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Snows, fifth week spur January 2007 to big gains

Friday, February 16, 2007

by John Jackson Miller

Saying that the first months of the year are no longer the “dead quarter” they once were in comics is no longer news — but the industry’s mammoth increases in January 2007 seem to qualify, according to analysis of the sales reports released by Diamond Comic Distributors on February 16.

Diamond’s sales overall increased by nearly a third — 32% year over year, with the market posting its best January in dollar terms since 1997. Click to see the estimates for January 2007.



In addition to such events as Civil War and strong year-over-year improvements for several titles, the calendar and the climate played a role. This January had five shipping weeks, versus four in the previous year. And it actually may have had six, in a sense, given the delays in shipping comics to the West Coast due to inclement weather in the final week of 2006.

Several titles shipping the week after Christmas appear to have charted with higher reorders than we might normally expect, suggesting that their sales may have been accounted for in January rather than December. In any event, the 20% increase in unit sales is stellar for a month in which publishers once feared to print. January actually had higher sales than last September — a winter month topping a summer or fall month is close to unheard of.

It will be of interest to note whether the breakneck pace continues in February, when some circumstances are different.

Comics unit sales:
The Top 300 comic books had retailer orders of 6.7 million copies in January, up 20% over January 2006, which had one less shipping week. It is the best January for this category since January 1998.
 
Marvel’s Civil War #6 topped the list with orders of 259,300 copies. For the second month in a row — and highly unusually for a January — only publishers who had made the Top 300 at least once before made the list. No new entries cracked it.

Comics dollar sales:
The Top 300 comic books had sales worth $20.88 million in January, 26% more than the same month last year. It is the best January total since January 1997.
 
Trade paperbacks: The Top 100 Trade Paperbacks and graphic novels reported by Diamond had orders worth $4 million at full retail in January, an increase of 13% over the same month last year. The figure is up from December 2006.

Adding the Top 100 trades to the Top 300 Comics for the month yields $24.88 million, an increase of 23% over the $20.15 million ordered in the same month last year.
 
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 January 2007 total was $33.71 million, which increases to $37 million, when Diamond?s estimated United Kingdom orders are added. The figure is up 32% from the $25.56 million ordered in the U.S. in the same month last year.

Market shares:
DC actually placed more comics in the Top 300 in January than it did in December: 98, one more than last month. Marvel placed 88 titles in the Top 300. Image was in third place in the narrower categories, with Dark Horse third in the overall grouping.
 
Price analysis:
The average comic book on Diamond?s Top 300 list cost $3.26, up from $3.21 in the same month in 2005.
 
The weighted average price — that is, the cost of the average comic book Diamond sold ? was $3.12, up from $2.98 last year. The average price of the comics that made the Top 25 was $3.01.
 

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