And the first of the Monthly Sales charts is now online here, starting with February 2007. The following report was originally published on CBGXtra:
After a strong January, the comics industry went right ahead and did it again, turning out a February nearly as strong as the five-week month before it, according to Comichron's analysis of the sales reports released by Diamond Comic Distributors on March 19.
The attention surrounding Marvel's Civil War #7, with its 266,000 copies ordered, and its new Dark Tower series, helped retailers make the most of the shortest month. While year-over-year growth slowed from the monumental January, growth in every category continues to track anywhere betwen 11% (for trade paperbacks) to 22% (for Diamond's overall sales).
The growth pace is certainly stronger than we've seen in the first quarter in a decade. Even the big winter events like 1995's "Age of Apocalypse" or 1996's Marvel vs. DC/DC vs. Marvel were set against a collapsing marketplace, so we might be going all the way back to the peak boom year of 1993 to see similar year-over-year growth at this time of year.
The 2007 numbers are a fraction of those in that period — it's the growth rates I'm referring to. We saw a 20% dollar rise in the Top 300 in January 2006 — this is two months averaging at 20%, so it's not like the increase is very new or dramatic. If year-over-year growth were to increase, we might begin to start looking for things like visible growth in the number of comics-shop locations.
A tripling of the number of shops in the early 1990s went along with the tripling of the market's size in three or four short years, but twenty percent's a long way from tripling.
Comics unit sales:
The Top 300 comic books had retailer orders of 6.6 million copies in February, less than 100,000 copies fewer than January and more than half a million copies more than February of 2006. This month's total is 9% over last February's total of 6.05 million copies.
To date, unit sales for the Top 300 each month add up to 13.3 million copies, up 14% over last year's total of 11.62 million copies. Marvel's Civil War #7 topped the list with orders of 259,300 copies. Only 26 publishers placed titles in the Top 300, with new publisher Arcana edging into 300th place with Gearhead #1 at 1,300 copies.
Comics dollar sales:
The Top 300 comic books had sales worth $20.82 million in February, only $60,000 less than the longer month of January. The total is 15% more than last February's total of $18.18 million.
It's the best February total since monthly Diamond Exclusive Era records begin in 1997. To date this year, comics dollar sales stand at $41.7 million, up 20% over last year's total of $34.79 million.
The Top 100 Trade Paperbacks and graphic novels reported by Diamond had orders worth $3.76 million at full retail in February, an increase of 9% over the same month last year, when the figure was $3.45 million. In the year to date, the Top 100 trades frome each month amount to $7.75 million, up 11% over last year's total of $6.99 million. Adding the Top 100 trades to the Top 300 Comics for the month yields $24.58 million, an increase of 14% over the $21.63 million ordered in the same month last year.
In the year to date, this category stands at $49.45 million, up 18% over last year's sum of $41.78 million.
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 2007 total was $32.16 million, which increases to $35.04 million, when Diamond’s estimated United Kingdom orders are added. The figure is up 12% from the $28.64 million ordered in the U.S. in the same month last year. In the year to date, overall sales stand at $49.45 million, up 18% from last year's $41.78 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: DC placed 91 comics in the Top 300 in January to Marvel's 87; nonetheless, Marvel came in first in all categories. Image was in third place in the narrower categories, with Dark Horse third in the overall grouping.
The average comic book on Diamond’s Top 300 list cost $3.25, up from $3.21 in the same month in 2006. The weighted average price – that is, the cost of the average comic book Diamond sold – was $3.15, up from $3.01 last year. The average price of the comics that made the Top 25 was $3.01.
Unit Sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comic Books (est.): 6.6 million copies
Dollar Sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comic Books (est.): $20.82 million
Dollar Sales for Diamond's Top 100 Trade Paperbacks (est.): $3.76 million
Combined Dollar Sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comics and Top 100 TPBs (est.) : $24.58 million
OVERALL U.S. Dollar Sales for Diamond's Comics, Trade Paperbacks, and Magazines (est.): $32.16 million
Average price of comic books in Diamond's Top 300: $3.29
Average price of comic books in Diamond's Top 300, weighted by orders: $3.15