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August 2009 comics sales remain steady

Monday, September 28, 2009

The sales estimates for August 2009 are now online here; thanks for your patience. August with its four ship weeks managed to look a lot like July with its five, which in recession-ese means "steady as she goes" once again.

The dollar value of all Marvels ordered in the Top 300 Comics and Top 300 Trades was, in fact, almost identical to July’s figure — within a couple of hundred dollars! DC’s performance was very close, as well, slightly beating its July total thanks to the performance of Blackest Night. DC took four of the top 10 slots on the periodical charts.

Dollar sales of the Top 300 trade paperbacks slipped again, off 16% against a very hard comparative month: Watchmen's re-release moved more than 43,000 copies in August 2008.
But combined Top 300 comics and Top 300 trades were up by 1%. Basically, the top comics made up the million dollars the top trades lost. The overall figure is close to flat versus last year for the third month in a row.

There continue to be many more heavily-discounted trades moving through the system this year than last; as in previous recent months, adjustments have been made to the overall estimate to retain as much of an apples-versus-apples comparison as is possible. Slightly more merchandise value at cover price entered the direct market than the $36.15 million figure indicates.

While sales of a number of mainstream titles are finding new lows, in aggregate, unit sales for the Top 300 comics are comfortably ahead of where they were five years ago — and far ahead in dollar terms.

Notable this month is one of the highest rankings of Archie in the direct market age, with its landmark 600th issue (and marriage storyline) landing in 35th place. Archie's overall sales are always understated by the Diamond tables, since it has significant newsstand sales; it's unclear what impact the anniversary issue will have on its newsstand draws, so it's difficult to say how many copies will be in circulation. Of course, Comichron followers know we need only go back forty years this year to find Archie as the #1 title in comics!

The figures:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
August 2009: 6.77 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: -1%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +8%
Versus 10 years ago this month: unchanged
YEAR TO DATE: 49.17 million copies, -8% vs. 2008

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
August 2009: $23.3 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +5%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +30%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +31%
YEAR TO DATE: $167.76 million, -2% vs. 2008

TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
August 2009: $6.73 million
Versus 1 year ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: -16%
Versus 5 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: +18%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +54%
YEAR TO DATE: $53.17 million; down 10% when just comparing just the Top 100 each month

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
August 2009: $30.03 million
Versus 1 year ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: +1%
Versus 5 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: +28%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +33%
YEAR TO DATE: $220.9 million; down 4% when just comparing just the Top 100 each month

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
August 2009: $36.15 million ($39.9 million with UK)
Versus 1 year ago this month: down less than 1%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +31%
YEAR TO DATE: $283.65 million, -1% vs. 2008, +35% vs. 2004

The average comic offered in the Top 300 cost $3.45; the average comic ordered cost $3.44. The median price — the middle price of all 300 comics — was $2.99. $2.99 was also the most common price of comics appearing in the Top 300.

The historical look back at Augusts past will follow in a later post. Stay tuned!

3 comments:

Corey Blake September 29, 2009 at 5:53 PM  

It's kind of amazing to me to see that with all of the big Hollywood movies and increased book store presence and awareness over the last 10 years, we're selling exactly the same number of comic books in North America. It's pretty pathetic that this industry can't increase its audience. The only way it seems it can increase profits is to increase cover prices.

John Jackson Miller September 29, 2009 at 6:01 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Jackson Miller September 29, 2009 at 6:02 PM  

(Corrected post) While I take your meaning, the fact that we're moving the same number of units (and here we're only talking periodicals) likely makes comics the single healthiest sector of magazine publishing. And that's with fewer outlets doing the selling.

On top of that, though, is hundreds of millions of dollars in trade paperback sales that did not exist in 1999, in places that did not sell comics in any form back then. In those terms, the industry is well ahead in the outreach department.

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