Comics sales down again in July

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ICv2 has released its July sales analysis. Periodical sales continued a slight decline:

The dollar total for comics purchased by comic stores dropped again in July, by 3%, the sixth consecutive month of year over year declines. It’s getting harder to lay the declines at the feet of tough comparables, with the tail end of Civil War Initiative and Captain America: Fallen Son titles, along with World War Hulk, not providing particularly tough competition for the year over year comparisons. Certainly general market conditions are having an impact, with store visits and purchases impacted by inflation and other macro-economic issues. But July 2008 sales were still higher than July 2006, so the longer term trends are positive.


More:
Top 100 Graphic Novels Actual–July 2008
Top 300 Comics Actual–July 2008
‘Secret Invasion’ Stays Strong in July

Comments

  1. Trends at large aside, surely we all felt it in our guts few years ago (and a lot of people where guestimating this during the time of the high Civil War-Cap death sales) that we were pry hitting the ceiling then, for sales we could squeeze out of our “bi to weekly fanbase” shopping in the direct market.

    Graphic novels sales on the other hand, are up again this year in bookstores and the direct market (from what I’ve read, if I’m wrong please correct me); surely this is where the longevity of a large sustainable readership lies, and this (in general) will make for a healthier and more diverse industry in the long run.

  2. I think the drop has far less to do with content or formatting issues and much more to do with the huge impact of gas prices for those of us with cars (which would be the vast majority of comic fans). When gas surpasses the cover price of the average comic book, it’s not a difficult choice to make which of those two you can cut from your budget.

  3. Torsten Adair says:

    In my day (1986) I would walk uphill, BOTH WAYS, a mile each way, sometimes in the middle of a Nebraska snowstorm or a humid, sweltering summer, to get my weekly fix of Marvel Comics. (Being a True Believer, I would wait until after Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends was shown on NBC.) Years later, I’d take a different bus home from work and stop to get my comics.

    Now I take the subway. $81 a month, available 24/7.

    So… if you stop buying comics, you don’t have to drive to the comicbook store… saving even more money. Comics have always been at the bottom of most people’s budgets. That’s how I kicked the Marvel habit… I kept putting off purchases… “I’ll get it next week.” …and then the next issue was out, and I was two issues behind, and I figured, I don’t miss it.

    If gas is a problem, then get your comics by mail. Or patronize your local library. (The more comics you check out, the more comics the librarians will stock.) Or set up a comicbook club where the members carpool ($1 a head for gas), then you go to the driver’s home, share your comics over snacks, just like kids used to do in the 50’s, saving even more money.

  4. ejulp says:

    @Mark Engblom “I think the drop has far less to do with content or formatting issues and much more to do with the huge impact of gas prices for those of us with cars (which would be the vast majority of comic fans). When gas surpasses the cover price of the average comic book, it’s not a difficult choice to make which of those two you can cut from your budget. ”

    See, I don’t completely buy that…most people have pull lists, and I know from the stores I’ve hung out in, a lot of the customers buy their comics once a month in one huge stack…I don’t see gas prices having a giant impact on the sales yet…with a pull list, you are obligated to your intended purchases, if driving is an issue you’d just pick them up later in one bunch.

    Yeah, the horrible economy keeps less extra spending cash in your pocket…but I’m almost wondering if after rebounding from bottoming out in like 1999-98 if we’ve just bounced back as far as we can with the kind o audience we can attract with the sort of “content” most comics contain. Maybe the whole “waiting on the trade” has caught up with these sales as well, maybe people get them at Barnes and Noble? Maybe I’m just playing the devil’s advocate because all this “chicken little” talk won’t help anyone if we throw our hands up in the air and blame the direct market sales on the economy.

    I won’t argue that gas prices or the economy doesn’t help, but I think if FC and SI were as good as they were hyped to be, as well as DC’s super hero selling what it used to, current sales would be closer to what they were. If the content is compelling enough, asses will remain in the seats, it just that, with a harsher economy this might mean we have to improve the quality of every comic that’s sold, so yeah, in my mind this IS a content and format issue, it has to be, its the only way to change this situation.

  5. Don’t comic books sales always slump in the summer every year?

  6. Habe, it’s a year-to-year decline. So down compared to last summer is definitely down.

    And yes, the high inflation, led by gas prices, has personally led me to curtail things like buying comics. Sad but true. I’m making a little more than I was at this time last year, but everything is costing a LOT more.

  7. I know the economy is always an issue, plus the ever-popular video game/movies argument for taking money away from comics. One other aspect I was curious about was the ever-stretching collector dollar. There is just tons more for genre fans and collectors to purchase these days.

    I can really only use myself as an example, but I like getting hardcover collections, mini-busts, statues, Mighty Muggs, Toon Tumblers, etc.

    It used to be all I got was comics because that was all there was for me to buy.

  8. I can only speak personally…

    The combo of a tough economy and more comics rising to $3.99 make me stop and think, “Is this comic going to give me $3.99 worth of entertainment?”

    i.e. =
    • 15 minute comic for 2.99-3.99 OR a 2 hour movie for 10 bucks
    • a story that will cost 2.99-3.99 or a gallon of gas that can take me somewhere for the day (like the beach).
    • 2.99-3.99 for a partial decompressed story or a mmorpg that costs $15.95 for a one month (playing non stop or at my sporadic leisure)

    You get the idea.

  9. AERose says:

    Interesting that, while the overall sales are down, the sales of the #300 comic are up substantially.

  10. timothycat says:

    The comic stores I shop at have all stated that it’s the economy. They are ordering less. None of the major comic stores in Chicago ordered either the unsigned or signed Comic Book Tattoo hardcover. I have not seen a single copy of the signed American Flagg (both of which, as a decent income professional I wanted). When I moved from New Haven to Chicago four months ago I expected to have a much easier time finding such items. Add to that IDW, Gladstone, Marvel, etc. producing more expensive reprints of amazing material and I think you have a very obvioius answer to the problem. If I were the big guys I’d be adding more high end stuff that is easy to get at reasonable prices on Amazon and stop flooding the market with low end spinoffs to the ongoing crisis and invasion type events. Right now the the people with money are the older fans with stable incomes not the high school and college aged folks that buy the floppies. We’re not talking about a permanent change, just an adaption to what’s currently going on with the economy. My vote for stupidest strategic move is DC putting out the Starman Omnibuses out at nine month or more intervals. I will never cease to be amazed at the ex-fan-boy business decisions of the folks at the big two. When the economy is bad you need to appeal to the nostalgia market as these are the folks who are least vulnerable to economic downturn. Only Fantagraphics, Glastone, and IDW seem to get it.

    Best,
    Timothycat

  11. Re: AERose
    “Interesting that, while the overall sales are down, the sales of the #300 comic are up substantially.”
    ===========================================

    I noticed that, too. ICV2’s June 300 sales projections put #300 @ 2,500 orders,
    whereas July’s sale projections cut off #300 @ 4,200.

  12. “If gas is a problem, then get your comics by mail. Or patronize your local library.”

    Torsten, I think the suggestion is that the rising cost of living is leaving American consumers with a smaller disposable income, not simply that it costs too much to drive to the store.

  13. The bottom of the graphic novel list (#100) is also up, though not as dramatically/

    http://www.indignantonline.com/2008/08/20/the-bottom-of-the-comics-bestseller-list-is-higher-too-bad-about-the-mid-list/

  14. Overall Diamond orders were up 13% — reflecting improved strength of sales in the “long tail” not captured in the Top 100 trade paperbacks (which were up 19% year over year all on their own). Full report:

    http://www.comichron.com/Home/tabid/171/EntryID/283/Default.aspx

  15. Alan Coil says:

    Silly Torsten Adair, walking uphill both ways. Everybody knows if you ride your bicycle it is downhill both ways.

  16. Wraith says:

    Of course sales are down. What do you expect when the big 2 use gimmicks to artificially inflate sales and cater to the small existing and shrinking older teen and adult comic book readership. The big 2 are also banking on the near mythical new older teen and adult readers to flock to the stores in droves and buy their comics once they (a) realize how “mature” and “grown up” their comics are or (b) see the movies based on their comics.

  17. Relias says:

    You know the weird thing is comic books are down and everybody is quick to point out the economy. Like it is the only reason. Here’s a few things I’ve noticed since coming back to collecting comics in 2005.

    1. When I came back to collecting comics the TPB market had for various reasons became hugely popular. That was a shock to me but overtime I accepted it.

    2. When I came back…. we had an average of about 4 100,000 and above comics a month.

    3. The Online market had taken a nice chunk out of the back issue market.

    4. To get into the top 300 at times all you had to do was move a little over (or around) 1,000 units. I mean literally one month I think around the holidays the No. 300 book shifted 995-996 copies.

    The thing of it is… or what I’m trying to say is if you take out the events, the relaunches, the alternate covers etc. and allow for the fact that more people are waiting for trade then buying monthlies. It seems to me we are returning to about the norm. The difference more or less coming from the bottom half of the 300. Cause now you have to move somewhere in the 2,000 range to make the 300. So actually we might be doing better overall since I came back in 2005 and that was considered a good market full of potential. I also think retailers to a point have learned their lessons on over ordering and the smaller publishers like I said before are helping in their own way to.

  18. Somebody says:

    So… uh… where the hell are the July sales charts?! Paul O’Brien’s said at his blog that he’s written & sent in the Marvel one, so WhyTF isn’t that up?!

  19. The Beat says:

    Coming, vacation and moving delays.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] ICv2 has posted July sales estimates. The entire comics market is down, but the Flash numbers are better than expected. Flash #242 sold an estimated 30,325 copies. It’s still down from June, but only by 1.5% — and total comics sales have been declining over the last few months. This is the same data that The Beat uses for their sales commentary, so I can use the numbers from earlier posts. [...]

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