DC's decisive October win lifted a lot of boats

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Green Lantern 2 DC's decisive October win lifted a lot of boats
The month’s startling sales charts are analyzed at ICv2 with a look at the overall growth for the year:

The October growth for the over-all market pulled up the year-to-date numbers to around a 2% decline in comics and graphic novel sales for the first ten months of 2011, compared to the same period in 2010. That number has now been improving for the last three months. Comics are nearly flat for the year (down .23%), and graphic novels are down a little over 5% (down 5.39%), bringing the over-all market to a 1.93% decline year-to-date over 2010.
If current trends continue, 2011 will end up being an up year for comics and graphic novels in comic stores, an incredible turnaround from dismal trends as recent as July.

On the dollar side, the New 52 #2s showed remarkable staying power:

Sales of the second month of DC’s New 52 titles (all #2s) declined only 6% from the sales levels of the #1s, less than half the typical decay between the first and second issues of new series.  Sales on 14 of the #2s were up from the first issues, fifteen if you count Justice League, which was up from the August number but down from the combined August and September sales. 



More: Top 300 Comics Actual–October 2011
Top 300 Graphic Novels Actual–October 2011

With so many relists on the charts, a number of books from other publishers were squeezed off. However the #300 book — Robert E Howard’s Savage Sword #3 — sold 5,167, according to the ICv2 metric. Last month, the #300 book — Stan Lee Starborn #10 — charts with 3,341 copies sold. So that’s exactly how much the rising tide lifted that boat.

Comments

  1. “With so many relists on the charts, a number of books from other publishers were squeezed off. However the #300 book — Robert E Howards Savage Sword #3 — sold 5,167, according to the ICv2 metric. Last month, the #300 book — Stan Lee Starborn #10 — charts with 3,341 copies sold. So that’s exactly how much the rising tide lifted that boat.”

    That’ not necessarily true — it just means that we don’t get to SEE the books that would normally have been in that range. Whether or not they actually did any better, we don’t know.

    If you’ve got 50 extra DC books on the chart that sell between 5,000 and 30,000 units in re-orders, then it’s only natural for the No. 300 book to have higher sales than usual. That doesn’t mean everybody else is doing well, though — it just means that DC is doing extremely well, grabbing 50 more spots than they usually would have.

  2. Edward says:

    DC Comics: The best

  3. Darren says:

    “If you’ve got 50 extra DC books on the chart that sell between 5,000 and 30,000 units in re-orders, then it’s only natural for the No. 300 book to have higher sales than usual. That doesn’t mean everybody else is doing well, though — it just means that DC is doing extremely well, grabbing 50 more spots than they usually would have.”

    That’s not quite what happened here, is it? It’s not 50 *extra* books – if any, it’s fewer spots than DC would normally occupy in the top 300. So from that perspective, you might actually expect a few extra lower-selling books sneak into the top 300.

    Still, the point stands – to see whether the boats were lifted, you’d be better off comparing the average sales of non-DC books in August versus September, right?

  4. Darren:

    “That’s not quite what happened here, is it? It’s not 50 *extra* books”

    Yes, it is: All the “New 52″ debut issues charted again via their re-orders in October — minus MEN OF WAR #1, plus JUSTICE LEAGUE #1, plus the JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 COMBO PACK, so it’s 53 extra books, actually, selling between 5,000 and 30,000 units each.

    This only means those particular debut issues are doing extremely well, however. It doesn’t mean that anybody other than DC did better in October. On the contrary, I submit that those re-orders may make October itself look much better than it was for the overall market, at least as far as the Top 300 statistics are concerned.

    It’s entirely possible that the “New 52″ did result in other books from other publishers doing better, as well, mind you. I just don’t think we can tell that from these particular data yet. We’d actually have to look at those publishers in isolation to see how they were doing in October, minus all the extra DC traffic.

  5. No, there were 50 extra DC books on the chart in October – the reorders/reprints of September’s #1s. There were 129 DC books, which is more than ever before.

    But by ‘lifted boats’, I guess we mean ‘made it more difficult for the smaller sellers to get into the top 300′.

  6. Correction:

    “… so it’s 53 extra books …”

    52, I meant. I counted the regular-edition JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 twice.

  7. Darren says:

    Ah, I see. Thanks for the clarification.

  8. Marc is right – the higher sales on the number 300 book in October just demonstrate that there were a lot of DCU titles on the chart (the whole October line plus virtually all of the September releases) but it doesn’t mean that anyone else is seeing increased sales.

    Take EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT IRIS. It sold roughly the same number of copies in September (5,502) as in October (5,309). But it was at number 255 on the September chart and number 297 in October. Similar points could be made about KA-ZAR (dropping 252 to 296), BART SIMPSON COMICS (256 to 295), and DMZ (254 to 291).

    This is not a “rising tide” effect – it’s simply a case of books being forced down (or off) the chart by fifty-odd extra DC titles charting on the strength of re-orders.

    On the bright side, DC’s success isn’t swamping these books either. Their sales simply appear to be unaffected by the DC relaunch one way or the other.

  9. Torsten Adair says:

    ICv2 has total sales for each month, and lists percentages for each publisher. How did the dollars and share differ from month to month? That’s how you prove the rising tide hypothesis.

    What the October chart shows is that DC is placing a lot of comics in First Class, and a lot of titles in steerage are being pushed below the waterline where they are not visible.

  10. MBunge says:

    Heaven forbid anyone accuse Marc-Oliver Frisch of being anti-DC or anything but if you really want to see if the New 52 lifted any boats, wouldn’t it make more sense to compare the sales of October’s issue of SAVAGE SWORD to the previous issue in May? Wouldn’t comparing the sales of a single title both pre- and post-New 52 be a pretty good indication of at least how retailers are reacting? I mean, it’s not like there was any other reason for the Direct Market to dramatically increase orders for an $8 anthology, was there?

    So, the October issue of SAVAGE SWORD sold 5,167.

    The May issue, which also charted at #300, sold 2,913.

    Hmm. That would be a pretty spectacular percentage increase for a normal comic. I’m not sure how to describe it for an $8 anthology that comes out 2 or 3 times a year.

    Mike

  11. “It’s entirely possible that the “New 52″ did result in other books from other publishers doing better, as well, mind you. I just don’t think we can tell that from these particular data yet.”

    Clearly the words of a person biased against DC.

  12. “So, the October issue of SAVAGE SWORD sold 5,167.

    The May issue, which also charted at #300, sold 2,913.”

    And what exactly leads you to attribute that increase to DC’s success, rather than, say, a hundred other potential factors?

  13. It is very important to note that the charts are LAGGING indicators of sales — at best October figures on SAVAGE SWORD (or whatever) are results of what retailers were thinking in SEPTEMBER.

    We won’t provably know if “boats were lifted” until the November chart, at the earliest (and, really, it’s probably December)

    -B

  14. MBunge says:

    “And what exactly leads you to attribute that increase to DC’s success, rather than, say, a hundred other potential factors?”

    It may have nothing to do with DC’s success. But the theory being advanced is that DC’s success just pushed other titles off the charts rather than leading those books to sell any better. If SAVAGE SWORD #3 had sold anything like #2, it would have disappeared from the charts. Instead, this $8 biannual(?) anthology increased its sales by a bit over 56%. That evidence contradicts, though certainly doesn’t disprove, the theory. Now, why Marc-Oliver Frisch immediately gravitated toward a theory that makes DC look bad instead of looking for evidence of what’s actually happening, who can say?

    Mike

  15. MBunge says:

    And it’s not a 56% increase. That’s my math fail. It’s actually a little over 77%.

    Hibbs, naturally, is right about the lagging indicator thing.

    Mike

  16. While the increase in sales on SAVAGE SWORD #3 is certainly interesting, it’s evidently not representative of the other books at the bottom end of the chart – see my earlier comment.

    Since it’s an eight dollar anthology that ships twice a year – making it unusual in both format and price point, and prone to sales fluctuations depending upon the contributors to any given issue – I wouldn’t really expect it to serve as a reliable indicator of wider trends, and it seems pointless to seize on it when other far more representative titles are available which DO demonstrate a common trend.

  17. MBunge says:

    I picked another book at random.

    In October 2011, SONIC UNIVERSE #33 sold 7,244 issues and came in at #258 on the charts.

    In September 2011, SONIC UNIVERSE #32 sold 7,027 issues and came in at #223.

    That would indicate that DC’s success might both be lifting all boats and shoving lower selling titles further down or off the charts.

    Mike

  18. That’s a good point. You could have both effects at once.

    But I think Marc and I were both principally addressing the claim made in the original post – that the increased sales of the number 300 comic are evidence of a “rising tide” effect. And that’s not really true, because of the DC reorders pushing other books down the chart, which was always going to mean a higher-selling title would end up at number 300.

  19. I think MBunge is biased against me. My elaborate seven-year scheme to become the most beloved man in comics has failed.

  20. BungeLove says:

    MOF for the win! :-()

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