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More than 156,100 comic book and graphic novel circulation figures online!
Welcome to Comichron, a resource for comic book circulation data and other information gathered by
John Jackson Miller and other pop culture archaeologists interested in comics history.

 

Friday, December 15, 2006

Record November means $395+ million year for comics

by John Jackson Miller

Tax experts describe Tax Freedom day as the spot on the calendar when taxpayers stop working for the government and begin earning for themselves. For the comics industry, the Nov. 22 shipment marked the moment when the industry surpassed 2005's sales — so every dollar from here on out is growth, according to my analysis of the sales reports released by Diamond Comic Distributors on December 15. See the charts here.

Superlatives heap upon superlatives in looking at November 2006: While having five shipping weeks exactly like November 2005, it bested the previous year's sales in several categories by a wide margin.

Top 300 comics unit sales were up 23% over last November and were the best since December 1997. Those comics were worth 27% more than the comics sold last November — comics dollar sales were higher than they've been in any month since November 1996, exactly ten years ago. The combined sales of the Top 300 comics plus the Top 100 trade paperbacks were higher than we've seen since we began tracking the category. Marvel had its best month since at least 1996. And so on.

And overall, Diamond's sales including all trades and comics not in its top-sellers list and also magazines, were $39.25 million for November — again, the highest for any month since that statistic became available in 2002. I now project that 2006 will close at least at the $395 million year mark. While $400 million is not impossible, it'll require a near-repeat of November. We're on pace for a 13% increase over 2005.

Comics unit sales: The Top 300 comic books had retailer orders of almost 7.96 million copies in November, up a considerable 23% over November 2005, which had the same number of shipping weeks (five).

To date in 2006, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined 74.88 million copies, an increase of 8% over the 69.57 million copies sold in the period in the previous year. (Year-over-year statistics for 2006 are summarized here.)

Eighty million copies for the year should be an easy walk from here.

Marvel's Civil War #5 topped the list, selling at least 272,600 copies. DC's top performer was Justice League of America #3, at 140,900 copies.

With Marvel and DC taking up nearly two-thirds of the Top 300, most of the offerings from other publishers were forced further down or off the list. Only 28 publishers placed titles in the Top 300, and the only new publisher was Fun Publications, whose Transformers Timelines placed 248th with an estimated 5,500 copies sold.

Comics dollar sales: The Top 300 comic books had sales worth $24.6 million in November, a whopping 27% more than November 2005.

To date in 2006, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined $230.24 million, an increase of 14% over the $201.72 million worth sold in the same period in the previous year.

Trade paperbacks: The Top 100 Trade Paperbacks and graphic novels reported by Diamond had orders worth $4.64 million at full retail in November, a drop of 2% versus November 2005 and a slowdown from the gangbusters sales of October.

To date in 2006, the Top 100 Trades for each month total $44.66 million, up 6% from the same period in the previous year, when sales were $41.99 million.

Adding the Top 100 trades to the Top 300 Comics for the month yields $29.24 million, an increase of 21% over the $24.11 million ordered in the same month in 2005. It's the highest total ever since Diamond began reporting the category.

To date in 2006, the Top 300 Comics and the Top 100 Trade Paperbacks from each month had orders worth $274.9 million, 13% over the $243.71 million ordered in the same period in 2005.

Diamond’s “overall” sales: The November 2006 total was $39.25 million, which increases to $44.35 million, when Diamond’s estimated United Kingdom orders are added. The figure is up 22% from the $32.28 million ordered in the U.S. in November 2005. Overall, the year to date stands at $361.93 million, an increase of 13% over 2005's total of $320.70 million.

The “overall” category overstates comics’ actual performance to the extent that magazines that do not have comics content are included. The comics publishers’ market shares would actually be slightly higher, if ancillary items were removed.

Market shares: The fifth week resulted in Marvel and DC each having nearly 100 comics in the Top 300. DC placed 97, and Marvel placed 94. Dark Horse went into third place in all categories, including comic-book unit sales.

Price analysis: The average comic book on Diamond’s Top 300 list cost $3.26, up from $3.219 in September 2005.

The weighted average price – that is, the cost of the average comic book Diamond sold – was $3.09, up from $3.00 last year.

The average price of the comics that made the Top 25 was $2.93.

Unit Sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comic Books (est.): 7.96 million copies

Dollar Sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comic Books (est.): $24.6 million

Dollar Sales for Diamond's Top 100 Trade Paperbacks (est.): $4.64 million

Combined Dollar Sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comics and Top 100 TPBs (est.) : $29.24 million

OVERALL U.S. Dollar Sales for Diamond's Comics, Trade Paperbacks, and Magazines (est.): $39.25 million

Average price of comic books in Diamond's Top 300: $3.26

Average price of comic books in Diamond's Top 300, weighted by orders: $3.09

Friday, November 17, 2006

Books keep sales rolling in October 2006 in month with no Civil War

by John Jackson Miller

The comics industry continued on course to a year of across-the-board sales increases with an October marked by strong performances among new trade paperbacks and hardcovers, according to my analysis of the sales reports released by Diamond Comic Distributors on November 17. See the charts here.

Boosted by such titles as the Infinite Crisis hardcover from DC, The $5.19 million represented by Diamond's "Top 100 Trade Paperbacks and Hardcovers" is the highest total ever seen for that category, topping August 2006's $4.94 million.

The actual trade paperback portion of Diamond's sales may be as much as twice that size. Diamond's overall sales, including all trades and comics not in its top-sellers list and also magazines, was $30.59 million this month — and the Top 300 Comics only accounted for $19.06 million of it. If magazines and lower ranked comics accounted for $1.53 million or less, the total trade paperback portion could be above the $10 million mark.

Comics unit sales: The Top 300 comic books had retailer orders of almost 6.1 million copies in October, off a fraction of a percentage point from where they were in October 2005, which had the same number of shipping weeks (four).

To date in 2006, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined 66.92 million copies, an increase of 6% over the 63.1 million copies sold in the period in the previous year.

With a strong November and December, the industry can still reach 80 million copies for the year just among the Top 300.

Marvel's New Avengers #24 topped the list, selling at least 136,700 copies. The Civil War-less month broke the streak of five consecutive months that at least one issue has had sales over 200,000 copies.

There might not have been a Civil War, but Civil Wardrobe in 268th place with 2,000 copies made Brain Scan the top new publisher on the Top 300 list. Begoths Comics from Begoth came in 269th with about the same number of copies.

Comics dollar sales: The Top 300 comic books had sales worth $19.06 million in October, 5% more than October 2005.

To date in 2006, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined $205.64 million, an increase of 13% over the $182.35 million worth sold in the same period in the previous year.

Trade paperbacks: The Top 100 Trade Paperbacks and graphic novels reported by Diamond had orders worth $5.19 million at full retail in October, a leap of 38% over the same month in 2005.

Absolute Sandman was a half-million dollar earner for DC. Many other trades had also performed well.

To date in 2006, the Top 100 Trades for each month total $40.02 million, up 7% from the same period in the previous year, when sales were $37.25 million.

Adding the Top 100 trades to the Top 300 Comics for the month yields $24.26 million, an increase of 11% over the $21.91 million ordered in the same month in 2005.

To date in 2006, the Top 300 Comics and the Top 100 Trade Paperbacks from each month had orders worth $245.66 million, 12% over the $219.6 million ordered in the same period in 2005.

Diamond’s “overall” sales: The October 2006 total was $30.59 million, which increases to $34.16 million, when Diamond’s estimated United Kingdom orders are added. The figure is up 5% from the $29.11 million ordered in the U.S. in October 2005. Overall, the year to date stands at $322.68 million, an increase of 12% over 2005's total of $288.42 million.

It's increasingly looking like reaching $400 million for the year is going to be a challenge for November and December, but with five shipping weeks in November, it might surprise us.

Market shares: The parity in offerings returned, as Marvel and DC each had 85 issues in the Top 300. Within the Top 300, Dynamic Forces slipped into fourth place among publishers within the Top 300; Dark Horse retained fourth in the wider measures.

Price analysis: The average comic book on Diamond’s Top 300 list cost $3.29, up from $3.20 in September 2005.

The weighted average price – that is, the cost of the average comic book Diamond sold – was $3.13, up from $2.96 last year.

The average price of the comics that made the Top 25 was $3.05.

Unit Sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comic Books (est.): 6.1 million copies

Dollar Sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comic Books (est.): $19.06 million

Dollar Sales for Diamond's Top 100 Trade Paperbacks (est.): $5.19 million

Combined Dollar Sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comics and Top 100 TPBs (est.) : $24.26 million

OVERALL U.S. Dollar Sales for Diamond's Comics, Trade Paperbacks, and Magazines (est.): $30.59 million

Average price of comic books in Diamond's Top 300: $3.29 v Average price of comic books in Diamond's Top 300, weighted by orders: $3.13

Friday, October 13, 2006

September 2006 sales: The difference a decade makes

by John Jackson Miller

The comics industry hasn't yet caught up with where it was this time 10 years ago when it comes to comic-book sales — but it's greatly narrowed, if not erased, that gap with trade paperbacks, according to my analysis of the sales reports released by Diamond Comic Distributors on October 13. See the charts here.

The September numbers mark 10 years of reports since my first monthly analysis appeared in Comics Retailer magazine. So I can now make decade-to-decade comparisons to go along with the annual comparisons.

Comics sales were already on the way down in 1996 — when our first analysis reported the performance of first month of Marvel's 'Heroes Reborn' and events like DC's "Final Night." They would finally crater in 2000, before the industry, aided by a revitalized Marvel, would begin the long climb back.

Comic book sales today aren't at the higher levels they were at in September 1996, as the comparisons below show — but the "overall" figure for today comes near the most inclusive figure available back in 1996, when trade paperback sales were not nearly the force they are today.

A notable difference can be found in looking at the market-share breakdown of the titles in the Top 300, which in 1996 was compiled by fusing statistics from Diamond with those of Marvel's distributor, Heroes World. In September 1996, Marvel and DC together comprised 66% of Top 300 dollar sales. In September 2006, that figure is just over 86%.

Topps, Chaos, Homage, Maximum — these names from the 1996 list either don't exist anymore, or have been absorbed by one of the Big Two (as in Homage's case).

Comics unit sales: The Top 300 comic books had retailer orders of almost 6.61 million copies in September, off 2% from where they were in September 2005, which had the same number of shipping weeks (four).

To date in 2006, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined 60.82 million copies, an increase of 7% over the 56.97 million copies sold in the period in the previous year. (Year-over-year statistics for 2006 are summarized here.)

I continue to believe that the industry can hit 80 million copies for the year just among the Top 300.

Marvel's Civil War #4 topped the list, selling at least 272,500 copies. It's the fifth consecutive month at least one issue has had sales over 200,000 copies, and the sixth time this year.

By comparison, comics unit preorders a decade ago for the Top 300 were 11.1 million copies. The top-selling title, Fantastic Four Vol. 2, #1, had preorders of 314,000 copies, and there were six titles over the 200,000 copy mark. There were 23 issues selling over the 100,000 mark in September 1996, versus 12 today.

It's worth noting that the same measures five years ago find only 5.86 million copies preordered, with the top-selling title, Wolverine: The Origin #1 — considered a blockbuster at the time — gaining preorders only of 135,700 copies. Only four issues total were over 100,000 copies.

Comics dollar sales: The Top 300 comic books had sales worth $20.44 million in September, 5% more than September 2005.

To date in 2006, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined $186.58 million, an increase of 14% over the $164.19 million worth sold in the same period in the previous year.

By comparison,comics dollar preorders a decade ago for the Top 300 were worth $25.89 million. Comics dollar preorders five years ago were worth only $16.36 million.

Looking just at the Top 300 sales, we appear to be about halfway between our lowest point, which would have been in 2000, and 1996.

Trade paperbacks: The Top 100 Trade Paperbacks and graphic novels reported by Diamond had orders worth $3.68 million at full retail in September, a drop of 5% from the same month in 2005.

To date in 2006, the Top 100 Trades for each month total $34.82 million, up 4% from the same period in the previous year, when sales were $33.5 million.

Adding the Top 100 trades to the Top 300 Comics for the month yields $24.12 million, an increase of 12% over the $23.3 million ordered in the same month in 2005.

To date in 2006, the Top 300 Comics and the Top 100 Trade Paperbacks from each month had orders worth $221.4 million, 12% over the $197.69 million ordered in the same period in 2005.

A decade ago, Diamond didn't list its trade paperback sales whatsoever, indicating what kind of relative role the product category had in the scheme of things. The best guess is that all Diamond's trades in September 1996 were worth at least $3.21 million, which sounds comparble to the 2006 figure until you remember that the 2006 number is only for the Top 100. The rest of the backlist is worth millions still. In 1996, the Top 100 trades would have covered close to everything the distributors were selling in any quantity.

Diamond’s “overall” sales: The September 2006 total was $30.81 million, which increases to $34.12 million, when Diamond’s estimated United Kingdom orders are added. The figure is up 5% from the $29.33 million ordered in the U.S. in September 2005. Overall, the year to date stands at $292.09 million, an increase of 13% over 2005's total of $259.31 million.

We can still see a $400 million year with a strong holiday season.

A decade ago, the closest thing in the September 1996 to this total would be the estimate adding the dollar value of the Top 300 Comics to the dollars estimated for all trade paperbacks. That figure, $29.6 million, is likely to be not too much higher in reality. You'd add sales from comics not in the Top 300, reorders, and magazines, but you'd lose all the comics that didn't come out, since these were preorders.

Market shares: The parity in offerings seen for months vanished, as DC placed 95 issues in the Top 300, versus Marvel's 76; yet Marvel still led all categories tracked. Dark Horse nudged past Image for third place in overall dollars.

A decade ago, DC had 83of the comics in the Top 300; Marvel had only 55, its line already greatly pared down. But Marvel and DC together only accounted for 66% of the dollar sales in the Top 300; today, they account for more than 86%!

Price analysis: The average comic book on Diamond’s Top 300 list cost $3.21, up from $3.01 in September 2005.

The weighted average price – that is, the cost of the average comic book Diamond sold – was $3.09, up from $2.88 last year.

The average price of the comics that made the Top 25 was $3.03.

A decade ago the average comic book in the Top 300 cost $2.56. The weighted average price was $2.54. The Top 25 comics averaged a comfortable $2.18.

Unit Sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comic Books (est.): 6.74 million copies

Dollar Sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comic Books (est.): $20.44 million

Dollar Sales for Diamond's Top 100 Trade Paperbacks (est.): $3.68 million

Combined Dollar Sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comics and Top 100 TPBs (est.) : $24.12 million

OVERALL U.S. Dollar Sales for Diamond's Comics, Trade Paperbacks, and Magazines (est.): $30.81 million

Average price of comic books in Diamond's Top 300: $3.21

Average price of comic books in Diamond's Top 300, weighted by orders: $3.09

Friday, September 15, 2006

August 2006 comics sales: Third straight August with double-digit gains

by John Jackson Miller

Growth in the comics industry is becoming an August tradition. Once again, orders of comics and trade paperbacks in August increased in all categories according to my analysis of the sales reports released by Diamond Comic Distributors on September 15. But it is, in fact, the third August in a row in which the "overall" sales category has seen gains of more than 10%. See the charts here.

Diamond's estimated overall sales including all comics, trade paperbacks, and magazines for August 2006, $37.43 million, were 15% higher than its sales for August 2005. But those sales were 18% higher than those for August 2004, which themselves were 11% higher than those for August 2003.

Many have said that a steady rate of growth would be preferable to the wild increases — ultimately unsustainable — that we saw at the beginning of the 1990s. The record now demonstrates that the year-to-year gains we're seeing now are not an abrupt departure from recent history, but perhaps part of a more consistent pattern.

August sales, highlighted by Justice League of America #1 and the start of the "Absolute" line of reprints from DC, helped the industry sustain its annual increase over last year. For the first eight months of the year, Diamond's overall sales including all comics, trade paperbacks, and magazines are at $261.28 million, over last year's pace of $229.98 million. The industry is ahead more than $32 million.

Comics unit sales: The Top 300 comic books had retailer orders of almost 7.39 million copies in August, almost exactly what they were in July and up 4% over July 2005, which had the same number of shipping weeks (five).

To date in 2006, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined 54.21 million copies, an increase of 8% over the 50.23 million copies sold in the period in the previous year. (Year-over-year statistics for 2006 are summarized here.)

There's some hope that the industry can possibly hit 80 million copies for the year just among the Top 300.

DC's Justice League of America #1 topped the list, selling at least 212,000 copies. It's the fourth consecutive month at least one issue has had sales over 200,00 copies, and the fifth time this year.

Only one new publisher appeared on the list in August: Prima Publishing, better known for its video game guides. Its Perfect Dark Janus Tears #1 placed 252nd with orders of 2,800 copies.

Comics dollar sales: The Top 300 comic books had sales worth $22.94 million in August, 10% more than August 2005.

To date in 2006, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined $166.14 million, an increase of 15% over the $144.78 million worth sold in the same period in the previous year.

Trade paperbacks: The Top 100 trade paperbacks and graphic novels reported by Diamond had orders worth $4.94 million at full retail in August, an increase of 35% over the same month in 2005.

Much of the gain came from two of DC's new $100 "Absolute" editions. The Kingdom Come and Dark Knight Returns versions generated close to $800,000 in sales all on their own.

To date in 2006, the Top 100 trades for each month total $31.14 million, up 5% from the same period in the previous year, when sales were $29.61 million.

Adding those to the Top 300 comics for the month yields $27.88 million, an increase of 14% over the $24.5 million ordered in the same month in 2005.

To date in 2006, the Top 300 comics and the Top 100 trade paperbacks from each month had orders worth $197.28 million, 13% over the $174.39 million ordered in the same period in 2005.

Diamond’s “overall” sales: The August 2006 total was $37.43 million, which increases to $41.65 million, when Diamond’s estimated United Kingdom orders are added. The figure is up 14% from the $32.58 million ordered in the U.S. in August 2005. Overall, the year to date stands at $261.28 million, an increase of 14% over 2005's total of $229.98 million. We're still steering toward what looks like a $400 million year, overall.

Market shares: Parity continued in the offerings between the Big Two as DC and Marvel both had 86 comics in the Top 300. IDW posted fourth in several categories.

Price analysis: The average comic book on Diamond’s Top 300 list cost $3.27, up from $3.17 in July 2005.

The weighted average price – that is, the cost of the average comic book Diamond sold – was $3.11, up from $2.92 last year.

The average price of the comics that made the Top 25 was $2.99.

Unit Sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comic Books (est.): 7.39 million copies

Dollar Sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comic Books (est.): $22.94 million

Dollar Sales for Diamond's Top 100 Trade Paperbacks (est.): $4.94 million

Combined Dollar Sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comics and Top 100 TPBs (est.) : $27.88 million

OVERALL U.S. Dollar Sales for Diamond's Comics, Trade Paperbacks, and Magazines (est.): $37.43 million

Average price of comic books in Diamond's Top 300: $3.27

Average price of comic books in Diamond's Top 300, weighted by orders: $3.11

Friday, August 11, 2006

July 2006 comics sales: Periodicals driving industry growth in 2006

by John Jackson Miller

In an industry hitting on all cylinders — with year-to-date growth now in every category through July 2006 — it's orders of single-issues that have generated most of the gains, according to my analysis of the sales reports released by Diamond Comic Distributors on August 11. See the charts here.

A strong July for Diamond's Top 100 trade paperbacks finally brought the Top 100 trade category into positive territory for 2006. July's sales of Top 100 trade paperbacks to retailers were 25% over those for July 2005.

Sales of trade paperbacks in general were never actually down, just this top-most portion of Diamond's inventory which might be regarded in some sense as the front of the frontlist. Now we can truly say the industry is ahead in every category we measure.

For the first seven months of the year, the industry is up 13% in the widest category I track. Diamond's overall sales including all comics, trade paperbacks, and magazines are at $223.85 million, over last year's pace of $197.4 million. The industry is ahead more than $26 million, most of which has come from a familiar format -- the periodical comic book.

Nearly $20 million of that $26 million in growth has come from Diamond's Top 300, which has had heat this year from Civil War and Infinite Crisis. That leaves around $6 million in growth from trade paperbacks and magazines, almost all of which has come from the backlist. But that may not be the story for long, as those popular comics series begin to be collected in trade-paperback form.

Comics unit sales: The Top 300 comic books had retailer orders of 7.39 million copies in July, off 1% from July 2005, which the same number of shipping weeks.

To date in 2006, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined 46.82 million copies, an increase of 9% over the 43.1 million copies sold in the period in the previous year.

Marvel's Civil War #3 led the list, selling at least 290,700 copies and dropping off only slightly from the first issue's totals. Orders for DC's issues of 52 were only estimated by Diamond, owing to that title's returnability -- but estimates for all four were above 98,000 copies.

Four new publishers appeared on the list in July: Wildcard Ink, whose Gumby #1 came in 216th place with orders for 4,900 copies; Virgin, whose Sadhu #1 came in 236th place with orders for 3,900 copies; and American Mule, whose Public Enemy #1 came in 239th place with orders for 3,800 copies; and Thrillhouse, whose Shark-Man #1 came in 248th place with orders for 3,300 copies.

Comics dollar sales: The Top 300 comic books had sales worth $22.62 million in July, 15% more than July 2005.

To date in 2006, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined $143.2 million, an increase of 16% over the $123.95 million worth sold in the same period in the previous year.

Trade paperbacks: The Top 100 trade paperbacks and graphic novels reported by Diamond had orders worth $4.32 million at full retail in July, an increase of 25% over the same month in 2005.

To date in 2006, the Top 100 trades for each month total $26.2 million, up 1% from the same period in the previous year, when sales were $25.94 million.

Adding those to the Top 300 comics for the month yields $26.94 million, an increase of 19% over the $22.58 million ordered in July 2005.

To date in 2006, the Top 300 comics and the Top 100 trade paperbacks from each month had orders worth $169.4 million, 13% over the $149.89 million ordered in the same period in 2005.

Diamond’s “overall” sales: The July 2006 total was $34.97 million, which increases to $38.27 million, when Diamond’s estimated United Kingdom orders are added. The figure is up 21% from the $28.96 million ordered in the U.S. in June 2005. Overall, the year to date stands at $223.85 million, an increase of 13% over 2005's total of $197.4 million.

Market shares: The same top four appeared in the same order in every category measured: Marvel, DC, Image, and Dark Horse. Parity returned to the offerings between the Big Two as DC had 88 comics in the Top 300 versus Marvel’s 87.

Price analysis: The average comic book on Diamond’s Top 300 list cost $3.24, up from $3.19 in July 2005.

The weighted average price – that is, the cost of the average comic book Diamond sold – was $3.06, up from $2.92 last year.

The average price of the comics that made the Top 25 was $2.91.

Unit Sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comic Books (est.): 7.39 million copies

Dollar Sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comic Books (est.): $22.62 million

Dollar Sales for Diamond's Top 100 Trade Paperbacks (est.): $4.32 million

Combined Dollar Sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comics and Top 100 TPBs (est.) : $26.94 million

OVERALL U.S. Dollar Sales for Diamond's Comics, Trade Paperbacks, and Magazines (est.): $34.97 million

Average price of comic books in Diamond's Top 300: $3.24

Average price of comic books in Diamond's Top 300, weighted by orders: $3.06

Friday, July 14, 2006

Industry up 12% during first half of 2006

by John Jackson Miller

Comic-book and trade paperback orders in the direct market in June helped the industry continue its winning ways for 2006, according to my analysis of the sales reports released by Diamond Comic Distributors on July 14. See the charts here.

Despite June 2006 having one less shipping week than June 2005, the industry posted similar figures in several categories and 15% above last year when it came to dollar sales for Diamond's Top 300 comics.

For the first six months of the year, the industry is up 12% in the widest category I track. Diamond's overall sales including all comics, trade paperbacks, and magazines are at $188.88 million, over last year's pace of $168.44 million.

It's not out of the question that we could see a $400 million year from the direct market in 2006. Without the winter months to worry about, the second half is almost always stronger than the first.

Comics unit sales: The Top 300 comic books had retailer orders of 6.99 million copies in June, off 1% from June 2005, which had one more shipping week.

For the first six months of 2006, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined 39.43 million copies, an increase of 8% over the 36.55 million copies sold in the period in the previous year.

Marvel's Civil War #2 led the list, selling at least 253,900 copies and dropping off only slightly from the first issue's totals. Orders for DC's issues of 52 were only estimated by Diamond, owing to that title's returnability -- but estimates for all four were above 100,000 copies.

For the second month in a row, the powerful sales coming from the major publishers again resulted in not a single new publisher appearing on the list. That despite the fact that, in June, 300th place on the chart dropped from 2,800 copies, where it was in May, to just 1,100 copies.

Comics dollar sales: The Top 300 comic books had sales worth $21.24 million in June, 2% more than June 2005 (which had one fewer shipping week).

For the first six months of 2006, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined $120.58 million, an increase of 15% over the $104.83 million worth sold in the same period in the previous year.

Trade paperbacks: The Top 100 trade paperbacks and graphic novels reported by Diamond had orders worth $3.64 million at full retail in June, almost exactly the same as the May figure and a decrease of 4% versus the same month in 2005.

For the first six months of the year, the Top 100 trades for each month total $21.88 million, off 3% from the same period in the previous year, when sales were $22.48 million.

Adding those to the Top 300 comics for the month yields $24.88 million, an increase of 1% over the $24.62 million ordered in June 2005.

For the first six months of 2006, the Top 300 comics and the Top 100 trade paperbacks from each month had orders worth $142.46 million, 12% over the $127.31 million ordered in the same period in 2005.

Diamond’s “overall” sales: The June 2006 total was $32.01 million, which increases to $34.97 million, when Diamond’s estimated United Kingdom orders are added. The figure is off 2% from the $32.83 million ordered in the U.S. in June 2005. Overall, the last six months stand at $188.88 million, an increase of 12% over 2005's total of $168.44 million.

Market shares: Marvel retook the lead from DC in the overall categories and both unit and dollar Top 300 categories. DC had 92 comics in the Top 300 versus Marvel’s 85. Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, and Image accounted for 85% of the industry's sales, a high since Diamond began reporting "actual" sales in 1998.

Price analysis: The average comic book on Diamond’s Top 300 list cost $3.28, up from $3.15 in June 2005.

The weighted average price – that is, the cost of the average comic book Diamond sold – was $3.04, up from $2.94 last year.

The average price of the comics that made the Top 25 was $2.89.

Unit Sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comic Books (est.): 6.99 million copies

Dollar Sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comic Books (est.): $21.24 million

Dollar Sales for Diamond's Top 100 Trade Paperbacks (est.): $3.64 million

Combined Dollar Sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comics and Top 100 TPBs (est.) : $24.88 million

OVERALL U.S. Dollar Sales for Diamond's Comics, Trade Paperbacks, and Magazines (est.): $32.01 million

Average price of comic books in Diamond's Top 300: $3.28

Average price of comic books in Diamond's Top 300, weighted by orders: $3.04

Friday, June 16, 2006

Civil War #1 helps make May 2006 comics orders the best in a decade

by John Jackson Miller

Comic-book orders in the direct market in May were higher than they have been in nearly a decade, according to my analysis of the sales reports released by Diamond Comic Distributors on June 16. See the charts here.

Among Diamond's Top 300 comics, unit orders were up 23% over last May, and dollar orders were up 28%. Diamond's overall sales including all comics, trade paperbacks, and magazines rose an astounding 40% over May of the previous year to $37.58 million. Year-over-year increases of that magnitude have not been seen since the beginning of the 1990s color comics boom — yet it's not yet something to be nervous about.

There are a few key differences with these figures. There were only four shipping weeks in May 2005; this year there were five. While New Comics Day wasn't until Thursday, June 1 in most places because of Memorial Day, those sales are all counted as part of May. When we compare four-ship-week June 2006 with five ship-week June 2005, we'll see how well they stack up.

Another difference is there are fewer comics stores this time around, and without a major proliferation in the number of stores, there's a natural check to the speed with which the market can accelerate. If we were seeing the number of shops doubling or tripling, as it did back then, we would be more likely to see the year-to-year doublings of sales we saw back then. But for now it appears that we simply have stores which are doing higher numbers in their existing locations.

Comics unit sales: The Top 300 comic books had retailer orders of 7.58 million copies in May, a whopping 23% more than May 2005, which had one less shipping week. That's the highest total seen in that category since December 1997, the month that Image's Darkness #11 and its11 covers had pre-orders of 357,000 copies.

For the first five months of 2006, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined 32.44 million copies, an increase of 10% over the 29.47 million copies sold in the period in the previous year. (Year-over-year statistics for 2006 are summarized here.)

Marvel's Civil War #1 led the list, selling at least 260,700 copies and missing the 21st-century record held by July 2005's All-Star Batman and Robin #1 by a mere 400 copies. DC's Infinite Crisis finale narrowly missed the 200,000-copy mark. Orders for DC's first four issues of 52 were only estimated by Diamond, owing to that title's returnability -- but estimates for all four were above 120,000 copies.

The powerful sales coming from the major publishers resulted in not a single new publisher appearing on the list in May. The bottom of the Top 300 chart is at 2,800 copies. It's been a long time since we've seen the bar set so high.

The independent title with serious after-market heat, Archaia's Mouse Guard, saw its second issue vault up to 201st place and 7,900 copies.

Comics dollar sales: The Top 300 comic books had sales worth $23.54 million in May, a huge 28% more than May 2005. That's the highest total seen in that category since December 1996.

For the first five months of 2006, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined $99.34 million, an increase of 18% over the $84 million worth sold in the same period in the previous year.

Trade paperbacks: The Top 100 trade paperbacks and graphic novels reported by Diamond had orders worth $3.65 million at full retail in May, an increase of 3% over the same month in 2005. For the first five months of the year, the Top 100 trades for each month total $18.24 million, off 2% from the same period in the previous year, when sales were $18.69 million.

Adding those to the Top 300 comics for the month yields $27.19 million, a big increase of 24% over the $20.6 million ordered in May 2005. That, also, is the highest total seen in that category since December 1996.

For the first five months of 2006, the Top 300 comics and the Top 100 trade paperbacks from each month had orders worth $117.58 million, 15% over the $102.69 million ordered in the same period in 2005.

Diamond’s “overall” sales: The May 2006 total was $37.58 million, which increases to $41.61 million, when Diamond’s estimated United Kingdom orders are added. The figure is a gargantuan 40% over the $26.75 ordered in the U.S. in May 2005. Overall, the last five months stand at $156.87 million, an increase of 16% over 2005's total of $135.61 million.

Market shares: DC led Marvel among both Diamond’s reported overall unit and dollar market shares — as well as every narrower category we track. DC had 102 comics in the Top 300 versus Marvel’s 89.

Price analysis: The average comic book on Diamond’s Top 300 list cost $3.24, up from $3.12 in May 2005.

The weighted average price – that is, the cost of the average comic book Diamond sold – was $3.11, up from $2.95 last year.

The average price of the comics that made the Top 25 was $3.03.

Unit Sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comic Books (est.): 7.58 million copies

Dollar Sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comic Books (est.): $23.54 million

Dollar Sales for Diamond's Top 100 Trade Paperbacks (est.): $3.65 million

Combined Dollar Sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comics and Top 100 TPBs (est.) : $27.19 million

OVERALL U.S. Dollar Sales for Diamond's Comics, Trade Paperbacks, and Magazines (est.): $37.58 million

Average price of comic books in Diamond's Top 300: $3.24

Average price of comic books in Diamond's Top 300, weighted by orders: $3.11

Friday, April 14, 2006

Dead no more: First quarter alive with comics sales

by John Jackson Miller

http://www.comichron.com/monthlycomicssales/2006/2006-03.html
No one ever really dies in comics — and now the "dead quarter," when comics sales traditionally go into hibernation, isn't dead any more, either. Retailers ordered at least a million more comic books in the first quarter of 2006 than in the first quarter of 2005, according to my analysis of the sales reports released by Diamond Comic Distributors on April 14.

We're at $89 million overall for the first three months of 2006, up 9% from the first quarter of 2005. The chart analysis for March appears here.

Marvel reached a notable threshold in March, placing 100 comics on Diamond's Top 300 list. That's a quantity we haven't seen in many years, although as the list includes reordered comics, many are appearing for the second time. The period of highest volume for Marvel offerings would have been in the early 1990s, when it often had more than 120 titles in the market.

Comics unit sales: The Top 300 comic books had retailer orders of 6.99 million copies in March 2006, 4% more than March 2005, which also had five shipping weeks. Retailers ordered 27,000 more comic books in March 2006.

For the first quarter of 2006, the Top 300 comic books had orders of 18.61 million units, 6% more than 2005?s total of 17.56 million units.

Infinite Crisis #5's sales of at least 201,800 copies led the field, representing significant growth from #4's January sales of 182,600 copies. In addition to the book's heat,  the March issue also benefited from both the generally stronger retail conditions of March relative to January and from its placement in the calendar. Infinite Crisis #4 shipped on January 18, meaning the January chart captured only two weeks of reorders; #5 shipped on March 1, meaning a whole month's reorder activity appeared on the March charts. With #6 shipping April 5, the same phenomenon should recur in April's charts.

The continuing phenomenon of ever more Marvel and DC issues in the Top 300 continues to push most new publishers off the Top 300 list. Exceptions were Tales of Alvin #1 from the Dabel Brothers, placing 282nd with 3,300 copies, and Full Cirkle #3, by the differently spelled Full Circle, which placed 286th with about 3,050 copies.

A comic book now needs to sell more than 2,600 copies to make the Top 300 chart. That's a higher threshold than we've seen in a long time. By contrast, in the "bad old days" — going back to March 2001, near the beginning of the revival — you only needed to sell 800 copies to make the chart. You'd make the high 200s with 2,600 copies.

That fact does not necessarily mean that independent titles are selling better, only that there are enough high-volume titles from the heavy hitters to soak up spaces on the chart smaller titles once took.

Comics dollar sales: The Top 300 comic books had sales worth $21.51 million in March 2006, 11% more than March 2005's total of $19.06 million.

For the first quarter of 2006, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined $56.3 million, an increase of more than $6 million, or 13%, over the same period in the previous year.

Trade paperbacks : The Top 100 trade paperbacks and graphic novels reported by Diamond had orders worth $4.05 million at full retail in March 2006, a drop of 5% from the total in March 2005. Adding those to the Top 300 comics for the month yields $25.56 million, an increase of 9% over March 2005's total of $23.35 million.

For the first three months of 2006, the Top 300 comics and the Top 100 trade paperbacks from each month had orders worth $67.34 million, an increase of 11% over the same period in 2005.

Exclusive: Diamond's overall sales: Diamond publishes dollar market shares for its top 20 publishers across all comics, trade paperbacks, and magazines. Knowing the exact total orders of any publisher on that list right down to the oldest backlist item allows you to calculate Diamond's total orders across these product groups.

The March 2006 total was $34.8 million, which increases to $38.6 million, when Diamond's United Kingdom orders are added. The figure is 10% over March 2005?s U.S. total of $31.58 million. Overall, the first quarter stands at $89 million, 9% more than last year's total of $81.43 million.
The "overall" category overstates comics' actual performance to the extent that magazines that do not have comics content are included. The comics publishers' market shares would actually be slightly higher, if ancillary items were removed.

Market shares: Marvel again topped DC in Diamond's reported overall unit and dollar market shares. Marvel hit a historical mark of sorts by placing 100 titles in the Top 300; that figure includes many reordered comics making the list for a second time, but it recalls the days of the mid-1990s when Marvel last had 100 monthly titles. DC had 83 comics in the list — and Image's 40 is the highest that publisher has produced in some time.

IDW actually took fourth in both units and dollars when only the Top 300 Comics are considered, owing to its slate of 15 comic books releasing in March versus Dark Horse's 10. Dark Horse's market share is nearly double that of IDW when trade paperbacks are added, however.

Price analysis: The average comic book on Diamond's Top 300 list cost $3.15, up from $3.06 in March 2005.

The weighted average price — that is, the cost of the average comic book Diamond sold — was $3.08, way up from $2.84 last year. The average price of the comics that made the Top 25 was $3.06, also up from $2.70 in March 2005.

The comics being offered haven't gotten that much more expensive, but the comics people are buying the most have.

Methodology: Diamond keys orders for all comics it lists sales for to Batman, with one "order index point" being equal to 1% of that title's orders. Using actual Diamond final orders from titles accounting for more than 25% of Diamond's Top 300, I determined that one point on Diamond?s order index was likely to equal 698 comic books — with a 95% probability that the real figure was between 697 and 699.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Industry extends sales gains in February 2006

by John Jackson Miller

http://www.comichron.com/monthlycomicssales/2006/2006-02.htmlThe lack of an issue of Infinite Crisis shipping in February proved no crisis for the comics industry, which racked up yet another month of year-over-year gains in most categories, according to an analysis of the sales reports released by Diamond Comic Distributors on March 17.

The industry continues to do well in a time of year traditionally slow for comics shops. In units, this was the best February for the Top 300 comics since 1998, and in dollars, since 1997. The sales charts for February 2006 appear here.

Comics unit sales: The Top 300 comic books had retailer orders of 6.05 million copies in February, 3% more than in the same month in 2005, which had the same number of shipping weeks. For the year to date, Top 300 comics unit sales stand at 11.62 million copies, up 7% over last year's 10.84 million copies.
With Infinite Crisis shipping on March 1, the road was open for Marvel to take the top slot on the charts, which it did with Astonishing X-Men #13, selling approximately 140,600 copies.

Publishers appearing for the first time on the charts included Creative Talent, whose When Zombies Attack #1 placed 267th with approximately 2,300 copies sold; and Markosia, whose Abiding Perdition #5 hit the charts at 288th place and 1,700 copies.

Comics dollar sales: The Top 300 comic books had sales worth $18.18 million in February, 8% more than February 2005?s total of $16.77 million.

For the first two months of 2006, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined $34.79 million, an increase of a whopping 14% over the same period in the previous year.

Trade paperbacks : The Top 99 trade paperbacks and graphic novels reported by Diamond (the listing for the #71 item was somehow skipped) had orders worth $3.45 million at full retail in February. That figure is off 8% from the February 2005 total of $3.75 million.

Adding those to the Top 300 comics for the month yields $21.63 million, an increase of 5% over February 2005.

For the first two months of 2006, the Top 300 comics and the Top 100 trade paperbacks from each month had orders worth $41.78 million, up 11% over the same period in 2005.

Exclusive: Diamond's "overall" sales: Diamond publishes dollar market shares for its top 20 publishers across all comics, trade paperbacks, and magazines. Knowing the exact total orders of any publisher on that list right down to the oldest backlist item allows you to calculate Diamond's total orders across these product groups.

The February 2006 total was $28.64 million, which increases to $31.86 million, when Diamond?s United Kingdom orders are added. The figure represents an increase of 8% over February 2005. Overall, the last two months stand at $54.2 million, up 9% over 2005's total of $49.85 million.
The "overall" category overstates comics' actual performance to the extent that magazines that do not have comics content are included. The comics publishers' market shares would actually be slightly higher, if ancillary items were removed.

Market shares: Marvel led DC by nearly a 5-to-4 margin in Diamond?s reported overall unit and dollar market shares. Notable is the number of comics both publishers placed in the Top 300: 96 for Marvel and 91 for DC. That Marvel number includes reordered items, but is beginning to get into territory not seen since the mid-1990s.

In an unusual turn, Dark Horse led Image in all categories including unit sales in the Top 300, where Image's greater output of titles — 24 comics to Dark Horse's 12 in February — usually gives it an edge.

Also influencing market share for comics publishers was the declining contribution coming from the magazine portion of the market, where the Top 15 magazines dropped under 100,000 copies combined. Wizard's unit share stood at 1.06% in February, a full third less than it was two years ago. (Inquest, which was off more than 60% from last February's orders, dropped under 1,900 copies and has already been announced for a May relaunch at a cover price of $1.99.)

Price analysis: The average comic book on Diamond's Top 300 list cost $3.25 up from $3.10 in February 2005.

The weighted average price — that is, the cost of the average comic book Diamond sold — was $3.01, up from $2.86 last year.

The average price of the comics that made the Top 25 was $2.90.

Methodology: Diamond keys orders for all comics it lists sales for to Batman, with one ?order index point? being equal to 1% of that title's orders. Using actual Diamond final orders from titles accounting for more than 25% of Diamond's Top 300, I determined that one point on Diamond?s order index was likely to equal 664 comic books — with a 95% probability that the real figure was between 663 and 665.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

2006 comics sales off to roaring start

by John Jackson Miller

January often puts a chill on comics sales, but not this year. Sales of comics to retailers in January were by low double-digits in every category, according to my analysis of the sales reports released by Diamond Comic Distributors on Feb. 17.

Diamond's overall sales of comics, graphic novels, and magazines were up by 10% over last January, with dollar sales for both Diamond's Top 300 comics and Top 100 trade paperbacks up nearly 16%. Click to see the estimates for January 2006.

We used to call this the "Dead Quarter" in part because January would flat-out kill whatever sales momentum had been building in the fall. Not so this year — at least so far.

Comics unit sales: The Top 300 comic books had retailer orders of 5.57 million copies in January 2006, 11% more than January 2005, which had the same number of shipping weeks (four). The increase amounts to about 580,000 copies.

DC's Infinite Crisis #4 took the top slot, moving more than 182,500 copies in January. Marvel had two top-ten debuts, with Ultimate X-Men: Extinction #1 moving 82,700 copies and X-Men: The 198 #1 selling 68,800 copies.

Both Marvel and DC placed the same number of titles — 86 each. While fairly high for a month in which the major publishers have usually pulled back, reorders and titles solicited for earlier months account for part of those totals. For the first time in several months, there were no first-time entries from brand new publishers in the rankings; every publisher making the Top 300 has been there before.

There are no year-to-date totals, obviously — it's just January!

Comics dollar sales: The Top 300 comic books had sales worth $16.61 million in January, up 16% from January 2005, where sales were $13.88 million.

Trade paperbacks: Led by Dark Horse's Serenity, the Top 100 trade paperbacks and graphic novels reported by Diamond had orders worth $3.54 million at full retail in January. That's up nearly half a million dollars, from 2005.

Adding those to the Top 300 comics for the month yields $20.15 million, an increase of 16% over January 2005's total of $16.96 million.

Overall sales: Diamond publishes dollar market shares for its top 20 publishers across all comics, trade paperbacks, and magazines. Knowing the exact total orders of any publisher on that list right down to the oldest backlist item allows you to calculate Diamond's total orders across these product groups.

The January 2006 total was $25.56 million, which increases to $28.21 million, when Diamond's United Kingdom orders are added. The U.S. figure is 10% over the $23.2 million from January 2005.

The slower growth in this overall category relative to the other categories suggests that while the backlist remains a huge portion of sales, in January the frontlist was where it was at.

Market shares: Marvel led DC in Diamond's reported overall unit and dollar market shares. Dark Horse took third in every category but new issue sales, where it nonetheless came within 10,000 copies of catching Image, which released more than twice as many different new issues. IDW has settled in as a solid fifth in the comic-book categories, though Viz still outpaces it when the trade paperback backlist is added.

Price analysis: The average comic book on Diamond's Top 300 list cost $3.21, up from #3.12 in January 2005.

The weighted average price — that is, the cost of the average comic book Diamond sold — was $2.98, up from $2.79 last year. The average price of the comics that made the Top 25 was $2.87.

Clearly higher prices have contributed to January's success, but the 11% increase in copies sold tells us there's more to it than that.

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Friday, January 13, 2006

2005 closes out strong with big December

by John Jackson Miller

Six titles topping the 100,000 copy mark in December helped the comics market close out 2005 with a 7.3% sales increase over 2004, according to my analysis of the sales reports released by Diamond Comic Distributors on Jan. 13. Click to see the December 2005 estimates.

December's strong finish helped propel the market to a $24 million overall increase in 2005 among sales of comic books, trade paperbacks, and magazines. Overall, 2005's U.S. sales stood at $352.33 million, up 7.3% over 2004's total of $328.25 million.

That doesn’t count newsstand sales, subscription sales, or sales of trade paperbacks through bookstores. That would bring 2005 above $400 million, putting us in our best shape since 1996.
 
Comics unit sales: The Top 300 comic books had retailer orders of 6.56 million copies in December, 1% more than December 2004, which had one more shipping week. Even with one less Wednesday, the market moved more comic books. That's a pretty good sign.

In an unusual reversal, Marvel placed 90 items in the Top 300, versus 75 for DC. With a variety of one-shots and items soliciting for previous months shipping, Marvel surpassed DC in a category it usually dominates: volume of releases on the chart.

The highest new publisher debut was MR Comics, whose Revolution on the Planet of the Apes #1 placed 223rd with about 4,500 copies sold. Fenickx Productions placed 278th with Archaic #1 moving 2,300 copies. Narwain rounded out the debuts with Freefall #1 selling 1,900 copies in 294th place.

Diamond sold 76.13 million of its Top 300 comics from each of the 12 months of 2005. That's an increase of 2.3% over 2004's 74.44 million copies.

Comics dollar sales: The Top 300 comic books had sales worth $20.02 million in December, 5% more than in December 2004.

For 2005, the Top 300 comics from each month sold a combined $221.73 million, an increase of 3.9% over 2004, which saw sales of $213.237 million.

Trade paperbacks : The Top 100 trade paperbacks and graphic novels reported by Diamond had orders worth $3.82 million at full retail in December 2005, off 10% from the previous December.
Adding those to the Top 300 comics for the month yields $23.86 million, an increase of 3% over December 2004.

The Top 100 trades for each month in 2005 had first-month orders totaling $45.84 million, up $4.85 million over 2004. That?s an 11.8% increase.

For 2005, the Top 300 comics and the Top 100 trade paperbacks from each month had orders worth $267.57 million, up 5.2% over 2004?s total of $254.36 million.

Diamond's overall sales: Diamond publishes dollar market shares for its top 20 publishers across all comics, trade paperbacks, and magazines. Knowing the exact total orders of any publisher on that list right down to the oldest backlist item allows you to calculate Diamond's total orders across these product groups.?

The December 2005 total was $31.63 million, which increases to $35.04 million, when Diamond?s United Kingdom orders are added. The figure for December is 4% over that of December 2005. Again, overall, 2005's U.S. dales stood at $352.33 million, up 7.3% over 2004's total of $328.25 million.

Much of the growth in trade paperbacks exists here, in this catchall grouping; items not in Diamond's Top 300 comics and Top 100 trades each month accounted for at least $85 million of Diamond's sales in 2005. It's expected that most of that is from trade paperbacks, meaning that the $45 million in first-month sales mentioned above is the tip of a larger iceberg, below.

The "overall" category overstates comics' actual performance to the extent that magazines that do not have comics content are included. The comics publishers' market shares would actually be slightly higher, if ancillary items were removed.

However, the contribution of the magazine sector in general through Diamond appears to have been less significant in 2005 than in 2004. Of some note among magazines is the performance of Wizard, which, according to estimates based on the Diamond chart, sold an estimated 48,100 copies of its issue shipping in December. That compares with 53,700 copies for the issue that shipped in December 2004. That appears to be the first time the publication's sales through Diamond have been below 50,000 copies since its early days. Diamond's chart for December further finds Wizard's gaming title, Inquest, at an estimated 2,140 copies sold, compared with an estimated 5,100 copies for the issue that shipped in December 2004.

It's worth noting that, as with comics and trade paperbacks, not all distribution for magazines is done through Diamond — and, with newsstand, subscription, and direct-to-retailer sales, Diamond is not necessarily the largest sales channel for every magazine vendor.

Market shares: Marvel led DC in Diamond's reported overall unit and dollar market shares in December. Dark Horse came in third in both categories followed by Image.

Price analysis: The average comic book on Diamond?s Top 300 list in December 2005 cost $3.27, up a whopping 19¢ over the same month in 2004.

The weighted average price — that is, the cost of the average comic book Diamond sold — was $3.05, up from $2.90 last year.

The average price of the comics that made the Top 25 was $2.88, up from $2.71 in 2004.

The number of expensive comics with high sales certainly added to the increase in the bottom line in December. Although, again, the number of comic-book units sold was still up.
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