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

 

Monday, February 2, 2009

Diamond year-end bestseller lists reveal more about indie rankings

Completing its roundup of 2008, Diamond Comic Distributors has released its rankings for its Top 300 Comics and Top 300 trade paperbacks for the year, as well as final market shares. And, just as it's doing now on a monthly basis, it released a Top 50 Independent list for the year — independent meaning all publishers except for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, and Image.

The market shares were previewed already; they appear above and with their specific numbers on the 2008 monthly-sales page of The Comics Chronicles. (The "monthly sales report" section of the site is a bit of a misnomer: it's really the section where sales information is known on an issue-by-issue level, as opposed to the "yearly" section where it's all title-level sales figures by the year.) Since Diamond did not index these year-end rankings (it never does), the lists are reproduced there as they were provided, with some clean-up work so it's a little easier to plug them into the on-site search engine. These year-end lists for Diamond exist back to 1990 or so; I have most of them and will post them as time allows.

Again, since there are no numbers with these, first-month sales for the individual issues can be found on the individual monthly Top 300 pages (using the search window, presuming Google is indexing right). Adding all numbers found gives you the minimum total for the book in 2008, not counting reorders that missed the Top 300 threshold. Thus the #1 book for the year, Secret Invasion #1, tops the 2008 list with at least 262,000 copies, totalling its sales from April, May, and June. I'd have to check the order codes to see if the Director's Cut sales are included, which would be another 18k or so.

Back to the top-selling indies: because Diamond provided the ordinal ranking numbers, we see where these issues would have appeared had Diamond taken the chart out far enough to find them. The 300th place item on the list, Fantastic Four #557, clocked in at at least 62,700 copies, so anything on the Top 300 sold that or more. All but one issue of the Top 50 Independents fell below that level — and that issue was the Project Superpowers #0 dollar comic. Most of the remaining 49 items on the list are from its publisher, Dynamite (which my database records as Dynamic Forces for cross-year consistency), or from IDW; there is a single entry each from Abstract, Aspen, and Avatar.

The 50th place indie, incidentally, is Red Sonja #29, which in January had orders of approximately 17,700 — with whatever its reorders were, it placed 1,456th overall for the year. That equates, for what it's worth, to roughly eight times the purchase order minimum described in the recent discussion of Diamond's new terms for publishers. In fact, if the benchmark is $6,250 at full retail, of the 3,600 items on the 12 Top 300 Comics lists of 2008, only 25 items wouldn't have cleared the mark — and most of those were Archie books at $2.25 or dollar samplers from the major publishers. Understanding that there's a good deal of duplication in the Top 300 lists because of reorders, this probably still puts 4,000 or more comics (not trades, but comics) items above that mark, given that many of the comics not in the monthly Top 300 would have price points higher that would put them over the line.

As we've seen, the publisher composition of the twelve Top 300 lists also changed a lot in 2008.
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