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Million more comics ordered in March 2011 than March 2001

Monday, May 2, 2011

by John Jackson Miller

Apologies for the delay in getting the estimated orders for March 2011 comics online here — website maintenance gave way last month to home maintenance, as Wisconsin's water table decided to come to the surface to take a look around. (Fortunately, your Comichron curator had already learned the lesson of many collectors before him: store all comics on the second floor!)

At any rate, there is not a lot to add to the preliminary report for March 2011, which noted that DC's price rollbacks were impacting the charts in several ways. We now can see that $3.43 was the average price of Diamond's Top 300 comics titles — as well as the average price weighted by orders. The median price for comics in the Top 300 was $2.99, and the most common price was, as well.

One consequence of the presence of so many comics below $3 in the top of the charts is that the Top 300 represented a smaller portion of Diamond's overall sales than it usually does. Diamond's Top 300 titles saw a dollar sales drop of 4%, but that went down to 2.43% when the rest of the list was included. (Items after 300th place are typically more expensive than those higher up.) And in units, the fact that volume is being distributed more evenly meant that the Top 300's 2% loss became a 0.81% gain once the lower-ranked titles were included. The 300th place comic book, Ardden's Grim Ghost #1, had orders of 4,499 copies in March — the fourth-highest total for a comic book in that ranking in the Diamond Exclusive Era.

One interesting sidelight of that is that we're getting into some really impressive unit-sales comparatives against a decade past, now: the Direct Market sold a full million fewer copies of the Top 300 comics in March 2001. Comparing the two lists is interesting, because we see how volume has shifted:

#1 comic book in March 2001: 105,248 copies
#1 comic book in March 2011: 114,472 copies

#10 comic book in March 2001: 67,382 copies
#10 comic book in March 2011: 62,714 copies

#100 comic book in March 2001: 18,840 copies
#100 comic book in March 2011: 20,768 copies

#200 comic book in March 2001: 3,329 copies
#200 comic book in March 2011: 9,525 copies

#300 comic book in March 2001: 787 copies
#300 comic book in March 2011: 4,499 copies

Granted, the March 2001 figures do not include reorders from that month; they'd shrink the million-copy difference by perhaps a third. But still, the volume in the lower part of the list really has grown. The 300th place title in March 2011 would have placed 189th in March 2001!

Why? Again, more prolific major publishers, and more mid-range publishers, period. Marvel had a puny 39 titles in the Top 300 in March 2001 (heading toward a modern-era low of 33 titles in May); this March, it placed 114 titles. Dynamic Forces went from placing three titles in March 2001 to placing 16 — and IDW, with 20 titles on the 2011 list, wasn't there at all ten years earlier.

More of the same ongoing transformation, but once we get fully into Marvel's biweekly shipping this summer, things could really get interesting.

The aggregate figures:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
March 2011: 5.94 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: -2%
Versus 5 years ago this month: -15%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +21%
YEAR TO DATE: 15.51 million copies, -9% vs. 2010, -17% vs. 2006, +2% vs. 2001

ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
March 2011 versus one year ago this month: +0.81%
YEAR TO DATE: -8.05%

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TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
March 2011: $20.38 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -4%
Versus 5 years ago this month: -5%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +50%
YEAR TO DATE: $53.8 million, -9% vs. 2010, -4% vs. 2006, +30% vs. 2001

ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
March 2011 versus one year ago this month: -2.43%
YEAR TO DATE: -8.57%

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TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
March 2011: $5.17 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -19%
Versus 5 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: -26%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: -28%
YEAR TO DATE: $14.92 million, -11% vs. 2010

ALL TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
March 2011 versus one year ago this month: -10.01%
YEAR TO DATE: -7.24%

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TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
March 2011: $25.55 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -8%
Versus 5 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: -9%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +42%
YEAR TO DATE: $68.71 million, -10% vs. 2010

ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
March 2011 versus one year ago this month: -4.98%
YEAR TO DATE: -8.14%

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OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
March 2011: approximately $33.56 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: -5%
Versus 5 years ago this month: -4%
YEAR TO DATE: $89.75 million, -8% vs. 2010

Again, sorry for the delay. April 2011 reporting should be starting later this week.

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