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Welcome to Comichron, a resource for comic book circulation data and other information gathered by
John Jackson Miller and other pop culture archaeologists interested in comics history.

 

Monday, October 17, 2016

September 2016 comics sales estimates: DC takes 39 of Top 50 slots

by John Jackson Miller


http://bit.ly/CCBatman6
Even as the Great Recession was raging, average comics cover prices continued to increase until 2010, when DC rolled back most of its line from $3.99 to $2.99. The move was, to paraphrase one insider, one of the most popular yet least financially successful moves the publisher had tried; even with the price drop, comics sales continued to struggle until the DC relaunch in the fall of 2011. In the years since, most of DC's line had risen back to $3.99 — when for "Rebirth" DC determined to have a price drop coincide with its relaunch event, with returnability on the first few issues thrown in to boot. The result continues to resonate in the Direct Market, as DC placed 39 titles in the Top 50 in September. Click to see the comics sales estimates for September 2016.

Batman #6, the first of the fully nonreturnable issues, led the charts with orders of nearly 139,000 copies. That's a hard number, not reduced for returns. Batman #5, the previous month, shipped about 158,000 returnable copies, of which 142,000 were reported in the charts; so retailers ordered nonreturnable copies at about 88% of their returnable levels. That suggests both that were pretty sure about selling most of what they ordered, and that they had already honed in their returnable orders close to demand levels.

One consequence of the price drop is that while unit comics sales were up 23% in the third quarter over the same period last year — more comics were sold in the Top 300 than in any quarter since the fourth quarter of 1996! — comics dollar sales were only up 18%. So it's still open to question how well 2016 will finish out versus last year: we're up only $11 million, or less than 3%.

http://bit.ly/CCWD26
A factor in that will be how well trade paperbacks perform into the holiday season, and there again we've seen another impact of Rebirth: graphic novels were off 9% in the third quarter, likely as retailers directed more dollars towards comic books. Walking Dead Vol. 26 led the September charts with nearly 21,000 copies ordered.

This marks the beginning of the 21st year I've been tracking monthly comics sales — read more about that here — and as such, we can now do 20-year comparisons with what was sold in September 1996. That month was the first month of Marvel's "Heroes Reborn" mini-reboot, and we can see a number of things right away.

http://www.comichron.com/monthlycomicssales/1996/1996-09.html
Sales volumes on the major titles were much higher in 1996: Led by Jim Lee's Fantastic Four #1, September 1996 had six titles over 200,000 copies and 23 over 100,000; September 2016 has none over 200k, and only four in six figures. But the titles from the smaller publishers weren't as strong back then: by the time you reach the 300th place title, September 1996 is at parity with September 2016 (4,223 copies versus 4,239 copies). And September 2016 has many more titles below 300th place.

So while this September's unit sales in the Top 300 were off 32% versus the same month 20 years ago, it's worth remembering that we probably have more sales not in the Top 300 now — and, of course, we have graphic novels and digital adding sales in a way they didn't then. Also recall that because we were getting preorder data in 1996, actual sales levels were probably different anyway. They could have been higher due to reorders, yes — but also the charts back then included titles that shipped in later months or never came out. (Dollar sales of the Top 300 are actually up 5% versus September 1996 — inflation in action right there!)

The most important thing to remember about these cross-time comparisons is that the largest factor in determining Direct Market comics levels across time is the number of comics shops. At this time in 1996, we still had between 4,500 and 5,000 comics stores — well over what we have today. But shops then were closing swiftly, and today we're seeing modest growth.

The changes over time:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
September 2016: 7.54 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: +21%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +4%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +14%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +29%
NEW! Versus 20 years ago this month: -32%
3rd Quarter 2016: 25.48 million copies, +25% vs. Q3 2015
YEAR TO DATE: 65.52 million copies, +1% vs. 2015, +28% vs. 2011, +8% vs. 2006, +35% vs. 2001

ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
September 2016: 8.15 million copies
September 2016 versus one year ago this month: +15.61%
3rd Quarter 2016: 27.88 million copies, +23.2% vs. Q3 2015
YEAR TO DATE: 72.83 million copies, +1.59% vs. 2015

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
September 2016: $27.2 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +12%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +11%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +33%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +66%
NEW! Versus 20 years ago this month: +5%
3rd Quarter 2016: $92.36 million, +17% vs. Q3 2015
YEAR TO DATE: $252.1 million, -1% vs. 2015, +42% vs. 2011, +35% vs. 2006, +90% vs. 2001

ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
September 2016 versus one year ago this month: +9.23% 
3rd Quarter 2016: +18.31% vs. Q3 2015
YEAR TO DATE: +3.32%

TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
September 2016: $7.41 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -5%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +16%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: +25%
Versus 15 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +30%
3rd Quarter 2016: $21.7 million, -7% vs. Q3 2015
YEAR TO DATE: $66.43 million, +7% vs. 2015

ALL TRADE PAPERBACK SALES
September 2016 versus one year ago this month: -10.94%
3rd Quarter 2016: -8.66%
YEAR TO DATE: +1.15%

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
September 2016: $34.61 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +8%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +3%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: +13%
Versus 15 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +66%
3rd Quarter 2016: $114.06 million, +12% vs. Q3 2015
YEAR TO DATE: $322.39 million, unchanged vs. 2015

ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK SALES
September 2016 versus one year ago this month: +2.2%
3rd Quarter 2016: +9.40%
YEAR TO DATE: +2.65%

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
September 2016: approximately $46.33 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +2%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +20%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +50%
3rd Quarter 2016: $154.51 million, +9% vs Q3 2015
YEAR TO DATE: $434.67 million, +3% vs. 2015

RELEASES
New comic books released: 458
New graphic novels released: 301
New magazines released: 16
All new releases: 775

The average comic book in the Top 300 cost $3.87; the average comic book retailers ordered cost $3.61. The median and most common price for comics offered was $3.99. Click to see comics prices across time.


John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 20 years, including a decade editing the industry's retail trade magazine; he is the author of several guides to comics, as well as more than a hundred comic books for various franchises.  He is the author of several novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Overdraft: The Orion Offensive, and Star Wars: A New Dawn, now available in paperback. His trilogy for 2016, Star Trek: Prey, ships in consecutive months in September, October, and November.

Visit his fiction site at http://www.farawaypress.com. And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.


Friday, October 14, 2016

Batman, Walking Dead lead strong September 2016 for comics sales; plus our new weekly sales breakdown


by John Jackson Miller

While this September had one fewer shipping weeks than last September, comics sales nonetheless bested their performance from a year ago, according to a preliminary report issued this morning from Diamond Comic Distributors.

Comichron estimates that comics ships in North America ordered $46.33 million in comic books, graphic novels, and magazines in the month of September, up more than 2% over the same month last year. That figure includes 8.15 million comic books, an increase of nearly 16% over last September's figure of 7.04 million copies. As reported here last month, we're now able to track overall comic book sales both into the future and all the way back to the start of 2011.

http://bit.ly/CCWD26Sales were off from the blockbuster August — although not by much at all once you consider August's fifth shipping week. Retailers ordered 2.05 million comics per shipping week in August versus 2.04 million comics per week in September. Compare that with last September, when retailers ordered 1.41 million comics per shipping week, and you have a month — led by DC's Batman #6 — that looks pretty good on the comics side.

And while graphic novels — led by Image's Walking Dead Vol. 26 — When we're looking at dollars, September was actually stronger per week than August was: retailers ordered $11.58 million in comic books, graphic novels, and magazines per shipping week in September, versus $11.53 million per week in August. All this is encapsulated in our new, Comichron-exclusive weekly sales breakdown, which breaks down each month by the number of "New Comics Days":

September 2015August 2016September 2016
Comics ordered in month7,046,70010,260,0008,145,400
Total value of comics, GNs, and
magazines ordered in month
$45,330,000 $57,660,000 $46,334,000
New Comics Days in month554
Comics ordered PER SHIP WEEK
in month
1,409,1402,052,0002,036,350
Total value of comics, GNs, magazines
ordered PER SHIP WEEK in month
$9,066,000.00 $11,532,000.00 $11,583,500.00

The weekly breakdown above is an imperfect measure for a number of reasons — the number of new monthly comics released does not increase by 25% when you add a fifth shipping week to a month, so a four-week month should look a little stronger than a five-week one when controlling for the number of New Comics Days. But adding the measure should serve as a reminder of the calendar’s role.

The aggregate changes over time:

DollarsUnits
September 2016 vs. August 2016
Comics-23.78%-20.61%
Graphic Novels-8.25%-8.37%
TOTAL COMICS/GNs-19.65%-19.79%
September 2016 vs. September 2015
Comics9.23%15.61%
Graphic Novels-10.94%-14.46%
TOTAL COMICS/GNs2.20%12.57%
3rd Quarter 2016 vs. 2nd Quarter 2016
Comics8.61%14.57%
Graphic Novels-10.41%-12.89%
TOTAL COMICS/GNs2.60%12.16%
3rd Quarter 2016 vs. 3rd Quarter 2015
Comics18.31%23.20%
Graphic Novels-8.66%-13.19%
TOTAL COMICS/GNs9.40%19.79%
Year-to-Date 2016 Vs. Year-to-Date 2015
Comics3.32%1.59%
Graphic Novels1.15%-0.82%
TOTAL COMICS/GNs2.65%1.39%

The market shares found DC again at the top of both categories:

PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
DC36.53%43.45%
Marvel31.40%30.75%
Image9.04%8.80%
IDW4.60%3.55%
Dark Horse3.23%2.43%
Boom2.38%1.95%
Titan1.29%1.27%
Viz1.10%0.39%
Oni1.02%0.79%
Dynamite0.94%0.78%
Other8.46%5.84%

Batman #6 was, as noted, the top-ordered comic book of the month. The issue is not marked with an asterisk, and thus did not have its orders reduced for returnability. Same for issue #7, which placed third.

Comic BookPricePublisher
1Batman #6$2.99DC
2All-Star Batman #2*$4.99DC
3Batman #7$2.99DC
4Civil War II #5$4.99Marvel
5Justice League #4*$2.99DC
6The Walking Dead #158$2.99Image
7Trinity #1*$2.99DC
8Supergirl #1*$2.99DC
9Suicide Squad #2*$2.99DC
10Justice League #5*$2.99DC

As noted, a new Walking Dead volume led the Top 10 Graphic novels for the month:

Graphic NovelPricePublisher
1The Walking Dead Vol. 26: Call To Arms Tp (Mr)$14.99Image
2Wonder Woman: The True Amazon HC$22.99DC
3Batman Vol. 8: Superheavy$16.99DC
4Batman Vol. 9: Bloom HC$24.99DC
5The Fix Vol. 1$9.99Image
6Avatar: The Last Airbender Vol. 13: North And South Part 1$10.99Dark Horse
7Secret Wars$34.99Marvel
8Batman: The Killing Joke Special Edition HC$17.99DC
9Justice League Vol. 7: The Darkseid War Part 1$16.99DC
10Harley Quinn Vol. 4: A Call To Arms$16.99DC

And here's how many new books and comics came out from publishers in the month:

Comics
shipped
Graphic
Novels
shipped
Magazines
shipped
Total
shipped
Marvel82400122
DC76360112
Image5318172
IDW4013053
Dark Horse2618044
Boom2414038
Viz023023
Titan172322
Dynamite164020
Oni92011
Other11513112258
TOTAL45830116775

We'll be back on Monday with not just the final estimates — but our first twenty-year sales tracks on the Top 300 comics, both in terms of comics and dollars.


John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 20 years, including a decade editing the industry's retail trade magazine; he is the author of several guides to comics, as well as more than a hundred comic books for various franchises. 

He is the author of several novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Overdraft: The Orion Offensive, and Star Wars: A New Dawn, now available in paperback. His trilogy for 2016, Star Trek: Prey, ships in consecutive months in September, October, and November.

Visit his fiction site at http://www.farawaypress.com. And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.
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