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

 

Monday, November 11, 2013

October 2013 comics sales estimates online: Volume, cover price records set

by John Jackson Miller

http://bit.ly/CCWD115
The comics industry's momentum showed few signs of dissipating in October, as Direct Market shops in North America ordered more than $50 million worth of comic books and graphic novels for the first time in the 16 years that Diamond Comic Distributors has been the exclusive sales agent for all the major publishers. Click to see the comics sales estimates for October 2013.

Walking Dead #115 from Image edged out February's Justice League of America #1 for the most copies sold in a single month, approximately 310,600 to 307,800. The DC issue continues to be the front-runner for best-selling issue of the year, however, given its reorder activity in later months (which has added at least 20,000 copies to its total). We'll have a cleaner comparison at the end of the year. (See the full list of Top Sellers by Month.)

Both Walking Dead #115 and Justice League of America #1 will wind up in the list of 10 most ordered comic books of the 21st Century when the list is updated at the end of the year; it's an open question how high on that list they'll go.

For the second month running, Diamond expanded the comics list to report the Top 400 (actually, the Top 399) rather than the Top 300; those entries, along with various items after 400th place from Diamond's Small Publisher list, appear on the Comichron sales estimates page for the month. However, we'll continue to use the Top 300 as the cross-time grouping for comparison (at least until there are a few more years of Top 400 data to enable comparisons).

This month does complete five full years of Top 300 graphic novel lists, which expanded from the Top 100 in November 2008. Next month we'll begin using the Top 300 for five-year comparisons.

http://bit.ly/CCbatman24
Records set: The Diamond Exclusive Era began in full in April 1997, when Diamond became the exclusive distributor for all major publishers. The complete list of sales records for the era can be found here, and this month saw the following new records set for the era:

• Highest dollar volume for retailer orders of comics, graphic novels, and magazines (unadjusted for inflation): $50.32 million

• Highest sales in a five-week month for the 300th-place comic book: Lord of Mars #3 from Dynamic Forces, with orders of 6,491 copies. See the complete list of 300th-place issues across time.

• Highest average weighted price comics ordered in the Top 300 (basically, dollars divided by units): $3.73. DC's Batman #24, priced at $6.99, was the second-most-ordered comic book of the month, acting to skew the figure upward a great deal. (The average price in the Top 25 went over $4 for the first time, in part due to its appearance in the list.)

This is also the first month since at least the mid-1990s when the top five publishers (here, Dark Horse, DC, IDW, Image, and Marvel) all had orders for their entries in the Top 300 comics topping $1 million. The top four last had orders topping that sum in October 2000.

The aggregate sales:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
October 2013: 7.76 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: +5%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +3%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +5%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +10%
YEAR TO DATE: 71.29 million copies, +8% vs. 2012, +5% vs. 2008, +18% vs. 2003, +1% vs. 1998

ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
October 2013 versus one year ago this month: +8.69%
YEAR TO DATE: +9.46%

---

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
October 2013: $28.95 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +7%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +16%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +35%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +55%
YEAR TO DATE: $259.47 million, +11% vs. 2012, +19% vs. 2008, +51% vs. 2003, +48% vs. 1998

ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
October 2013 versus one year ago this month: +11.9%
YEAR TO DATE: +12.42%

---

TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
October 2013: $8.34 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -3%
Versus 5 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: -16%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 50 vs. the Top 50: +25%
Versus 15 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +79%
YEAR TO DATE: $76.03 million, +7% vs. 2012

ALL TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
October 2013 versus one year ago this month: -4.65%
YEAR TO DATE: +4.69%

---

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
October 2013: $37.28 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +5%
Versus 5 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: +10%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 50 TPBs: +30%
Versus 15 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +68%
YEAR TO DATE: $335.19 million, +10% vs. 2012

ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
October 2013 versus one year ago this month: +6.36%
YEAR TO DATE: +9.95%

---

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
October 2013: approximately $50.32 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +6%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +20%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +62%
YEAR TO DATE: $433.2 million, +10% vs. 2012

RELEASES
New comic books released: 515
New graphic novels released: 342
New magazines released: 38
All new releases: 895

COVER PRICES
The average comic book in the Top 300 cost $3.64; the average comic book retailers ordered cost $3.73. The median and most common price for comics offered was $3.99. Click to see comics prices across time.

Notable in the unit sales data, we see that October's Top 300 comics unit orders for each of the comparison years is in the same range, 7 to 8 million copies:

October 2013: 7.76 million copies
October 2012: 7.38 million copies
October 2008: 7.53 million copies
October 2003: 7.4 million copies
October 1998: 7.06 million copies

It's a remarkably narrow range, seemingly very steady — and yet, it does not reflect a lack of overall industry growth: quite the contrary, as trade paperback sales exploded over the years since 1998, and an increasing amount of new comics volume can be found outside the top 300, as well (necessitating the move to publishing the Top 400, I suspect). The greatest factor affecting unit sales volume over the years has historically been the number of comics shops — each additional set of new racking spaces tends to boost the number of comics ordered a lot faster than organic growth within a single shop — and as the number of comics shops hasn't fluctuated too wildly in one direction or the other in these years, that may be serving to fix the range to a degree.

With October sales this strong, odds are good for the year-over-year growth to hold up through November and December. Last November and December's combined orders were $80.6 million: two flat months would finish off 2013 at $514 million, up 8%. Two months at October's 6% growth level would end the year at $519 million, while two months at 2013's 10% growth pace would end the year at $522 million. That's the likely range, then somewhere around $519 million for the year, an increase of $45 million over 2012. The "gravy day" for the industry — on which we move ahead of 2012's total sales — should be right at Thanksgiving, no pun intended.

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Friday, November 8, 2013

October 2013: First $50 million comics sales month in Diamond Exclusive Era

by John Jackson Miller

http://bit.ly/CCWD115
Last October was the best month in all of 2012 for retailer orders of comic books and graphic novels — and still, this October was able to better its mark, passing $50 million in merchandise for the first time in the 16 years that Diamond Comic Distributors has been the exclusive sales agent for all the major publishers.

It's a five-shipping-week month versus a five-shipping-week month, so this is a straight-up comparison — and with comics shops ordering approximately $50.3 million worth of comics and graphic novels in the month, we can see what's been added to the market in the slightly more than two years since the DC relaunch. June 2011, the last five-week month before the relaunch, had orders of $36.5 million. So that's a increase on the order of 37%, over a period when average comic book cover prices have only gone up by about 4%.

With October sales this strong, odds are good for the year-over-year growth to hold up through November and December. Last November and December's combined orders were $80.6 million: two flat months would finish off 2013 at $514 million, up 8%. Two months at October's 6% growth level would end the year at $519 million, while two months at 2013's 10% growth pace would end the year at $522 million. That's the likely range, then somewhere around $519 million for the year, an increase of $45 million over 2012. The "gravy day" for the industry — on which we move ahead of 2012's total sales — should be right at Thanksgiving, no pun intended.

The aggregate change figures:


DOLLARS
UNITS
OCTOBER 2013 VS. SEPTEMBER 2013
COMICS
0.30%
-0.57%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
16.57%
16.62%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
4.68%
0.55%
OCTOBER 2013 VS. OCTOBER 2012
COMICS
11.90%
8.69%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
-4.65%
0.05%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
6.36%
7.98%
YEAR-TO-DATE 2013 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2012
COMICS
12.42%
9.46%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
4.69%
3.25%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
9.95%
8.96%

The Walking Dead #115 was the most-ordered comic book in the month and is expected to be in contention for the top seller of the year. Diamond noted in its press release that Image had taken over 10% of the unit market share in October:


PUBLISHER
DOLLAR
SHARE
UNIT
SHARE
DC ENTERTAINMENT
31.02%
33.15%
MARVEL COMICS
30.47%
33.63%
IMAGE COMICS
9.26%
10.85%
IDW PUBLISHING
6.27%
4.96%
DARK HORSE COMICS
5.36%
4.70%
DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
2.47%
2.54%
BOOM! STUDIOS
1.84%
1.78%
EAGLEMOSS PUBLICATIONS LTD
1.40%
0.32%
ARCHIE COMICS
1.01%
1.24%
AVATAR PRESS
1.01%
0.90%
OTHER NON-TOP 10
9.88%
5.94%

The dollar sales track is the one that Comichron has paid more attention to across time (see the charts here), and Image's 9.26% dollar market share this month is only its highest level since July 2012, when Walking Dead #100 came out. Meanwhile, Image's unit share this month is its highest since February 2003, when its unit sales mark that month was 11.24%. Image was regularly above 10% in unit market share in the late 1990s.

Image, we can see from the below, released 59 comics in October to Marvel's 78; that kind of ratio squares with the last time Image was above 10% in unit sales (in February 2003, it had 35 new comic book titles on the market compared to Marvel's 53). The total number of new items shipped:

PUBLISHER
COMICS 
SHIPPED
GRAPHIC NOVELS SHIPPED
MAGAZINES 
SHIPPED
TOTAL
SHIPPED
DC ENTERTAINMENT
100
29
0
129
MARVEL COMICS
78
35
0
113
IDW PUBLISHING
48
29
0
77
IMAGE COMICS
59
17
0
76
DARK HORSE COMICS
38
18
0
56
DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
40
2
0
42
BOOM ENTERTAINMENT
25
3
0
28
VIZ MEDIA
0
25
0
25
ARCHIE COMIC PUBLICATIONS
16
6
0
22
RANDOM HOUSE
0
21
1
22
OTHER
111
157
36
304

Diamond shipped 515 new comics issues in the month, and 342 new graphic novels.

Comic books, up 11.9% over a year ago, saw a $7 title in the #2 slot, Batman #24:

-->
RANK
DESCRIPTION
PRICE
VENDOR
1
$2.99
IMAGE
2
BATMAN #24
$6.99
DC
3
INFINITY #4
$3.99
MARVEL
4
FOREVER EVIL #2
$3.99
DC
5
INFINITY #5
$3.99
MARVEL
6
JUSTICE LEAGUE #24
$3.99
DC
7
SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #1
$3.99
DC
8
THE SANDMAN: OVERTURE #1 (MR) [*]
$4.99
DC
9
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #20
$3.99
MARVEL
10
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #19
$3.99
MARVEL

On the graphic novel side of things, the Batman Vol: 3 Death of the Family hardcover placed first in a list topheavy with higher-priced items:

-->
RANK
DESCRIPTION
PRICE
VENDOR
1
$24.99
DC
2
AVENGERS: ENDLESS WARTIME HC
$24.99
MAR
3
THE JOKER: DEATH OF THE FAMILY HC
$29.99
DC
4
BATMAN: THE COURT OF OWLS BOOK & MASK SET
$24.99
DC
5
AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER VOL. 6: THE SEARCH PART 3
$10.99
DAR
6
HELLBOY: MIDNIGHT CIRCUS HC
$14.99
DAR
7
BATMAN VOLUME 2: THE CITY OF OWL SC
$16.99
DC
8
LAZARUS VOLUME 1
$9.99
IMA
9
SAGA VOLUME 1
$9.99
IMA
10
SAGA VOLUME 2
$14.99
IMA

The final data should be released early next week.

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