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Full August 2011 comics sales estimates now online

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

by John Jackson Miller


Diamond Comic Distributors today released the full charts for comics ordered by shops in North America for August, and the full estimates are now online here at Comichron.

As mentioned yesterday, this month in which most DC comics concluded their continuity in advance of the "New 52" reboot was a very strong one relative to the previous year — a month which, as mentioned here, was pretty weak. But the market recovered nearly half of its deficit versus 2010, and the trade paperback gap within the Top 300 nearly completely closed. The year-to-date orders for all comics, trade paperbacks, and magazines is just a little more than $10 million behind the first two-thirds of 2010, or 4% — and it recovered more than $6 million in August alone. Last September presents a higher hurdle in the overall sales column, but with the rest of the DC relaunch titles appearing, chances are good that the Direct Market could be in positive territory for 2011 as we enter the fourth quarter.

The aggregate totals:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
August 2011: 6.2 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: +14%
Versus 5 years ago this month: -16%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +4%
YEAR TO DATE: 44.1 million copies, -5% vs. 2010, -19% vs. 2006, +4% vs. 2001

ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
August 2011 versus one year ago this month: +17.55%
YEAR TO DATE: -3.65%

---

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
August 2011: $21.55 million
Versus 1 year ago this month:+11%
Versus 5 years ago this month: -6%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +32%
YEAR TO DATE: $153.08 million, -6% vs. 2010, -8% vs. 2006, +31% vs. 2001

ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
August 2011 versus one year ago this month: +15.14%
YEAR TO DATE: -4.6%

---

TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
August 2011: $6.35 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +20%
Versus 5 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: -25%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: -7%
YEAR TO DATE: $44.68 million, -8% vs. 2010

ALL TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
August 2011 versus one year ago this month: +31.17%
YEAR TO DATE: -2.35%

---

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
August 2011: $27.9 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +13%
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: +21%
YEAR TO DATE: $197.76 million, -6% vs. 2010

ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
August 2011 versus one year ago this month: +20.15%
YEAR TO DATE: -3.87%

---

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
August 2011: approximately $37.32 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +20%
Versus 5 years ago this month: unchanged
YEAR TO DATE: $259 million, -4% vs. 2010

The average cover price of all comic books in Diamond's Top 300 was $3.50; the average weighted price — the average cost of all comic books retailers ordered — was $3.48. The median and most common cover price was $2.99. Click to see how cover prices have changed across time.

As discussed in much greater detail in this post, the chart-topping sales of Justice League #1 for August are but a portion of its overall sales; between preorders that shipped in September and to the United Kingdom, the first printing of more than 200,000 copies sold out. We'll have a better idea of the sales of the book in next month's report.

One phenomenon I had observed continues: the 300th place title, Image's Blue Estate #5, had orders of more than 4,500 copies, which is near the high mark for this metric. The rising level of this figure over time points partially to a fragmentation of reader purchases across a wider number of titles; it will be interesting to see if in October, as DC's relaunch titles appear on the charts as reorders, the 300th place book breaks the 5,000-copy level for the first time.

This month's posting brings to an even 15 years the distributor sales reports I've done for this site and, previously, for Comics & Games Retailer magazine. I started doing them 15 years ago in an attempt to reconcile the figures from Diamond and Heroes World, Marvel's exclusive distributor for a time, into a single chart. I'll write more about what I've seen in the past 15 years in a later post, but it has been a fascinating way to follow along with the tempo of the business. The amount of work that goes into them is significant, and it's hard to believe I've done 180 — not counting the ones I'm working on retroactively! There were months in there where I didn't necessarily have the time for it, and certainly months where we all wished the numbers said something different. But I hope that, taken altogether, it has been helpful to readers in trying to understand the hobby — and the trade — of comics, and I am glad that The Comics Chronicles site has made it possible to preserve some of these facts about the past.

On to next month...

Read more...

Justice League #1 tops 200k copies, with 186k in U.S., Canada first-day

by John Jackson Miller

I've only had time to do a first pass on the August numbers released today by Diamond, but given the number of people that have been asking, I can share that it looks like the Direct Market moved 6.2 million of its Top 300 comics in August, up nearly 14% over last year, with first-day North American orders on Justice League #1 of nearly 186,000 copies between the main listing and the Combo Pack. The standard issue alone had more than 171,000 first-day copies in U.S. and Canadian stores on August 31, with nearly 15,000 more in the Combo Pack, which included a variant cover and a code for a digital copy. It's already enough to make it the top-selling issue of the year on the continent — but it's not done selling, and Diamond has confirmed that some of the late-placed North American preorders were filled in September.

This is important. Before anyone gets confused over the previously published reports of more than 200,000 copies preordered, note that the 186,000-copy figure only includes preorders Diamond actually shipped to North America for August 31. It does not include the United Kingdom, which buys copies from the North American print run — usually, at about 10% again of the levels of U.S. sales. So right there, that takes preorders over 200,000 copies.

And it does not include late-placed preorders that could not be filled until September. We think of preorders as what was placed in the book's ordering window, but in fact retailers place reorders every day, right up to and after when an issue comes out. The added orders before the book comes out used to be called "advance reorders," but they are preorders in the sense that the publisher has information about them, often in time to adjust print runs or order an additional printing. They just don't necessarily hit the day that the initially preordered copies do, if the orders came in after the Final Order Cutoff date.

As of the Los Angeles Times story on August 22, DC and Diamond would have already seen some of their orders for copies that wouldn't be shipping until September — and would have known if they'd exceeded the initial print run; I'm told they definitely did exceed the print run, by a large margin. DC has said the first printing exceeded 200,000 copies and that two more printings of the standard version and one more printing of the combo pack have already been ordered, so what we're seeing here is a simple difference between what Diamond reports — comics that sold in North America in August — and the overall figure, total preorders.

We often see statistical quirks with books shipping on the last day of the month. First-week books benefit in the monthly rankings from three or four additional weeks of preordered and reordered copies shipping; last-day books just register the first wave. The rest of Justice League's later preorders will appear in the September charts, as well as any later reorders or new printings.

It is worth underlining here that every major top seller on the record list cycled for many months, not weeks — with the best seller of the 2000s, the Obama Spider-Man issue, getting nearly half its sales in the second month with a later printing. A report on a single day's sales should be regarded like the opening day of a film: illustrative of enthusiasm, but on its own just a portion of the picture. The record list shows all months for which Diamond provided data, not just Month One — or Day One. I am assured by those in the know that the numbers for the launch issue are well above what the Diamond snapshot for August tells us, and the experience of easily chart-watching confirms that.

All estimates subject to revision, as always. Detailed estimates for August coming soon.

Read more...

Early DC relaunch sales help erase half 2011's decline

Monday, September 12, 2011

by John Jackson Miller


Diamond Comic Distributors has released the preliminary sales report for August 2011, and as expected, it includes the first taste of what impact DC's relaunch has had on the market. DC's regular series ended, and Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1 released on the last day of the month.

Click to see the page for August 2011 on Comichron, which include's Diamond's preliminary rankings with order index numbers. Estimates will be along for actual sales later in the week.

Overall, with all comics and trade paperbacks included, it appears to be on the order of a $38 million month; that's just judging from Diamond's comparative sales statistics. The aggregate performance levels are here:


COMPARATIVE SALES STATISTICS

DOLLARS
UNITS
AUGUST 2011 VS. JULY 2011
COMICS
9.00%
7.33%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
24.18%
13.26%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
13.74%
7.79%
AUGUST 2011 VS. AUGUST 2010
COMICS
15.14%
17.55%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
31.17%
20.17%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
20.15%
17.76%
YEAR-TO-DATE 2011 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2010
COMICS
-4.60%
-3.65%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
-2.35%
-7.61%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
-3.87%
-3.99%

Serenity Volume 2: Better Days and Other StoriesThe numbers are all up double-digits percentage-wise year over year, though this should not be entirely be attributed to DC's relaunch, as trade paperback sales leapt, too, with Dark Horse's Serenity: Better Days and Other Stories leading the top graphic novel list. August 2011 was a five-week month for shipping purposes, and the industry's performance in August 2010 was fairly weak, as well. But as I 'd said before, given the sales levels this year, it only takes a couple of really good months to recover the ground lost against 2010 thus far, and August seems to have erased half the year-to-date loss. Last September presents a somewhat higher hurdle in the overall sales column, but chances are good that the Direct Market could be in positive territory for 2011 by the reports coming in this time next month.

The market shares can be seen here:

TOP COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS
PUBLISHER
DOLLAR
SHARE
UNIT
SHARE
MARVEL COMICS
37.34%
42.47%
DC COMICS
30.72%
34.84%
DARK HORSE COMICS
5.78%
3.79%
IDW PUBLISHING
4.79%
3.74%
IMAGE COMICS
4.67%
4.64%
DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
2.23%
2.24%
BOOM! STUDIOS
1.24%
1.21%
VIZ MEDIA
1.14%
0.53%
EAGLEMOSS PUBLICATIONS LTD
1.11%
0.25%
ARCHIE COMIC PUBLICATIONS
0.88%
1.04%
OTHER NON-TOP 10
10.11%
5.25%

And here are the Top Ten comics for the month:

TOP 10 COMIC BOOKS
RANK
DESCRIPTION
PRICE
ITEM CODE
VENDOR
1
JUSTICE LEAGUE #1
$3.99
JUL110187
DC
2
FLASHPOINT #5
$3.99
JUN110178
DC
3
FEAR ITSELF #5
$3.99
JUN110581
MAR
4
FLASHPOINT #4
$3.99
JUN110175
DC
5
ULTIMATE COMICS FALLOUT #4
$3.99
JUN110611
MAR
6
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #667
$3.99
JUN110622
MAR
7
AVENGERS #16
$3.99
JUN110586
MAR
8
WAR OF THE GREEN LANTERNS AFTERMATH #2
$3.99
JUN110168
DC
9
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #668
$3.99
JUN110624
MAR
10
NEW AVENGERS #15
$3.99
JUN110598
MAR

Again, the full list of 100 is here. IDW's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles launch placed 48th, the highest debut outside of the Big Two.

There will be much interest in in historical comparatives, so here are a couple of charts of interest. Diamond's release said that Justice League #1 was the best-selling comic book of 2011 thus far, and DC has said that the title topped 200,000 copies in orders, and that Action Comics Vol. 2 #1 in September had, with its second printing orders, done the same; it also said that from September, nine titles in total had topped 100,000 copies Action, Batgirl, Batman, Batman and Robin, Batman: The Dark Knight, Detective Comics, Flash, Green Lantern, and Superman. This does not count digital downloads, by the way — DC did not release specific data (and The Comics Chronicles focuses on reporting supply levels of physical books in print, anyway).

To get a sense of where this lands historically, first, here's what the existing top-seller list for 2011 looked like, prior to August:

1. Ultimate Spider-Man #160 (Jun-11) • Marvel • 166,944
2. Fantastic Four #587 (Jan-11) • Marvel • 144,173
3. Fear Itself #1 (Apr-11) • Marvel • 135,746
4. Amazing Spider-Man #666 (Jul-11) • Marvel • 136,568
5. FF #1 (Mar-11) • Marvel • 121,171
6. Fear Itself (May-11) • Marvel • 101,692
7. Flashpoint #1 (May-11) • DC • 95,845

The above figures include any second-or-later-month reorder figures that made the Top 300 and were published by Diamond. Later month orders can (and will) change the totals seen above. Flashpoint #1 had yet to top 100,000 copies with reorders by July, and will be in the curious position of being a first issue in far scarcer supply than its final issue.

The figures for the top sellers from 2010 can be seen here.

Finally, here are the rankings for the top sellers of the 2000s. Readers may remember seeing this chart here, and it comes with some caveats. Before February 2003, it includes only first-month preorders. In the final-order era, it reflects no reorders that didn't make the Top 300 in a month. The latter doesn't change much, but the former is a big deal, because it means Ultimate Spider-Man #1 is shortchanged, among others. As we see below, the top title of 2010, Avengers #1, places 51st in the 21st Century list — and Ultimate Spider-Man #160 places 63rd. 


Title Date Publisher Unit sales
1 Amazing Spider-Man 583 Jan-09 Marvel 530,500
2 Civil War 2 Jun-06 Marvel 341,856
3 Civil War 3 Jul-06 Marvel 337,025
4 Civil War 1 May-06 Marvel 328,524
5 Captain America 25 Mar-07 Marvel 317,713
6 Civil War 4 Sep-06 Marvel 290,994
7 Civil War 5 Nov-06 Marvel 283,863
8 All Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder 1 Jul-05 DC 276,017
9 Civil War 7 Feb-07 Marvel 274,451
10 Infinite Crisis 1 Oct-05 DC 269,991
11 Civil War 6 Jan-07 Marvel 263,847
12 Secret Invasion 1 Apr-08 Marvel 262,975
13 Justice League of America 1 Aug-06 DC 250,847
14 House of M 1 Jun-05 Marvel 248,166
15 Superman 204 Apr-04 DC 244,127
16 Identity Crisis 1 Jun-04 DC 242,912
17 New Avengers 1 Dec-04 Marvel 241,530
18 Batman 619 Sep-03 DC 235,122
19 Infinite Crisis 2 Nov-05 DC 225,614
20 Justice 1 Aug-05 DC 223,852
21 Infinite Crisis 3 Dec-05 DC 218,849
22 Astonishing X-Men 1 May-04 Marvel 218,315
23 Dark Tower Gunslinger Born 1 Feb-07 Marvel 213,726
24 Superman 205 May-04 DC 213,414
25 Infinite Crisis 4 Jan-06 DC 211,012
26 Infinite Crisis 6 Apr-06 DC 208,035
27 Blackest Night 1 Jul-09 DC 205,500
28 Infinite Crisis 5 Mar-06 DC 205,117
29 World War Hulk 1 Jun-07 Marvel 204,705
30 Captain America Reborn 1 Jul-09 Marvel 199,900
31 Secret Invasion 2 May-08 Marvel 198,832
32 Infinite Crisis 7 May-06 DC 198,367
33 Superman/Batman 10 May-04 DC 197,619
34 Thor 1 Jul-07 Marvel 196,818
35 JLA/Avengers 1 Sep-03 Marvel 191,887
36 Batman and Robin 1 Jun-09 DC 190,300
37 Fallen Son: Death of Captain America: Iron Man Jul-07 Marvel 189,429
38 Dark Knight Strikes Again 1 Dec-01 DC 188,695
39 Ultimate Fantastic Four 1 Dec-03 Marvel 188,510
40 Dark Knight Strikes Again 3 Feb-02 DC 186,577
41 Secret Invasion 3 Jun-08 Marvel 186,463
42 Identity Crisis 2 Jul-04 DC 185,260
43 All Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder 2 Sep-05 DC 184,959
44 Green Lantern 1 May-05 DC 180,453
45 Wolverine: The Origin 6 Jan-02 Marvel 179,251
46 Green Lantern Rebirth 1 Oct-04 DC 178,294
47 Wolverine: The Origin 5 Dec-01 Marvel 178,231
48 All Star Superman 1 Nov-05 DC 176,654
49 Secret Invasion 4 Jul-08 Marvel 175,423
50 House of M 2 Jun-05 Marvel 175,344
51 Avengers 1 2010 Marvel 175,100
63 Ultimate Spider-Man 160 2011 Marvel 166,944


So right out of the gate, Justice League #1 places at least in the Top 30; a book in the 200,000s could go all the way up to sixth. DC's news release said its first printing was higher than any DC title since August 2006's Justice League of America #1; that title had sales with reorders topping 250,000 copies, but note that the initial month's orders were 212,000 copies; we don't know what portion of the 250k the first printing was, but it's at least 212k. That 2006 issue is #13 on the 21st century list.

More figures as they become available, but it is in general an excellent thing to see any numbers that compare favorably with 2006 numbers, which was near the peak of the market's last sustained upswing.

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