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Market share and performance graphics up to date

Monday, August 29, 2011

by John Jackson Miller

One of the sections of the site that I haven't been able to get to as often as I would like is the Vital Statistics section, with its graphics of comics sales across time in the comics shop market. In fact, as my writing schedule has grown busier, some of the graphics hadn't been updated in more than a year. With a lot of media inquiries lately — including American Public Media's Marketplace, where I'm told my interview will be airing tomorrow — I have now brought all the graphics on the site up to the current month.

OVERALL sales of comics and graphic novels to comics shops
in dollars, from 2003-2011
There are tracks for all years for which I have data for the comics shop market; for just the last three years, coinciding with the recession in the general economy, and for market shares for the major publishers.

There is a lot of interest from casual observers into the comics market these days, with the DC relaunch; it's worth looking at all of these graphics to really get a sense for the nuances of the market. There's no one big narrative, as the story is somewhat different depending on which statistic you’re looking at. The trade paperback and graphic novel track on the all-time page has tended to go up and up. New comics orders slid drastically in the 1990s as shops established during the bubble market (when there were lots of distributors, and  credit to open shops was easy to get) but began improving in the 2000s, peaking in 2007 as a kind of "big storyline event exhaustion" set in among customers.

SALES of the top-selling graphic novels and trade paperbacks
to comics shops in dollars, from 1999-2011
And the major new phenomenon, the changing shape of how comics sales break down across titles, isn't really depicted graphically in these images at all. The sales charts used to be dominated by a smaller number blockbusters coming from the major publishers; a lot of that volume has been redistributed across a larger number of middle and lower-tier books by large and middle-tier publishers. And so we see a very strange measure, sales for the 300th place title, going to record highs.

So it really does help to take a look around at some of the other measures here on the site, as no single one tells the whole story. Look for these other tables here; a couple could still use updating, but most are up to date:

MARKET SHARES for publishers in comics shops,
1997-2011
Top Sellers by Month: #1 comics each month as reported by Diamond Comic Distributors and Heroes World Distribution

Top 300 Comics of the 2000s: A list of the top-selling comics at Diamond from 2000 to 2009, based on merging reports for individual issues

Number of Comics Placed in Top 300 by Publisher: Month-by-month and average yearly counts of comics ranking in Diamond's Top 300 for several large publishers

Comics Sales Records: Sales records for comics in the Diamond Exclusive Era, 1997-present
 
NEW! Average cover prices of comics sold each month by Diamond Comic Distributors

NEW! Median Cover Prices by Year: Median cover prices of comics each year by all publishers, and by Marvel, DC, and Archie, 1961-2005

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