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August 2013 comics orders soften on lower release volume

Friday, September 6, 2013

by John Jackson Miller


I've been beyond busy and honestly focused on other sales charts this month— my Star Wars: Kenobi novel opens at #12 on next week's New York Times hardcover bestseller list — but the comics market waits for no man, so let's go to the numbers. 

Diamond Comic Distributors released its preliminary sales data for August 2013, and it's the sort of report that may prompt nervousness in some quarters. But in fact, quarters are the entire issue. For while retailers' orders dropped 14.29% versus the year before — the biggest drop since January 2011 — if July's final day had been part of August, we'd be looking at two pretty normal months instead of one boom month and one slide. Sales for the quarter, meanwhile are still hanging in there.
 Orders for comic books, graphic novels, and magazines appear to have been around $38.3 million in August, the lowest dollar amount seen since April 2012. Led by Marvel's Infinity #1, comics dollar sales were off 10%. But, again, the calendar conspires to complicate matters. We're comparing a four-week month with five-week months in both last month and in August 2012. We already know that there's about a 11% or so bonus to having an extra week, because it means more new titles and reorders can ship — but we can also see it in the number of releases. The total number of new comics shipped in August 2013 was 406, with 212 new graphic novels. This is down from totals of 465 and 295 respectively last month. There was simply less new material debuting.

We also know the market absolutely gorged on graphic novels in July — up a far greater amount than expected — and it's possible retailers brought some orders into July that normally would have been in August. Further, August is a month with no pricey, blockbuster TPB or HC releases — any month Walking Dead Vol. 1 is the top book, you know that: it's the standard retailers turn their dollars toward.

So July-August looks very weird, but it may balance out. Looking at the overall data, July and August together had orders of more than $85.1 million in 2013; in 2012, that figure was $84.7 million. We're similarly up when comparing the last three months. The monthly report is an imprecise measure; it wobbles. If July 31 had been August 1, we'd have two fairly normal looking months.
COMPARATIVE SALES STATISTICS

DOLLARS
UNITS
AUGUST 2013 VS. JULY 2013
COMICS
-15.30%
-14.93%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
-24.55%
-24.81%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
-18.33%
-15.77%
AUGUST 2013 VS. AUGUST 2012
COMICS
-10.39%
-11.21%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
-22.09%
-25.68%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
-14.29%
-12.50%
YEAR-TO-DATE 2013 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2012
COMICS
9.82%
7.38%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
6.59%
4.55%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
8.79%
7.16%

The top comic books:
-->
TOP 10 COMIC BOOKS
RANK
DESCRIPTION
PRICE
VENDOR
1
INFINITY #1
$4.99
MAR
2
SUPERMAN UNCHAINED #3
$3.99
DC
3
BATMAN #23
$3.99
DC
4
JUSTICE LEAGUE #23
$3.99
DC
5
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #7
$3.99
DC
6
BATMAN SUPERMAN #3
$3.99
DC
7
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #15
$3.99
MAR
8
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #16
$3.99
MAR
9
AVENGERS #18
$3.99
MAR
10
ALL-NEW X-MEN #15
$3.99
MAR

The top graphic novels: 
-->
TOP 10 GRAPHIC NOVELS & TRADE PAPERBACKS
RANK
DESCRIPTION
PRICE
VENDOR
1
THE WALKING DEAD VOL. 1: DAYS GONE BYE TP
$14.99
IMA
2
CHEW VOLUME 7: BAD APPLES TP
$12.99
IMA
3
ROCKET RACCOON: TALES FROM THE HALF WORLD TP
$7.99
MAR
4
SAGA VOLUME 1 TP
$9.99
IMA
5
SAGA VOLUME 2 TP
$14.99
IMA
6
MY LITTLE PONY DIGEST VOLUME 1 TP
$6.99
IDW
7
DEADPOOL VOLUME 2: SOUL HUNTER TP
$15.99
MAR
8
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN VOLUME 2: TROUBLED MIND TP
$17.99
MAR
9
THE FLASH VOLUME 1: MOVE FORWARD TP
$16.99
DC
10
B.P.R.D.: HELL ON EARTH VOLUME 6: RETURN OF THE MASTER TP
$19.99
DAR

The market shares:
 
-->
TOP COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS
PUBLISHER
DOLLAR
SHARE
UNIT
SHARE
MARVEL COMICS
33.70%
36.30%
DC COMICS
30.16%
33.14%
IMAGE COMICS
7.86%
8.51%
IDW PUBLISHING
5.70%
4.98%
DARK HORSE COMICS
5.47%
4.80%
DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
3.01%
2.93%
BOOM! STUDIOS
2.05%
2.07%
EAGLEMOSS PUBLICATIONS LTD
1.34%
0.29%
AVATAR PRESS INC
0.95%
0.59%
ZENESCOPE ENTERTAINMENT INC
0.94%
1.03%
OTHER NON-TOP 10
8.83%
5.38%

 The title offerings:
-->
NEW TITLES SHIPPED
PUBLISHER
COMICS 
SHIPPED
GRAPHIC NOVELS SHIPPED
MAGAZINES 
SHIPPED
TOTAL
SHIPPED
MARVEL COMICS
67
34
0
101
DC COMICS
83
23
1
107
IMAGE COMICS
39
9
0
48
IDW PUBLISHING
35
18
0
53
DARK HORSE COMICS
29
15
0
44
DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
49
4
0
53
BOOM! STUDIOS
20
2
0
22
EAGLEMOSS PUBLICATIONS LTD
0
0
6
6
AVATAR PRESS INC
7
4
0
11
ZENESCOPE ENTERTAINMENT INC
11
3
0
14
OTHER NON-TOP 10
66
100
27
193

We'll see more next week when we look at the full data, but in the meantime, don't sweat the individual months too much — at least not yet. The direct market is still on pace to top $500 million this year. September will be the tiebreaker for the third quarter.

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