011, +47% vs. 2006, +69% vs. 2001
ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
January 2016 versus one year ago this month: -3.86%
YEAR TO DATE: -3.86%

TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
January 2016: $7.96 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +20%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +73%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: +19%
Versus 15 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +24%
YEAR TO DATE: $7.96 million, +20% vs. 2015
ALL TRADE PAPERBACK SALES
January 2016 versus one year ago this month: -7.77%
YEAR TO DATE: -7.77%

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
January 2016: $32.66 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -4%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +43%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: +29%
Versus 15 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +81%
YEAR TO DATE: $32.66 million, -4% vs. 2015
ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK SALES
January 2016 versus one year ago this month: -5.1%
YEAR TO DATE: -5.1%

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
January 2016: approximately $41.52 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: -5%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +64%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +62%
YEAR TO DATE: $41.52 million, +5% vs. 2015
RELEASES
New comic books released: 450
New graphic novels released: 269
New magazines released: 59
All new releases: 778

The average comic book in the Top 300 cost $3.79; the average comic book retailers ordered cost $3.86. The median and most common price for comics offered was $3.99. These are some of the lowest prices we've seen in a while, and that also contributed to the month looking the was it did. Click to see comics prices across time.

Comichron.com curator John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 20 years, including a decade editing the industry's retail trade magazine; he is the author of several guides to comics, as well as more than a hundred comic books for various franchises.

He is the author of several novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Star Trek: The Next Generation - Takedown, and Star Wars: A New Dawn. New Dawn appears with a new Miller short story as part of the Rise of the Empire compendium, now available. His Star Trek: Prey trilogy is set for late 2016 release from Pocket books.
Visit his fiction site to learn more. And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.

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