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September 2005 puts trade on pace for $350 mil year

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

by John Jackson Miller

All-Star Batman's second issue and a two-issue month for New Avengers and JLA helped the comics market close out the third quarter 5% above the same period in 2004, according to my analysis of the sales reports released by Diamond Comic Distributors. See the estimates for September 2005 comics sales.

It was actually an off month compared with last September, which had one more shipping week. But it's interesting to see that the gap pretty much disappears in some comparisons. The Top 300 Comics plus the Top 100 Trades sold almost exactly in September what they sold last September ? which, again, had an additional shipping week to do it in.

It's a good sign that, despite monthly fluctuations, the market still seems headed in the right direction. We're up $18 millon in the overall category in the year-to-date, which means 2005 may pass 2004's annual sales during the first week of December. We're on pace for $350 million in the direct market alone — a number we haven't seen since 1996 and probably first saw in 1991, the year of X-Men #1. That said, note that there would have been a lot more individual sales adding up to the totals in those years, given that prices have gone up and our total today includes far, far more trade paperbacks.

Comics unit sales: The Top 300 comic books had retailer orders of 6.74 million copies in September, 4% less than September 2004, which, again, had one more shipping week.

All-Star Batman #2 posted sales of 178,600 copies to easily lead the list. That is a 31% drop from the 261,000 copies the first issue sold two months ago. As a bimonthly, retailers may have had a somewhat easier job of gauging second-issue demand than they normally have on monthlies. The third issue will absolutely reflect how well those 261,000 copies sold through.

Bakers #1 from Kyle Baker ranked as the top new publisher debut, landing in 226th place with 2,900 copies ordered.

For the first nine months of 2005, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined 56.97 million copies, an increase of 4% over the same period in the previous year.

Comics dollar sales: The Top 300 comic books had sales worth $19.41 million in September, 3% less than September 2004.

For the first nine months of 2005, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined $164.19 million, an increase of 4% over the same period in the previous year.

Trade paperbacks : The Top 100 trade paperbacks and graphic novels reported by Diamond had orders worth $3.89 million at full retail in September. Adding those to the Top 300 comics for the month yields $23.3 million, almost even with September 2004, even with its one more shipping week.
For the first nine months of 2005, the Top 300 comics and the Top 100 trade paperbacks from each month had orders worth $197.69 million, 6% over the same period in 2004.

Overall sales: The September 2005 total was $29.33 million, which increases to $31.91 million, when Diamond's United Kingdom orders are added. The figure is 4% lower than that for September 2004. Overall, the last nine months stand at $259.3 million, almost 8% more than the same period in 2004.

Market shares: Marvel led DC in Diamond's reported overall unit and dollar market shares, although by only 2.6% in the dollar category. DC had an even 100 comics in the Top 300 versus Marvel's 82.

Image led Dark Horse in all the narrower market share categories; in the overall category where backlist trade paperbacks are added, Dark Horse springs forward to a four-to-three advantage.

Price analysis: The average comic book on Diamond?s Top 300 list cost $3.01, the exact same as in September 2004.

The weighted average price — that is, the cost of the average comic book Diamond sold — was $2.88, up from $2.85 last year.

The average price of the comics that made the Top 25 was $2.70.

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