Monday, October 8, 2012
by John Jackson Miller
The estimates for comics sales for September 2012 are now online here at The Comics Chronicles, and they complete a quarter that in non-inflation-adjusted dollar terms was the biggest since at least the mid-1990s. North American comics retailers ordered $123.6 million in comic books and graphic novels in the quarter, beating the previous record set just three months earlier by the second quarter.
With the DC relaunch entering the comparative picture, periodical sales were down last month. Avengers Vs. X-Men #11 led the market and was the only Marvel title in a Top 10 filled with DC Zero Month issues. To date in 2012, retailers have ordered nearly 59 million copies of periodicals appearing within the Top 300; a year-end total of 80 million is tantalizingly withing reach. The Direct Market hasn't been above 80 million copies since 2008.
No repeat appearance for Walking Dead #100 in the rankings; we'll see the final sales in the end-of-year totals.
Trade paperbacks and graphic novel sales, however, helped keep the market just barely in positive territory for the month — though it's debatable whether the market-leading title, Thanos Quest #1, should be counted with the trades. It is a collected edition, compiling two issues of a microseries released in September and October of 1990 (when they had sales through Capital City Distribution of 23,000 and 19,300 copies respectively) — but alone in the top-ranked trades it has no ISBN number, and when it was collected in January 2000, it was counted as a comic book by Diamond.
But its cover price then, $3.99, was not substantially more than the average comic-book price at the time; the current version's $7.99 is more than double the current average. Inclusion on the graphic novel list has tended over the years to be a function of price. The 2000 version, incidentally, landed in 151st place during its release month, with preorders of more than 12,500 copies; the current version just beats that total, with more than 13,100 copies sold at twice the price. (Movie buzz tends to help!) Counted as a comic book, it would have been in 164th place.
Just as Diamond releases "small" and "indie" publisher charts for comics that sometimes extend the Top 300 lists, Diamond also does so for graphic novels. Rarely do the charts include items not already seen on the larger list, but last month and this month they have. We can actually see down to 464th place, where items are still selling around 280 copies; as the 300th-place level for trades this month was 396 copies, that suggests a very slow drop-off in the "long tail." The trades from 301st to 464th place likely add around 55,000 copies and a million dollars all on their own to industry sales.
The aggregate totals:
TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALESSeptember 2012: 6.51 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: -10%
Versus 5 years ago this month: -3%
Versus 10 years ago this month: -7%
Versus 15 years ago this month: -17%
Q3 2012: 20.51 million copies, +6% vs. Q3 2011
YEAR TO DATE: 58.83 million copies, +15% vs. 2011, -8% vs. 2007, +12% vs. 2002, -22% vs. 1997
ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
September 2012 versus one year ago this month: -8.72%
Q3 2012 versus Q3 2011: +6.06
YEAR TO DATE: +14.26%
TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALESSeptember 2012: $22.8 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -7%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +6%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +36%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +18%
Q3 2012: $73.23 million, +11% vs. Q3 2011
YEAR TO DATE: $206.81 million, +17% vs. 2011, +2% vs. 2007, +41% vs. 2002, +15% vs. 1997
ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
September 2012 versus one year ago this month: -4.42%
Q3 2012 versus Q3 2011: +11.5%
YEAR TO DATE: +17.12%
TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALESSeptember 2012: $7.15 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +12%
Versus 5 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: -6%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 50 vs. the Top 50: -13%
Q3 2012: $21.99 million, +18% vs. Q3 2011
YEAR TO DATE: $62.61 million, +23% vs. 2011
ALL TRADE PAPERBACK SALES
September 2012 versus one year ago this month: +14.43%
Q3 2012 versus Q3 2011: +15.37%
YEAR TO DATE: +14.16%
TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALESSeptember 2012: $29.95 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -3%
Versus 5 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: +4%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 50 TPBs: +15%
Q3 2012: $95.21 million, +12% vs. 2011
YEAR TO DATE: $269.41 million, +18% vs. 2011
ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK SALES
September 2012 versus one year ago this month: +1.02%
Q3 2012 versus Q3 2011: +12.71%
YEAR TO DATE: +16.16%
OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)September 2012: approximately $38.96 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +1%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +19%
Q3 2012: $123.6 million, +13% vs. 2011
YEAR TO DATE: $346.59 million, +16% vs. 2011
The average comic book in the Top 300 cost $3.56, with the average comic book ordered by retailers costing $3.50. $3.50 was the median price of comics, and $2.99 was the most common price.
Updates have been made to the pages listing the #1 comics of each month, the 300th place comics of each month, and the Diamond-era sales records.
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