Monday, November 12, 2012
by John Jackson Miller
The full Comichron estimates for comic books and graphic novels ordered in October 2012 by comics retailers in North America from Diamond Comic Distributors are now online. They fill out the picture described Friday of a record-setting month for the Direct Market.
On top of having the highest dollar-value month for combined comics and trade paperbacks since tracking of that figure became possible in 2003, October saw retailers ordering more dollars worth of the Top 300 trade paperbacks than they ever have before — more than $8.6 million worth.
In addition to the top unit seller Superman Earth One Vol. 2 hardcover from DC, retailers also ordered nearly $620,000 worth of copies of Walking Dead Compendium Vol. 2, giving the book the biggest one-month dollar volume for a trade since July's Batman: Earth One. The top 10 trades along had a retail value of nearly $2 million.
The unit sales for the Top 300 comics came in slightly lower than projected on Friday, because the top portion of the list performed slightly worse than the group of comics below 300th place. But Uncanny Avengers #1 topped 300,000 copies ordered, and while that's less than Walking Dead #100 earlier this year, it will likely earn the title a place in the Top 10 bestselling comics of the 21st century list, once final numbers are known for the year.
It was Marvel's best month for Top 300 Comics unit and dollar sales since June 2009, and also Marvel's best month since then when it came to the Top 300 Comics and Top 300 Trade Paperbacks combined. (June 2009 saw the release of Captain America #600 — and Marvel topping 50% in unit market share.)
For Image, it was the best combined top-comics-and-trades dollar month since the meaningful reporting in the category began, in 1999. (Image most certainly had better months just from comics alone during the comics boom of the early 1990s; it wasn't possible then to track comics and trades together as so few trades were reported.)
Only 14 publishers had titles in the Top 300, just one more than the record low. The 300th place comic book, a benchmark showing depth in the market, was above 5,000 copies but just missed the record for a five-week month. This month's 300th place title would have ranked in the 250s five years ago, and the 180s (!) ten years ago. That is significant, and it's part of what's keeping unit sales overall so high.
TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALESOctober 2012: 7.38 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: -3%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +3%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +28%
Versus 15 years ago this month: -13%
YEAR TO DATE: 66.21 million copies, +12% vs. 2011, -7% vs. 2007, +14% vs. 2002, -21% vs. 1997
ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
October 2012 versus one year ago this month: -0.82%
YEAR TO DATE: +12.31%
TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALESOctober 2012: $27.03 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +7%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +18%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +72%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +24%
YEAR TO DATE: $233.84 million, +15% vs. 2011, +4% vs. 2007, +44% vs. 2002, +16% vs. 1997
ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
October 2012 versus one year ago this month: +7.44%
YEAR TO DATE: +15.89%
TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALESAugust 2012: $8.61 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +49%
Versus 5 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: -3%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 50 vs. the Top 50: +253%
YEAR TO DATE: $71.22 million, +25% vs. 2011
ALL TRADE PAPERBACK SALES
October 2012 versus one year ago this month: +53.87%
YEAR TO DATE: +17.97%
TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALESOctober 2012: $35.65 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +14%
Versus 5 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: +14%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 50 TPBs: +44%
YEAR TO DATE: $305.06 million, +17% vs. 2011
ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK SALES
October 2012 versus one year ago this month: +19.5%
YEAR TO DATE: +16.55%
OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)October 2012: approximately $47.31 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +20%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +21%
YEAR TO DATE: $393.9 million, +17% vs. 2011
There is a returning cloud on the horizon, however. Average and weighted average cover prices were together at their highest points since the end of 2010, when DC began cutting back its prices. The average price of comics in Diamond's Top 300 was $3.63, and the cost of the average comic book retailers ordered was $3.66. The average comic book in the top 25 was priced at $3.87. The median price of comics offered rose to $3.99. The most common price for comics went also back up again to $3.99. The list of month-to-month comics cover prices from 1995 to present has been updated.
As noted Friday, the Direct Market remains strong going into the holiday season. An double-digit up year is nearly assured. The next pertinent question would seem to be how much of that energy the market can conserve going into the winter months, those notorious assassins of industry momentum.
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