Save 20-35% on Marvel Pre-Orders at TFAW.com
Search Comichron for comics sales reports!
Loading

The print age of Wizard ends

Monday, January 24, 2011

by John Jackson Miller

As Comics Buyer's Guide reports, Wizard magazine is suspending publication of its print version immediately, turning to a digital format in February.

Wizard came on the scene in the early 1990s with a bang, capturing — and contributing — to the boom period in comics with its attention on new publishers, its monthly price guide, and its high production values. The self-titled "Wizard Age" of comics was bound up tightly with the themes of that era: from hot new creators at Image to comics hot with speculator interest.

Wizard copies sold by Diamond, 1998-2006
The end of the print publication comes at the end of a long period of circulation declines. (The graphic shows 1998 to 2006, the period in which I was tracking it monthly based on Diamond's reporting.) The magazine's preorders in the direct market were higher than 100,000 copies for years; the last month it broke that mark was in October 1998, for #87. The magazine dipped below 50,000 copies in the direct market for the first time in late 2005, just after a price increase to $5.99. Direct market orders for #233 in December, the last issue for which full Diamond orders are available, were close to 17,000 copies. These figures are certainly not the only copies Wizard sold; the publication had heavy circulation through the newsstand for many years. But that distribution system has seen hardships of its own.

I saw Wizard from an unusual perspective, working as an editor at Krause Publications' trade magazine and later as editorial director of the Comics and Games Division. Comics Buyer's Guide was twenty years old when Wizard came on the scene,  and for the years while I was there, Wizard really was our Moby Dick. It needn't have been — our business model as a newsprint shopper's guide was completely different, and many of their advertisers would never have bought into our publications or vice versa. Our readerships were worlds apart. But that didn't stop the corporation from wanting to find ways to compete with it, anyway.

A famous in-house story involved a meeting in the early 1990s in which Krause executives asked the CBG publisher what it would cost to transform the weekly newspaper into something that could compete with Wizard head-to-head. When the publisher provided his estimates of what it cost to produce a single issue of Wizard — from the full-color printing to the paper quality to the comparatively high freelance rates — the room erupted in incredulous laughter from the higher-ups. The production costs were astronomical, compared to what hobby publishers were paying. Krause didn't yet have a single magazine designed fully on computer — my Comics Retailer was the first, in 1994 — and the freelance budget was minuscule by comparison. (CBG, which hits its 40th anniversary in February, would remain a weekly newspaper until the conversion to a monthly magazine with limited color in 2004.)

But while there would be no head-to-head competition, the presence of Wizard did provide a great example of what was possible for a comics magazine, and it definitely caused us to work harder. Many resources were contributed to the comics division that might otherwise not have been available, if not for Wizard's example. It'll be interesting to see how the electronic version fares — but the end of the print publication represents the end of an interesting era for the industry. Best wishes to those involved with the print publication in the future!

Read more...

Diamond expands 2010 lists with non-Premier top sellers

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

by John Jackson Miller

Yesterday, Diamond released its Top 500 comics and trades, extended on Comichron here to the Top 1000s in each case; this post described the process. Today, in line with Diamond's monthly release of supplemental lists of items sold by "non-Premier" (or back-of-the-catalog) publishers Diamond has added the top 200 comics and top 200 trades from non-front-of-the-catalog publishers. 

This adds 192 items to the comics list, stretching all the way down to 2,231st place. The graphic novel list adds 44 more items. The order index number for multiplying is 632, the same as for December 2010; thus, the 2,331rd-place item, Dynamite's Red Sonja Annual #3, had orders of 8,140 copies.

I won't be adding these lists to the site, as the list is long enough already, but with it we can more confidently extrapolate a few extensions to our list:

26 comics had orders of over 100,000 copies in 2010
68 comics had orders of 75,000-99,999 copies in 2010
209 comics had orders of 50,000-74,999 copies in 2010
648 comics had orders of 25,000-49,999 copies in 2010
Approximately 245 comics had orders of 20,000-24,999 copies in 2010
Approximately 313 comics had orders of 15,000-19,999 copies in 2010
Approximately 519 comics had orders of 10,000-14,999 copies in 2010

So everything in the Top 2000 had orders above 10,000 copies. Totaled, we find the following:

Top 1000 Comics units: 45.3 million copies
Second 1000 Comics units: 15.8 million copies
Non-Top 2000 comics which made the Monthly Top 300: 8.2 million copies
Top 1000 Comics dollars: $160 million
Second 1000 Comics dollars: $57 million
Non-Top 2000 comics which made the Monthly Top 300: $29 million

We know what's outside the Top 2,000 because we've seen 3,600 entries in Diamond's Top 300 each month. However, that grouping is something less than 3,600, because of reordered comics which reappear (and would, thus, be combined into a single entry). Clearly, however, the first grouping accounts for nearly triple the comics and dollars of the second grouping.

Read more...

2000 for 2010: The Top 1000 Comics and Top 1000 Trades

Monday, January 10, 2011

by John Jackson Miller

Diamond Comic Distributors has released on its site its lists of Top 500 Comics and Top 500 trade paperbacks and graphic novels for 2010, following up its release of just the Top 10s last week. As I did last year, I have combined that information with my own estimates of aggregated sales of comics and trades throughout the year — now complete, with the addition today of December 2010 — to project longer lists, with estimates: the Top Thousand Comics and the Top Thousand Trades and Graphic Novels for 2010.

The page is pretty hefty so it may take a few seconds to load; 2,000 table items is likely too many for one page, but I'd need to fission off trades into a new architecture. I have rounded each entry to the nearest hundred copies, as before.

The Top Thousand Comics is a significant subset, in the sense that they account for 45.3 million copies, or well over half of all comic books Diamond sold. In retail dollars, they sold for $160 million. The Top Thousand Trades is a big chunk as well, worth more than $64 million. Combined, these two lists alone account for more than half the orders by dollars Diamond received in publishing last year.

Who published the Top Thousand Comics? Here's the breakdown:
Marvel: 554
DC: 406
Image: 14
Dark Horse: 12
Dynamite: 7
IDW: 6
Archie: 1

And here's the publisher breakdown of the Top Thousand Graphic Novels:

DC: 351
Marvel: 290
Dark Horse: 121
Image: 65
Viz: 35
Random House: 19
IDW: 17
Boom: 12
Dynamite: 10
Oni: 7
Hachette: 6
Archie, Avatar, Fantagraphics, Scholastic, and Zenescope: 5 each


 ...then assorted others combined for 42 entries.

Within the Top Comics list for the year, we find the following breakdowns for unit sales:

26 comics had orders of over 100,000 copies in 2010
68 comics had orders of 75,000-99,999 copies in 2010
209 comics had orders of 50,000-74,999 copies in 2010
648 comics had orders of 25,000-49,999 copies in 2010

I only ran the Top 500 comics in 2009, so we can only comparing the top three categories directly:

39 comics had orders of over 100,000 copies in 2009
80 comics had orders of 75,000-99,999 copies in 2009
260 comics had orders of 50,000-74,999 copies in 2009

So that's declines in every grouping, supporting my contention about the flattening of the curve at the front part of the list described here before. There well could be a point on the list where the 2010 entries are outselling the 2009 entries, but I would have had to take both lists out rather far. If it's the comics at the bottom of the Top 300 that are doing slightly better, those wouldn't appear on an aggregated annual list until closer to the 3,000s.

How many of these comics would have placed in the Top 300 comics for the last decade? Nine, it appears — with 2010's top comic book placing 51st.

The average price of comics in Diamond's Top 1,000 comics for 2010 was $3.52; the median price was $3.99. Last year, the mean for the Top 500 was $3.42, with a median price of $2.99.

There are other years of Diamond annual reports on the site; the earliest posted is 1992, which is the earliest listing I can find. More of the end-of-year lists since then will be added in the future, but monthly reports now exist on the site from 1995 onward.

Update: As seen here, Diamond has expanded its lists still further with its non-Premier publisher top sellers.

Read more...

December 2010 sales up overall, but record low at chart top

by John Jackson Miller
Diamond has released its full Top 300 lists for December, as well as posting online its Top 500s for the year, incorporated here and addressed in another post, thus completing the picture for the year. Click to see the Top 300 comics and trades for the month.
 
Preliminary estimates for December were confirmed in that no title for the month topped the 100,000 mark, and in fact, the top-seller, Batman: The Dark Knight #1, landed at almost exactly 90,000 copies, marking an all-time record low for a top-seller. First-month sales were actually 10,000 copies less than last month's top seller, another Batman first issue priced at a dollar more. However, it's unclear how Diamond's holiday schedule figures into things.  (Revision: There was a shipment on Dec. 29; it was in 2009 that Dec. 30 was a skip week. I indeed live in the past!)

As this is the sixth month with the top-seller in five figures and the fourth time in five months for it, the 100,000 figure may seem a less useful benchmark for the future — but given how much higher sales roles off the lows of 2000 (numbers that were not much different than these), it's not time to put it away just yet.

We're still looking at high unit sales levels for the 300th-place item — 3,811 copies for a comic book priced at $7.99 (!), the third-highest unit sales for the cut-off item all year. That said, the sales fall off fairly quickly just a dozen items after that in the list, with the 313th-place item at just over 3,300 copies.

The aggregate totals for December, and the year:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
December 2010: 5.56 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: -12%
Versus 5 years ago this month: -15%
Versus 10 years ago this month: unchanged
4th Quarter 2010: 18.66 million copies, -10% vs. 2009
2010 Year-End: 69.2 million copies, -8% vs. 2009, -9% vs. 2005, unchanged vs. 2000

ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
December 2010 versus one year ago this month: -10.69%
2010 Year-End: -5.91%

---

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
December 2010: $20.33 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -10%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +2%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +29%
4th Quarter 2010: $61.39 million, -6% vs. 2009
2010 Year-End: $245.72 million, -5% vs. 2009, +11% vs. 2005, +29% vs. 2000

ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
December 2010 versus one year ago this month: -7.45%
2010 Year-End: -4.65%

---

TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
December 2010: $6.52 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +24%
Versus 5 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: unchanged
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +42%
4th Quarter 2010: $20.83 million, +20% vs. 2009
2010 Year-end: $76.31 million, -2% vs. 2009
 
ALL TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
December 2010 versus one year ago this month: +26.74%
2010 Year-End: -1.02%

---

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
December 2010: $26.85 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -3%
Versus 5 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: -1%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: -4%
4th Quarter 2010: $82.23 million, -1% vs. 2009
2010 Year-end: $321.98 million, -4% vs. 2009

ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
December 2010 versus one year ago this month: +2.2%
2010 Year-End: -3.48%

---

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
December 2010: approximately $36.5 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +2%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +15%
4th Quarter 2010: $109.05 million, +4% vs. 2009
2010 Year-end: $418.63 million, -3% vs. 2009

The average comic book in Diamond’s Top 300 cost $3.74. The average Top 300 comic book that retailers ordered from Diamond cost $3.65. The median comic book price in Diamond’s Top 300 was $3.99, and the most common cover price on Diamond’s list was also $3.99.

Be sure to check out the Top Sellers for 2010 — it's a big list!

Read more...

2010 ends on an up quarter thanks to graphic novels

Friday, January 7, 2011

by John Jackson Miller


Amid the rollout of end-of-year reports for 2010, Diamond Comic Distributors released its top sellers for December 2010 on Friday, as well as the specific category breakdowns. Find the list of December 2010 top-sellers here.

Diamond CEO Steve Geppi had spoken of improvement in the fourth quarter in that end-of-year announcement, and there was a year-to-year increase in the fourth quarter of nearly 2% in dollar sales of comics and trade paperbacks, thanks to a large increase in trade paperback sales over the three-month period. After a few years in which comics periodical sales grew more than trade paperback sales — and several months this year in which trade paperback orders suffered against Watchmen-inflated comparisons from 2009 — the market seems to have returned to the dynamic that helped it in its last recovery, early in the 2000s. Bound edition sales have rebounded — thanks in some part this year to the media-helped success of Walking Dead, Scott Pilgrim, and Kick-Ass — and that has helped the market improve against losses on the periodical side. Fables Vol. 14 was the top collected edition for the month.


Not a peace sign, but the Dollar Shares for December
Looking specifically at December, Batman: The Dark Knight #1 led the charts in a month in which comics periodical orders were down by nearly 11%. With these aggregate figures and with Dark Knight at $3.99, expectations would be this is probably another top-seller with unit sales in the high five-figures, rather than low six-figures. Eight of the top ten titles were published by DC — which led in dollar share by a slight margin.  Looking at previous sales, we have the prospect of the top Marvel coming in under 75,000 in first-month sales.

But trade paperback and graphic novel sales were up 26.74% year-over-year, a remarkable amount. That was enough to put December into the black, overall, with total comics and trade dollars up 2.2%. The aggregate totals:

Total comics unit sales:
Versus 1 year ago this month: -10.68%
Fourth quarter 2010 versus 2009: -8.72%
2010 final, vs. 2009: -5.91%

Total comics dollar sales:
Versus 1 year ago this month: -7.45%
Fourth quarter 2010 versus 2009: -4.72%
2010 final, vs. 2009: -4.65%

Total trade paperback and graphic novel unit sales:
Versus 1 year ago this month: +26.24%
Fourth quarter 2010 versus 2009: +23.27%
2010 final, vs. 2009: -1.52%
 
Total trade paperback and graphic novel dollar sales:
Versus 1 year ago this month: +26.74%
Fourth quarter 2010 versus 2009: +16.96%
2010 final, vs. 2009: -1.02%
 
Total comic, trade paperback and graphic novel unit sales:
Versus 1 year ago this month: -8.11%
Fourth quarter 2010 versus 2009: -6.36%
2010 final, vs. 2009: -5.54%

Total comic, trade paperback and graphic novel dollar sales:
Versus 1 year ago this month: +2.20%
Fourth quarter 2010 versus 2009: +1.74%
2010 final, vs. 2009: -3.48%

Fables Vol. 14: WitchesAgain, trade paperback and graphic novel orders appear to have rebounded nicely in the fourth quarter, and if trades were a larger share of the $415 million direct market, that would count for more; while they've grown, TPBs account for about a third of dollars in comics shops, whereas they're almost the whole ballgame in mass-market bookstores. It'll be interesting to see from the Bookscan numbers for 2010 how the needle's moved in the mass market.

There will be more to come, here, as Diamond releases its larger lists of top-sellers for December and for 2010 overall; we're also working up our own aggregated data as in the past.

Read more...

Comics orders off 3.5% in 2010; direct market at $415 million

Thursday, January 6, 2011

by John Jackson Miller

Diamond Comic Distributors announced today that annual sales of comic books, graphic novels, and magazines to the comic book specialty market declined slightly in 2010, down 3.5% from 2009. The report for December hasn't been made public yet, but The Comics Chronicles expects that the overall total for comics, graphic novels, and magazines sold to comics shops in North America will come to between $410 and $420 million. The figure is down from the 2008 peak of $437 million, but still above $400 million, a mark broken in 2007.


Diamond President and CEO Steve Geppi said that while sales for the year were down, there have been "a lot of positive signs in the last quarter. Sales have steadily picked up and most retailers reported better than average holiday shopping sales. We believe comic books and graphic novels offer a great entertainment value for consumers, and 2011 is shaping up with some very exciting and creative storylines and titles from the industry’s top publishers.”

As I predicted, Marvel's re-relaunched Avengers #1, which released in May, was the top-selling comic book of 2010 in comics shops. The title had first-month sales of nearly 164,000 copies, and a projected after-reorders total near 175,000 copies. Given that, the issue would rank around 51st in the list of the top comics of the 21st century. All ten titles in the top 10 this year would have made that list, with Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne #1's total with reorders likely close to 120,000 copies.  The Top 10, as provided:


Rank
Title
Price
Publisher
1
Avengers #1
$3.99
Marvel
2
X-Men #1
$3.99
Marvel
3
Blackest Night #8
$3.99
DC
4
Siege #1
$3.99
Marvel
5
Blackest Night #7
$3.99
DC
6
New Avengers #1
$3.99
Marvel
7
Brightest Day #0
$3.99
DC
8
Brightest Day #1
$2.99
DC
9
Siege #2
$3.99
Marvel
10
Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne #1
$3.99
DC

Walking Dead Vol. 1 led the top trade paperback and graphic novels for the year, with projected sales of nearly 44,000 copies. The Walking Dead line, along with similarly media-promoted Scott Pilgrim, dominated the top-sellers list:


Rank
Title
Price
Publisher
1
$9.99
Image
2
Kick-AssKick Ass Premium HC
$24.99
Marvel
3
The Walking Dead Volume 11: Fear The HuntersWalking Dead Vol. 11: Fear the Hunters
$14.99
Image
4
Scott Pilgrim Volume 6: Scott Pilgrim's Finest HourScott Pilgrim Vol. 6: Finest Hour
$11.99
Oni
5
Superman: Earth OneSuperman Earth One HC
$19.99
DC
6
Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 1: Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little LifeScott Pilgrim Vol. 1: Precious Little Life
$11.99
Oni
7
Walking Dead Volume 12Walking Dead Vol. 12: Life Among Them
$14.99
Image
8
The Walking Dead Volume 2: Miles Behind Us (v. 2)Walking Dead Vol. 2: Miles Behind Us
$14.99
Image
9
The Walking Dead Volume 13Walking Dead Vol. 13: Too Far Gone
$14.99
Image
10
Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 2: Scott Pilgrim Versus The World (v. 2)Scott Pilgrim Vol. 2: Versus the World
$11.99
Oni

Notably, with the exception of Superman, the traditional super-heroes are absent from the top-sellers list — but that may in part be a consequence of price point, given the number of items below $12 on the list. Most collections of mainstream comics are priced above that.

Diamond reported that Marvel led the Dollar and Unit market shares for the year, with DC second and Dark Horse third in all categories, followed by Image, IDW, and Dynamite:
 

DOLLAR SHARE
UNIT SHARE
Marvel
38.23%
43.35%
DC
30.39%
34.00%
Dark Horse
5.17%
3.88%
Image
4.53%
3.71%
IDW
4.08%
3.45%
Dynamite
2.65%
2.52%
Boom
1.95%
1.77%
Viz
1.42%
0.68%
Eaglemoss
0.82%
0.20%
Avatar
0.70%
0.50%
Other
10.07%
5.95%


Eaglemoss is a publisher of action-figure magazines, many of which are bound with exclusive action figures, explaining its presence high on the dollar-share list.

As I mentioned in The Beat's year in review, this was a rougher year for the comics market, as some of the momentum that carried us through 2009’s general recession was spent. The result is that 2010 looked much like 2000, a year in which cash-strapped retailers ordered very conservatively when it came to additional copies for the shelf. Today, publishers are using digital promotions as a way to help readers sample titles, but it of course helps growth to have actual print copies in stock to drive that reader to.

With the digital share still small (but growing), the engine of recovery in comics remains, as it has been since the late 1970s, the direct market. More than half of industry sales are in comics shops, and there is no recovery in the industry without growth in the spending power of those shops — and in the number of those shops. While the general economy’s effect on comics sales is not always easy to trace, its effect on prospective retailers’ ability to get financing for new locations is clear-cut. So external forces could have a bigger than usual impact in 2011: a rising tide would help our little fleet more than normal.

Diamond traditionally puts out a longer list of the year's best-sellers; the earliest one, from 1992, is now on the site. The full list will be added to our 2010 page when it becomes available.

Read more...

The Beat's Year in Review

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

by John Jackson Miller

Quick note: I am interviewed over in Heidi MacDonald's 2010 Year-in-Review, covering some elements regarding the health of the industry this past year and touching on the role of the growing digital market.

Read more...

Recent Comments

Faraway Looks: The Blog of John Jackson Miller

  © Blogger template The Professional Template II by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP