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August 2013 comics sales estimates now online

Monday, September 9, 2013

by John Jackson Miller

The final comics sales estimates are out from Diamond Comic Distributors, and as mentioned here in the preliminary post, if July's final day had been part of August, we'd be looking at two relatively  normal months instead of one boom month and one big slide, which is what we had. Click to see the sales estimates for comics ordered in August 2013.

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 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 ordered a huge number of  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 trade paperback or hardcover releases — any month Walking Dead Vol. 1 is the top book, you know that: it's the standard retailers turn their dollars toward.

The aggregate sales:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
August 2013: 6.36 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: -10%
Versus 5 years ago this month: -7%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +6%
Versus 15 years ago this month: -10%
YEAR TO DATE: 55.38 million copies, +6% vs. 2012, +3% vs. 2008, +19% vs. 2003, -2% vs. 1998

ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
August 2013 versus one year ago this month: -11.21%
YEAR TO DATE: +7.38%

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TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
July 2013: $23.13 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -9%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +4%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +38%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +25%
YEAR TO DATE: $200.47 million, +9% vs. 2012, +17% vs. 2008, +53% vs. 2003, +45% vs. 1998

ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
August 2013 versus one year ago this month: -10.39%
YEAR TO DATE: +9.82%

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TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
August 2013: $6.02 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -22%
Versus 5 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: -34%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 50 vs. the Top 50: -7%
Versus 15 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: -18%
YEAR TO DATE: $60.13 million, +8% vs. 2012

ALL TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
August 2013 versus one year ago this month: -22.09%
YEAR TO DATE: +6.59%

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TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
August 2013: $29.15 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -12%
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: +27%
Versus 15 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +32%
YEAR TO DATE: $260.3 million, +9% vs. 2012

ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
August 2013 versus one year ago this month: -14.29%
YEAR TO DATE: +8.79%

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OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
August 2013: approximately $38.25 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: -14%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +5%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +54%
YEAR TO DATE: $334.8 million, +9% vs. 2012

RELEASES
New comic books released: 406
New graphic novels released: 212
New magazines released: 34
All new releases: 652

The average comic book in the Top 300 cost $3.61; the average comic book retailers ordered cost $3.63. The median and most common price for comics offered was $3.99. Click to see comics prices across time.

The breakdowns of how many comics and graphic novels each major publisher released appears in the column on the left on the monthly estimates page. I do not plan to run a table comparing this information with the Top 300 results each month, but the reader can easily make these comparisons. This month among publishers with more than 10 releases, for example, all of Marvel and Zenescope's titles made the Top 300.

I've looked at trying to square up the new release tables with market shares, but it just doesn't work: market share is based on a basket that includes everything, not just new releases. So we end up seeing that DC and Marvel's overall market share is larger than their share of new releases because they have, on average, more books in the backlist system that perform well. Image fares better in overall market share than publishers with more new releases each month like IDW and Dynamite, in part because Image has more backlist items and many that sell very well indeed, like Walking Dead. But there isn't enough information to put together a measure of "per-release efficiency."

This month marks the completion of my 17th year compiling these numbers for publication each month. I published my 200th monthly report at the beginning of the summer, and with all the new categories added over the years, the analysis now requires many more individual steps each month. It's something I'm aware of in months, like this, in which my professional life is very busy (see here for more), but as a comics collector, completeness a compulsion!

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