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John Jackson Miller and other pop culture archaeologists interested in comics history.

 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Final July 2013 comics sales estimates: Graphic novels turn up the volume

by John Jackson Miller

The final comics sales estimates are out from Diamond Comic Distributors, and they complete the picture of the best summer month thus far for the comics shop market in the Diamond Exclusive Era. Click to see the sales estimates for comics ordered in July 2013.

July's orders of $46.8 million topped every previous month (in non-inflation adjusted terms) with the exception of October 2012, which had set a mark of $47.3 million. That puts the market up 12.71% for the year, to nearly $297 million. The market is now running $35 million ahead of where it was last year at this time.

Superman Unchained #2 from DC led the comics periodical list, with orders of approximately 165,700 copies in its first month.

Graphic novel orders, meanwhile, overall greatly exceeded those in the Top 300 — up 26% versus a 11% increase for the Top 300. These gaps in growth rates are usually explained by the long tail — the thousands of graphic novels outside the Top 300 — and if the difference seems extreme, consider the unit sales volume: The 300th place graphic novel this July had orders of 503 copies. Last July: just 346 copies. The typical "bubbling under" book is selling many more copies than usual, and there are lots more of those than there are Top 300 entries, so it all adds up.

The fifth shipping week explains a portion of the difference, but it's pretty clear that volume is simply a lot higher. The 381th place graphic novel this July would have been in 244th place last year!

The aggregate sales:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
July 2013: 7.32 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: +6%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +2%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +15%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +1%
YEAR TO DATE: 49.02 million copies, +8% vs. 2012, +5% vs. 2008, +21% vs. 2003, unchanged vs. 1998

ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
July 2013 versus one year ago this month: +11.02%
YEAR TO DATE: +10.36%

---

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
July 2013: $26.59 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +8%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +15%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +51%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +53%
YEAR TO DATE: $177.34 million, +12% vs. 2012, +19% vs. 2008, +55% vs. 2003, +48% vs. 1998

ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
July 2013 versus one year ago this month: +12.55%
YEAR TO DATE: +13.16%

---

TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
July 2013: $7.93 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +11%
Versus 5 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: -15%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 50 vs. the Top 50: +13%
Versus 15 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +52%
YEAR TO DATE: $39.38 million, +19% vs. 2012

ALL TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
July 2013 versus one year ago this month: +26.11%
YEAR TO DATE: +11.72%

---

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
July 2013: $34.52 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +8%
Versus 5 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: +9%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 50 TPBs: +41%
Versus 15 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +63%
YEAR TO DATE: $231.15 million, +12% vs. 2012

ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
July 2013 versus one year ago this month: +16.73%
YEAR TO DATE: +12.71%

---

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
July 2013: approximately $46.84 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +17%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +13%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +68%
YEAR TO DATE: $296.55 million, +13% vs. 2012

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.

As reported last Friday, Diamond also released the total number of new items that the Top 10 publishers released. This data has been added to the market share column of the monthly page, but we can also learn something from it by comparing it with what ranked in the Top 300. Here's the number of comics releases, versus the number that made the Top 300:

Publisher Comics
shipped
Comics in Top 300 Graphic novels shipped
DC 91 80 29
Marvel 81 79 37
Image 42 26 14
IDW 38 28 22
Dark Horse 35 23 20
Dynamic Forces 37 17 1
Boom 24 10 2
Avatar 18 6 1
Zenescope 15 7 1
Valiant 7 7 1
Other 77 17 167
TOTAL 465 300 295

As you can see, almost every comic book that DC and Marvel release makes the Top 300, and Image, IDW, and Dark Horse all chart at least 50% of their offerings. Valiant bats 1.000, with all its comics making the Top 300. In all, the Top 10 publishers released 388 comic books, of which 283, or 73%, made the Top 300.

Note, however, that not every release in the Top 300 is necessarily a new one, so this chart will never exactly be apples versus apples. It is for that reason that I did not conduct a Top 300 comparison for the graphic novels, because that list is dominated by past releases. Image, for example, shipped 14 trade paperbacks and hardcovers in July, but charted 37!

So that's July. Things keep going along very well, in general, for the Direct Market, and $500 million remains an achievable goal for the year. There are always potholes out there to be feared, and cover price inflation is one of them. But this might well be the healthiest market I've seen in 20 years of reporting, and more of the same would be very good to see.

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Friday, August 9, 2013

July 2013 second best month for comics sales in 21st century

by John Jackson Miller


(Update: The final estimate report is now online here.)

The comics shop market enjoyed its best summer month in the Diamond Exclusive Era in dollar terms, ordering more dollars worth of comics and trade paperbacks in the month of July than it has in all but one month since 1997.

Based on Comichron's analysis of preliminary data released by Diamond Comic Distributors, July's orders of $46.8 million topped every previous month (in non-inflation adjusted terms) with the exception of October 2012, which had set a mark of $47.3 million.

Comic book, graphic novel, and trade paperback orders were up 16.73% in dollars over last July, which had one less shipping week. That's right around the amount that an additional shipping week usually adds. That puts the market up 12.71% for the year, to nearly $297 million. The market is now running $35 million ahead of where it was last year at this time.

The aggregate change data:
-->
COMPARATIVE SALES STATISTICS

DOLLARS
UNITS
JULY 2013 VS. JUNE 2013
COMICS
7.65%
7.59%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
24.80%
31.39%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
12.72%
9.26%
JULY 2013 VS. JULY 2012
COMICS
12.65%
11.02%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
26.11%
18.11%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
16.73%
11.59%
YEAR-TO-DATE 2013 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2012
COMICS
13.16%
10.36%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
11.72%
10.18%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
12.71%
10.35%

Superman Unchained #2 from DC led the comics periodical list, which saw DC nudging past Marvel in the dollar market shares category for the first time since last September. July comics orders were up 11.02% in units and 12.65% in dollars over last July.

--> -->
TOP 10 COMIC BOOKS
RANK
DESCRIPTION
PRICE
VENDOR
1
Superman Unchained #2
$3.99
DC
2
Batman #22
$3.99
DC
3
Guardians Of The Galaxy #5
$3.99
Marvel
4
Justice League #22
$3.99
DC
5
Batman Annual #2
$4.99
DC
6
Batman Superman #2
$3.99
DC
7
Justice League Of America #6
$3.99
DC
8
Superior Spider-Man #13
$3.99
Marvel
9
Superior Spider-Man #14
$3.99
Marvel
10
Superior Spider-Man Team Up #1
$3.99
Marvel

Marvel's Hawkeye Vol. 2 topped the graphic novel list. Graphic novel and trade paperback sales were up by a great deal, more than 26%, over last July. The graphic novel list:

-->
-->
RANK
DESCRIPTION
PRICE
VENDOR
1
Hawkeye Vol. 2: Little Hits
$16.99
Marvel
2
Avatar The Last Airbender Vol. 5: The Search Part 2
$10.99
Dark Horse
3
Saga Volume 2
$14.99
Image
4
Saga Volume 1
$9.99
Image
5
Black Bolt: Something Inhuman This Way Comes
$7.99
Marvel
6
Kick-Ass 2 Prelude: Hit-Girl
$19.99
Marvel
7
Fairest Volume 2: Hidden Kingdom
$14.99
DC
8
Before Watchmen: Comedian/Rorschach Deluxe HC
$29.99
DC
9
Invincible Vol. 18: The Death Of Everyone
$16.99
Image
10
Before Watchmen: Nite Owl/Dr. Manhattan Deluxe HC
$29.99
DC
  
And here are the market shares:

-->
PUBLISHER
DOLLAR
SHARE
UNIT
SHARE
DC
32.50%
34.07%
Marvel
32.34%
36.47%
Image
6.56%
6.79%
IDW
6.09%
4.53%
Dark Horse
5.43%
4.61%
Dynamite
2.54%
2.76%
Boom
2.20%
2.25%
Avatar
1.09%
0.99%
Zenescope
0.97%
0.96%
Valiant
0.93%
1.05%
Other
9.35%
5.52%

And Diamond released a new category in its report, and it's the first time in many years that we've seen a list like this: the actual number of new items that shipped in each category for the major publishers. We've long been able to figure this information out by looking at shipping lists, but it's labor-intensive enough that it's not been a regular practice at Comichron. The data:
-->
NEW TITLES SHIPPED
PUBLISHER
COMICS
SHIPPED
GRAPHIC NOVELS SHIPPED
MAGAZINES
SHIPPED
TOTAL
SHIPPED
DC
91
29
1
121
Marvel
81
37
0
118
Image
42
14
0
56
IDW
38
22
0
60
Dark Horse
35
20
0
55
Dynamite
37
1
0
38
Boom
24
2
0
26
Avatar
18
1
1
20
Zenescope
15
1
0
16
Valiant
7
1
0
8
Other
77
167
42
286

For nearly 20 years, Comichron has posted the number of issues that publishers ranked in the Top 300 each month, which has given us a bit of an insight into sales volume; you can see June's by looking here at the column way down on the left-hand side which says "Items in the Top 300", or you can see the across-time version of it (which has not been updated recently).

Readers will find that the numbers in the Titles Shipped list will not match the Top 300 list for a couple of reasons. One, obviously, is that not all titles shipped reach the Top 300. The other, less obvious, is that some issues from earlier months reappear in the Top 300s, so it is possible for the Top 300 item count to actually be larger than the shipped count.

Notable is the number of magazines Diamond is shipping. Magazines have always been figured in the Overall Comics, Trade Paperbacks, and Magazines sales figures reported here; it is the grouping Diamond bases its market shares on. But the units and dollars involved have seldom been significant enough to affect those market shares since Wizard's demise, and we see above why. Among publishers of comics, only DC (wth Mad) and Avatar (with Bleeding Cool, I would expect) have entries in the magazine list.

Magazine publishers do still have an impact in the market share rankings chart; although it did not appear in the Top 10 this month, Eaglemoss makes the charts often.

The full estimates will appear here next week.

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