Monday, January 5, 2009
Following up on the last post about January in comics, I ran a quick check on something we don't always look at. I focus mostly on year-over-year changes — this December versus last December, that sort of thing — because there tends to be a lot of volatility from month to month with books that don't ship or double-ship. A better way to handle those kinds of micro-trend analyses is to look across a title, like John Mayo does and like we did with the Standard Catalogs, rather than by the calendar.
Still, the mention of December-to-January drops raises the question of what kinds of drops we're talking about. So here's the estimated change within the Top 300 comics dollar sales from December to January from 1997 to 2007:
December 1996 to January 1997: -15.3%
December 1997 to January 1998: -27.7%
December 1998 to January 1999: -15.2%
December 1999 to January 2000: -18.5%
December 2000 to January 2001: -8.9%
December 2001 to January 2002: -3.6%
December 2002 to January 2003: -4.8%
December 2003 to January 2004: -19.9%
December 2004 to January 2005: -26.7%
December 2005 to January 2006: -17.0%
December 2006 to January 2007: -4.8%
December 2007 to January 2008: -7.0%
And then to throw in trades, here's the estimated total change in total direct market dollars counting all comics, trade paperbacks, and magazines sold by Diamond:
December 2003 to January 2004: -23.7%
December 2004 to January 2005: -23.3%
December 2005 to January 2006: -19.1%
December 2006 to January 2007: +0.3%
December 2007 to January 2008: -3.7%
That January 2007 included Civil War #6, whereas December 2006 had no Civil War issue (underlining what I said about month-to-month variance). I also recall some hinkiness with what ship days were included with January's data that month. Conversely, the big January 2005 drop comes partially from New Avengers and Ultimates 2 launching and Identity Crisis concluding in December 2004.
December also sees some of the holiday-season ordering, although most of that seems to show up on November's tallies.
In any event, the historical odds are strongly with a drop, and perhaps a double-digit drop, from December to January as the traditional "dead quarter" gets underway. The dead quarter wasn't much in evidence in some recent years, particularly year-over-year; that's something to be hoped for this time out.