Robot 6

Augustmageddon? Comics sales drop sharply

Brightest Day #7, the top seller for August

Maybe it was the heat (and the humidity). Maybe people decided to go out of town instead of going to the comics store. Maybe there just wasn’t anything good to buy. Whatever the reason, both comics and graphic novels sales “plummeted,” in the words of usually staid retailer site ICv2, last month. Comics sales were down 17% from August 2009, graphic novel sales were down 21%, and no individual monthly comic sold more than 100,000 copies. Even Scott Pilgrim couldn’t rescue this dog of a month.

The top-selling comic for August was Brightest Day #7, at 93,459 copies, followed by Brightest Day #8, at 91,546. The numbers drop off steadily but sharply after that, so by the time you get to the 25th comic, Batman: Odyssey #2, sales are 47,675, or about half that of the top seller. That looks frighteningly like exponential decay, but the graph flattens out after that, with every comic in the top 150 selling more than 10,000 copies. The bottom of the list is occupied by Lady Robotika #2, which sold a measly 2,646 copies.

As for graphic novels, the sixth volume of Scott Pilgrim topped the list, with 8,092 copies sold, and the fourth clocked in at number four, with 4,818 copies. On this chart, the number five book, Dark Tower: Battle of Jericho Hill, sold half as many copies as the top seller, although again, the graph flattens out after that. The bottom seller was Eden, with 329 copies. And it was clobberin’ time for manga: The top manga on the chart was vol. 51 of InuYasha, checking in at number 67 with 1,214 copies sold.

ICv2′s numbers reflect the direct market only. That is the market for monthly comics, but graphic novels could do better in retail bookstores—we’ll know when the BookScan numbers come out.

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Comments

18 Comments

Hey Marvel and DC (especially Marvel): The $3.99 price point is too much.

Sorry no one warned you when you first raised prices – Oh, wait, that’s right: EVERYONE DID.

I´d think it has to do mainly with prices rising. Before, one could afford comics but now it so expensive that I prefer spendind that money with my family, going out or watching a movie. I still buy comics but not as much as I did. It still upsets me to pay for some comics so I´ve been cuttin down my suscription. Companies should think reaching people like they did 80 year ago.

Amen, Matt. Though i’m sure they’ll blame something else…

Price point and CONSTANT epic crossovers and sweeping character changes the last 4-5 years has drained me of any desire to jump back in the water. I’d barely be considered a casual buyer at this point. Sorry I don’t feel like doing a bunch of homework before reading one of your funnybooks, Marvel/DC.

I would also say that overstocking the shelves with 2nd, 3rd dn 4th reprints and novelty alternitive covers would be another reason why sales are down. Is it any wonder that so many new series’ get cancelled within the first year?

I would also lask the larger companies to look at new strategies to reduced prices in the overseas market.

Currently here in Australia, we are paying between $5 and $6 for a $2.99 US cover price and between $6 and $7 for a 3.99 US cover price. And that’s if you are buying from a reputable local comic shop. When you look at the comics sold at the news stand, not only is the selection of titles decreasing, but the prices are about $1 higher than the local comic shop. Then there is Borders, the only chain of book shops to offer a graphic novel/comic book section within their premises. Now, you would think a major chain store like this would be beneficial to local comic collectors, but who in their right mind is going to pay $12 for a $2.99 US cover price or $14 for a $3.99 US cover price? Even ‘kids’ comics like Archie and Scooby Doo are being sold for $12.

I have also noticed, when a new comic book based movie comes out at the cinemas, there are umpty-zillion pieces of related merchandise to be found in every department store and shop, but you still have to make the trek to a local comic shop to find the original source material.

Yup.

Too many x-overs coupled with an assinine rise in cover prices, has taken me from being a $150 a month comic buyer down to $20 a month, and about half of that most times anymore.

Now that I don’t really buy comics that much I really dig all the things that I can do with the money that’s a helluva lot better of a value than an overpriced chapter in a bloated story that only takes 5 minutes to read.

I guess the good thing is that I’ve finally been “cured” of my “completism” so thanks for that comics industry!

Marvel & DC will be quick to point out that the $2.99 titles sold just as poorly as the $3.99 titles. Thus the price must have nothing to do with the abysmal sales!
Yeah, that’s how they think.

Of course, here’s the funny thing: After years of reading only trades, I recently have started getting back into single issues, the big difference being I do not buy them at a local comic shop. I use an online retailer and save 40-50%, making the price increases not so bad for me. I don’t know how that factors into overall sales, but I am getting things I would never get if I was still going to a brick-and-mortar store.

A lot of major titles didn’t come out in August — BATMAN AND ROBIN, RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE, THE FLASH, GREEN LANTERN all come to mind in the range between 50+/80+ K.

Scott Pilgrim did well on BN.com. It took a few weeks after the movie opened, but all six books made the Top 1000 listing, and a few hit the Top 100 for a few days. There were no significant hardcover releases in August, which is a dead month, as traditional publishers take a holiday before promoting Fall/Holiday titles.

From the August 2009 ICv2 analysis:
“Sales on the top 300 comics were up 5% in August vs. the year ago period, while sales on the top 100 graphic novels declined 16%.”

August 2008:
Comics dropped 9%, GN rose 16% (Watchmen) from the previous year

August 2007
Comics up 7%, GN down 6% from the previous year

ICv2 speculated that the price increase was the reason for the drop, but at first I thought that wouldn’t affect the total dollar sales—that people would spend the same amount but buy fewer comics. But maybe it is just discouraging some folks from buying comics altogether, which would make it a losing strategy.

It’s the prices. The only titles I buy regularly anymore are Batgirl, Birds of Prey,Secret Avengers, and Hawkeye & Mockingbird precisely for that reason. It’s difficult to afford any more.

The sky is falling!

Torsten, I thought about that too, but then wouldn’t sales be consistent from August to August? You could make that argument if there was a drop from July to August, but ICv2 is comparing apples to apples here.

I only buy a couple of Marvels each month due to the $3.99 price point (and I buy none of those). I’m spending probably 80% less money on Marvels than 2 years ago.

Yeah, really smart price increase Marvel….

I find that I’m buying more DC/Vertigo comics with the $2.99 price tag from Batman – Madame Xanadu. I’ve reduced my Marvel titles from 4 to 2 …. love Brubaker’s Captain America. Unhappy with what Marvel’s done to Peter Parker and X-Men …. sure miss Josh Whedon on Astonishing X-Men.

Then their are outstanding books I’m willing to pay a little extra for …. such as Matt Wagners Green Hornet: Year One from Dynamite.

But I have to say that these price increases have put a damper on the comicbook industry.

When you consider that both Marvel and DC have entered into the Film and Direct to DVD markets they should consider some of their comic book titles as lost leaders to urge more people to see their Films and DVD’s …. which is a much more lucrative market.

A price reduction back to $2.00 – $2.50 a title could really boost those sales figures and print runs.

Are you listening Quesada and Didio ?

I’m to blame, sorry Marvel. The $4 a book just won’t cut it. I stopped cold turkey after 16 years or buying Marvel books month after month. You saved the world from Norman and then I dropped you like a rock. Enjoy the revenue, hope that breakeven point is within reach for you.

Funny the manga publishers were blaming the manga scanlators for the drop of manga sells, looks like that isn’t the case if you personally ask its the economic downturn, people are saving there budgets.

And the manga publishers actions on closing down onemnga and other free viewing sites will only backfire them.
People we are still in a global recession.

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