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Seventh straight year of growth for industry in 2007

Sunday, January 27, 2008

by John Jackson Miller

The comics industry saw its seventh consecutive year of increased sales to comics shops in 2007. Sales to retailers increased in every category tracked, including comic book units, which rose 4% to their highest level since 1997. Overall, Diamond Comic Distributors' sales of comic books and trade paperbacks to comics shops in North America were just shy of $430 million, up nearly $35 million over 2006. Click to see the December 2007 estimates.

I estimate the figure to be the highest for the direct market since at least 1995, which was the second year of the fall-off from 1993's astronomical market peak. Growth in trade paperback sales appears to have outpaced that of comic books in the direct market, resuming the trend seen briefly earlier in the decade.

Final 2007 statistics, along with fourth-quarter and December comparatives:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
December 2007: 7.03 million copies, up 1%
Q4 2007: 21.12 million copies, up less than 1%
2007 FINAL: 85.27 million comic books, up 4%

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
December 2007: $22.61 million, up 3%
Q4 2007: $67.28 million, up 3%
2007 FINAL: $270 million, up 7%

TOP 100 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
December 2007: $4.22 million, up 11%
Q4 2007: $15.72 million, up 15%
2007 FINAL: $57.15 million, up 18%

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 100 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
December 2007: $26.83 million, up 4%
Q4 2007: $82.99 million, up 5%
2007 FINAL: $327.1 million, up 9%

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
December 2007: $35.88 million, up 7%
Q4 2007: $111.1 million, up 7%
2007 FINAL: $429.9 million, up 9%

The average price of comic books also increased again, to a weighted average of $3.17 for the year.

The statistics estimate Diamond’s sales only. It is important to note what these numbers are and what they are not. The estimated $429.9 million includes every comic book, trade paperback, and magazine sold by Diamond Comic Distributors to its retail customers in North America. It does not count sales overseas. It does not count sales by other distributors through convenience stores, newsstands, and, importantly, mass-market bookstores. The latter category’s contribution is considerable.

And there is no guarantee that the comics shops actually sold all these comics — although sell-through rates today are far higher than they were in, say, the early 1990s, when many copies went unsold. 1993 had a single quarter with single-copy sales to shops rivaling the sales for the whole year of 2007 — yet, as many around at that time know, many of those comics did not wind up being purchased, much less read.

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