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February 2010 comics orders show little movement

Monday, March 15, 2010

by John Jackson Miller    Bookmark and Share

Just back from Midsouthcon, where we had some interesting panels on the past, present, and future of comics. So it'll be a bit before I get all the pieces of the February 2010 report online — the Flashbacks section will be on the way in a bit, and the Overall sales estimate will be refined. But for now, you can see the February 2010 estimates for comics ordered by retailers here on the site.

February usually finds comics sales in a deep freeze. This month had at least something going on in that both Marvel and DC's main event titles, Siege and Blackest Night, had new issues out, but in sum it was the weakest month for Top 300 comics unit and dollar orders since last March, and the worst February for unit sales since 2004. And while the Top 300 trade paperbacks actually topped the dollar value reported last February — that even during a huge Watchmen month — that month's sales are suspected to have been underreported due to Diamond's warehouse move.

The full backlist, as with last month, is believed to have pushed Overall Comics, Trade Paperbacks, and Magazine dollar orders into positive territory, but that again is a preliminary figure. I suspect the final total may come in a bit lower, but in any event we're probably looking at another month where the total difference from last year isn't that large. (Update: The final estimates are in, with slight downward revisions as expected — less than 1% difference, overall. The estimates appear below.)

The aggregate figures:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
February 2010: 5.38 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: -4%
Versus 5 years ago this month: -8%
Versus 10 years ago this month: -1%
YEAR TO DATE: 11.01 million copies, -2% vs. 2009, +2% vs. 2005, unchanged vs. 2000

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
February 2010: $18.70 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -3%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +12%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +29%
YEAR TO DATE: $38.06 million, -1% vs. 2009, +24% vs. 2005, +32% vs. 2000

TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
February 2010: $5.1 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +1%
Versus 5 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: -5%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +33%
YEAR TO DATE: $10.35 million; -8% versus 2009

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
February 2010: $23.81 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -2%
Versus 5 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: +9%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +30%
YEAR TO DATE: $48.42 million; -2% when just comparing just the Top 100 each month

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
February 2010: $29.98 million ($33.16 million with UK)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +4%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +13%
YEAR TO DATE: $61.99 million, +3% vs. 2009, +24% vs. 2005


The average comic offered in the Top 300 cost $3.54; the average comic ordered cost $3.47. The median price — the middle price of all 300 comics — was $3.50. $2.99 was the most common price of comics appearing in the Top 300.

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 (The Twilight Saga)March holds some added interest in that the first Yen Press Twilight manga is in the mix. It's unclear what the Direct Market impact will be, and at $10, the market will have to move quite a few to move the needle significantly. But March 2009 was, as noted, a lighter month overall, with the top comic book selling under 100,000 copies for the first time in comics history — and there remain issues about how complete the reporting of trades were that month. So there's room for a book making a big splash to make a bigger difference year-to-year.

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