Robot 6

Comics sales down in 2010

Next year's fashion forecast for the comics biz?

I suppose this comes as no surprise to anyone who reads the newspapers, but comics sales in the direct market are down this year compared to last. ICv2 has the grim statistics: Year-to-date dollar sales of comics are down 5.79%; graphic novels sales are down 4.35%. Cushioning the blow a bit is the strong performance of The Walking Dead; November graphic novel sales are up 14.64% compared to last November because of that book alone. As ICv2 notes, comics sales did not suffer the same hit as other entertainment sectors during 2008 and 2009, but this is looking like a slow decline rather than a dramatic drop. ICv2 also posts the market share for November, which shows DC and Marvel neck and neck; DC has 8 of the top ten sellers as well. This attracts its fair share of commentary over at The Beat, which also breaks out the stats into handy charts, and John Jackson Miller has his analysis at The Comichron.

What does it all mean? Comics stores have a loyal clientele, and judging from the comments here and at other blogs, they are more likely to reduce the number of comics they buy than give up the comics-store experience altogether. Perhaps that’s what is happening, or maybe they are shifting some purchases to digital. Diamond’s statistics are only one slice of the comics market, although it is the biggest slice for periodical comics; it would be interesting to track digital comics in parallel to see if the market as a whole is growing or if digital is indeed cannibalizing print sales. The other missing pieces are bookstores and libraries, but I doubt much good news will be coming from either sector; the big bookstore chains are stumbling badly this year, and my local stores have cut back on their graphic novel inventory, while libraries, like all branches of local government, must contend with budget cuts.

Of course, funnybooks themselves are only a slice of the companies’ business; perhaps they make it all up on the back end through movies and lunchboxes. Regardless, I think 2011 is going to be an interesting, perhaps pivotal year, for the industry, as digital sales start to pick up and the book chains head toward whatever fate awaits them.

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4 Comments

GN sales were up last year due to the Watchmen buzz, so a dip this year is excepted even with the buzz on Scott Pilgrim and The Walking Dead.

Way too many comics are being published, leading to poor product and poor sales. The Best writers and artists need to work on the best properties. Simple as that. I’m mostly talking about Marvel and DC.

Of course I feel the 3rd-6th main publishers are also releasing way too many books. Comics are severely diluted right now. Lots of choice for consumers on one hand, too many books on the other that are simply sub-par to sustain.

Just to throw in my 2 cents on this issue.

I have been a very loyal reader since 1993 when I was 10. My store closed on the 31st of Oct and due to the lost of my store, the rampant 3.99 cost of books, and poor stores near where I live now in the D.C. region…..I’ve quit 100%. I haven’t gotten a comic book in almost 6 weeks and every time I think about it now I get angry and depressed at the same time.

I love the medium, characters, and stories. But 3.99 is too MUCH!! My biggest anger over this goes to Marvel. I bought nearly every Marvel book every week for the last 8-10 years. To come out and say we are lowering prices in 2011 after DC and then for now 2 months in a row have no decrease on any new title is a FLAT OUT LIE! You lied Marvel so I walked away. I’m hoping to get an iPad for the holidays and may jump back to get a few items like my GiJoe and Transformers from IDW and Green Lantern books but that is it. I went from 400-500 a month in comics to nada. So that’s $5000-6000 a year gone from the industry. This was pre my very good discount btw.

I work hard and have been lucky to get 2 raises and keep my job in this recession so while I am not hurting like many others 3.99 is still too much!!! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Marvel has Disney backing them up and could make a very aggressive stance to reinvigorate the industry and bring in kids, new readers, and older ones who quit long ago. But they refuse to do so. Their goal appears to be draining every last cent from older readers and then slowly watching the comic just die.

I enjoy the movies, games, TV shows, but I want comics and that just does not seem to be their focus anymore. My hat off to DC for their new stance on 2.99 as they seem to finally get it. You need the comics they are the base from which everything else comes from. DC gets it Marvel does not and as the industry leader if Marvel doesn’t do anything everyone will feel the hurt. I fear this is only the beginning of the industry’s pain but hope I am wrong.

re: Jason.
I agree with your main point–Marvel lied, and prices are too high. I can’t imagine dropping from $500 to nothing though. I have been buying comic books steady since 1984 and will never stop.

Why don’t you just take some of that money and buy comics being published by other companies besides Marvel, DC or even IDW? There’s Top Shelf, Boom!, Dark Horse, Oni Press and many, many others…

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