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John Jackson Miller and other pop culture archaeologists interested in comics history.

 

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
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