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


Thursday, December 3, 2009

November 2009: DC takes seven of Top 10 slots

Diamond Comic Distributors appears to have shaved a full week off of its process when it comes to starting the rollout of sales information; as with last month, we have the actual order rankings almost immediately. Diamond is also back to rolling out just the Top 10 Comics and Trade Paperbacks this time with the full list to follow; click to see the charts for November 2009.

Blackest Night #5 helped DC again dominate the highest part of the top-sellers list for comics; only Captain America Reborn #4 in third from Marvel kept DC from repeating last month's feat of taking the top six slots. Five of the Top 10 comics ordered by retailers were priced at $2.99, five at $3.99. (They very nearly alternate!)

The unit shares and dollar shares show the same companies in the top seven slots: Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image, IDW, Dynamic Forces (Dynamite) and Boom.

Image's Chew, a $9.99 collection, led the trade paperbacks list. It seems likely that one of the $20 volumes below it on the list will have a higher dollar contribution, but that determination will have to wait for the order index numbers.

Probably the most interesting thing about November 2009's data release, when it all becomes available, is in that trade paperbacks list. It was in November 2008 that Diamond first began publishing its Top 300 Trades, rather than its Top 100. Until now, this year, all year-to-year comparisons have been for the truncated Top 100 lists, but now we'll be able to see a one-to-one (or, rather, a 300-to-300) comparison. My guess, given what we've seen in the Overall estimates, is that the Top 300s for this year have tended to come in slightly below last year dollar-wise, but we'll have to see.

Diamond will release its full Top 300s with its order index numbers next — probably early next week if the pattern holds. As explained here before, because of the earlier release, it is not possible to obtain all the needed corroborating data immediately to generate the sales estimates and aggregated overall estimates that we do here on The Comics Chronicles; those tend to become available mid-month, as the individual publishers get their final actual sales reports.

However, as always, we'll publish the estimate-less rankings when they become available and update as we have more information. Be sure to get our RSS feed and sign up for updates on Twitter.
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Anonymous said...

I'm curious how sales in the industry have been panning out what with comic IP's moving across mediums and gaining popularity in areas such as film and video games. Also I'm curious to see if the price hike in the last year or two has been a help to sales or a hindrance. Do you have any sales numbers for the last decade or two that's been adjusted for inflation?

John Jackson Miller said...

The fastest way to cancel out inflation is to look simply at the unit sales tracks for the Top 300 comics over time: you can see these by looking further down this page:

That figure only looks at the periodicals. The Overall figure, which includes every comic book and trade paperback Diamond sells, went from $310.6 million in 2003 (the earliest year for which we have full data) to $436.6 million last year. Inflation would only have taken it to $362 million, had the number of units sold remained the same. The number of units sold has increased -- those units just happen to be trade paperbacks. (And then, as I’ve noted elsewhere, the mass market kicks in another $200+ million in trades that simply did not exist ten years ago.)

Those figures may tell us something, indirecty, about the popularity of comics due to the spread of comics IPs into other media; there's no hard way to measure this, but I think we can assume that at least some of the sales in the mass market that did not exist before (because there once weren't sections for TPBs in as many stores) came from some of that publicity. Certainly we sold a lot more copies of "Watchmen" in 2009 than we would have, absent a film.

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