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Price rollbacks visible as March 2011 comics sales slip slightly

Friday, April 8, 2011

by John Jackson Miller


The unusual situation behind January's sales reports resulted in a fair-sized gap for the comics industry to close, which it began to do in February. March, however, faced a tougher comparative month from last year — when Blackest Night concluded —  and was not able to help regain territory except in the comic unit sales category, according to figures released by Diamond Comic Distributors. Click to see the Top 100 comic books and trade paperbacks for March 2011.

That unit sales/dollar sales difference may, however, be the more interesting part of the story, however, as it demonstrates that the price rollback at DC is having an impact on the overall bottom line. While unit sales for comics were up by less than 1% in March, led by FF #1, they were down 2.43% in dollar terms. The quarterly unit-to-dollar gap in periodicals was wider, with a sales loss of nearly 1% in units versus a 5% loss in dollar terms. In the past inflationary periods, we always saw the dollar category doing better than units. Now, the reverse is happening. The price drop does seem to be more visible this month, with $3.36 the average price of comics in the Top 100 and $2.99 the most common price. We'll see how those figures hold up for the full Top 300 when it is released next week.

The Unwritten Vol. 3: Dead Man's KnockThe entire market was down nearly 5% in March year-over-year, with graphic novels, led by The Unwritten Vol. 3,  taking the largest tumble, again up against a heavy hitter from last year in the Kick-Ass hardcover. The comparative statistics:


COMPARATIVE SALES STATISTICS

DOLLARS
UNITS
MARCH 2011 VS. FEBRUARY 2011
COMICS
17.13%
18.97%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
13.86%
18.38%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
16.07%
18.93%
MARCH 2011 VS. MARCH 2010
COMICS
-2.43%
0.81%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
-10.01%
-16.61%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
-4.98%
-0.81%
FIRST QUARTER 2011 VS. FIRST QUARTER 2010
COMICS
-8.57%
-8.05%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
-7.24%
-13.25%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
-8.14%
-8.49%



Marvel led the other publishers again in both dollar and unit market shares:

TOP COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS
PUBLISHER
DOLLAR
SHARE
UNIT
SHARE
MARVEL COMICS
39.63%
45.28%
DC COMICS
27.62%
31.50%
IMAGE COMICS
5.45%
5.09%
IDW PUBLISHING
5.03%
4.14%
DARK HORSE COMICS
4.27%
2.86%
DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
3.02%
2.74%
BOOM! STUDIOS
2.09%
1.66%
VIZ MEDIA
1.15%
0.50%
AVATAR PRESS
0.96%
0.80%
EAGLEMOSS PUBLICATIONS LTD
0.88%
0.22%
OTHER NON-TOP 10
9.90%
5.20%

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