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December 2012 comics sales estimates online

Monday, January 14, 2013

by John Jackson Miller

Diamond Comic Distributors has released the full charts for December, completing the picture of sales by comics shops for the year. Click to see the Comichron estimates for December 2012 comics sales.

As described here on Friday, Amazing Spider-Man #700 was the best-seller, and as projected it narrowly topped 200,000 copies. (As before, previous publisher reports had indicated a higher figure; note that this Diamond total does not include U.K. sales, so there's no disconnect here.)

The top-selling collected edition for the month was Walking Dead Vol. 1, which also was the best-selling graphic novel for the year — and, in fact, the last three years.
The Top 300 comics sales for the Direct Market for the year came in at 80.55 million copies, which as seen in the yearly comparison tables gets us back into the 2006-08 range. Retailers ordered more than 8 million more comics in 2012 than in 2011. Remember, Diamond has units shipping on thousands of comics monthly (current releases and reordered previous releases), so the total number of comic books sold is higher. The dollar figures in all categories are the highest they've been in the Diamond Exclusive Era (1997-present), although inflation naturally figures into that.

Total Direct Market orders for all comics and graphic novels came in at approximately $474.61 million, up 14.72%; just the Top 300s in each category each month contributed $369.59 million of that total. That means that the backlist or "hidden sales" topped more than $100 million this year — but note that this segment grew more slowly than the top of the list in 2012.  

The aggregate figures for the month, quarter, and 2012:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
December 2012: 6.93 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: +13%
Versus 5 years ago this month: -1%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +16%
Versus 15 years ago this month: -23%
Q4 2012: 21.72 million copies, +5% vs. Q4 2011   
2012 FINAL: 80.55 million copies, +12% vs. 2011, -6% vs. 2007, -15% vs. 2002, -20% vs. 1997

ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
December 2012 versus one year ago this month: -12.93%
Q4 2012 versus Q4 2011: +4.42
2012 FINAL: +11.41%

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TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
December 2012: $24.81 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +17%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +10%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +52%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +8%
Q4 2012: $78.21 million, +10% vs. Q4 2011
2012 FINAL: $285.02 million, +15% vs. 2011, +6% vs. 2007, +45% vs. 2002, +17% vs. 1997

ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
December 2012 versus one year ago this month: +19.03%
Q4 2012 versus Q4 2011: +9.51%
2012 FINAL: +14.94%

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TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
December 2012: $6.29 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +4%
Versus 5 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: -11%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 50 vs. the Top 50: +63%
Q4 2012: $21.96 million, +16% vs. Q4 2011
2012 FINAL: $84.57 million, +21% vs. 2011

ALL TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
December 2012 versus one year ago this month: +8.25%
Q4 2012 versus Q4 2011: +14.35%
2012 FINAL: +14.26%

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TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
December 2012: $31.1 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +14%
Versus 5 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: +6%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 50 TPBs: +35%
Q4 2012: $100.18 million, +11% vs. 2011
2012 FINAL: $369.59 million, +16% vs. 2011

ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
December 2012 versus one year ago this month: +1.02%
Q4 2012 versus Q4 2011: +12.71%
2012 FINAL: +16.16%

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OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
December 2012: approximately $38.96 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +1%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +19%
Q4 2012: $123.6 million, +13% vs. 2011
2012 FINAL: $474.61 million, +15% vs. 2011

The average comic book in the Top 300 cost $3.47, with the average comic book ordered by retailers costing $3.58, influenced greatly by the $8 Spider-Man issue's sales. $3.50 was the median price of comics, and $2.99 was the most common price.

For the year, the average cover price was $3.54, with the average comic retailers ordered costing $3.57. This is up from last year's averages of $3.49 and $3.44 respectively. The average price for comics in 2012 is still lower than 2010's high of $3.58, but the average weighted cost is higher than 2010's high of $3.55.

Click to see average cover prices over time.

The Top Thousand Comics and Top Thousand Graphic Novels report will appear here shortly; the listing can be found here.

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