July charts: Sales look wobbly

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x men 1 2010 July charts: Sales look wobbly

ICv2 posted their sales for July yesterday, but bucking a recent trend, periodical sales were down while GN sales were up a bit, mostly because so many Scott Pilgrim books were sold. Nut graph: “The over-all picture was one of weakness, however, as the increase in graphic novel sales was insufficient to outweigh weak comic sales; over-all sales were down 9% in July.”

Links:

Dollar Trends

Top 300 Comics Actual–July 2010

Top 300 Graphic Novels Actual–July 2010.

Only one comic, the new X-men relaunch by Victor Gischler and Paco Medina, broke six figures in sales, as the top 20 shows:

140,332 X-Men #1

94,684 Brightest Day #6

88,020 Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne #4

87,410 Avengers #3

85,804 Batman and Robin #13

84,164 Green Lantern #56

83,397 New Avengers #2

77,796 Brightest Day #5

76,398 Batman #701

72,293 Secret Avengers #3

68,271 Amazing Spider-Man #238

67,035 Green Lantern Corps #50

66,723 Uncanny X-Men #526

65,863 X-Men Second Coming #2

64,832 Flash #4

61,827 Batman Odyssey #1

61,680 X-Force #28

60,368 Justice League of America #47

56,031 Amazing Spider-Man #637

56,011 Amazing Spider-Man #636

54,911 Shadowland #1

54,506 Superman #701

53,373 Thor #612

53,313 X-Men Legacy #238

Is this the price increase finally coming home to roost? The effect of event-driven sales and marketing? The aging audience? PICK YOUR POISON. ICV2 notes — and we do too — that Marvel’s Shadowland event debuted to modest numbers — maybe Daredevil is not strong enough for his own event?

Over in the book charts, Scott Pilgrim and BLACKEST NIGHT drove tons of sales, showing that top creators on stories they want to tell still attract readers. Maybe.

Comments

  1. Jeffy says:

    I mean, yeah, these sales are horrible. But did anyone think that a Daredevil event would do that well? DD has always been, barring Kevin Smith’s run, a mid-lister at best in terms of sales. I think the more worrying thing is how low the bar is set for the top ten books. It was only a few years ago when cracking the top ten also meant cracking 100k. Hopefully these numbers mean that the audience is embracing digital distribution and trade-waiting, not just abandoning comics entirely.

  2. “Is this the price increase finally coming home to roost?”

    Most definitely. That, and the frenetic “damn the torpedos” mentality of the Big Two flooding the market with spin-off titles (most…or maybe ALL of which are priced at $3.99), making the prospect of keeping up with a particular character or team well beyond the financial commitment of most fans.

  3. Brett says:

    I don’t think price is as much of a deterent as people think. While 3.99 is a pretty wacky price to pay for a comic, what makes it worse is the low to no quality for what a reader is getting.

    And what Mark said is absolutely correct. The big two are literally flooding the market with spin-offs that serve more of a turn off than a spin.

    If companies want to increase sales and readers, they should start by publishing stories that make sense to more than just the fans working up in the offices of the big two.

  4. thequestion says:

    too many 3.99 books. too much redudancy (with marvel in particular.) though talent wise their talent pool is wider and deeper, they’re being wasted on too many iterations of the avengers/deadpool/and now thor. They are playing it way too safe and now they’re starting to pay the price. Marvel needs to spread their talent out to the fringe books. How great would it be to see top talent on books like Shang Chi, Moon Knight, Kazar, etc?

  5. Wait, are those Brightest Day number right? Issue #6 picked up an additional 17K readers from issue #5?

    Whoa. That’s like a 20% increase from the prior issue.

  6. Anonymous says:

    am i the only one that got slightly depressed seeing Girl Comics and Tarot ranked back to back?

  7. Batlash says:

    And trade-waiting has become trade-waiting and waiting and waiting. I can’t tell you how many things I haven’t bought yet because instead of going to tpb they’re going to hardcovers first and the time between hardcover and finally reaching tpb seems to be growing longer and longer.

  8. Or people who normally buy comics books/pamphlets decided to buy Scott Pilgrim books instead. Outside of X-men, was there anything new and exciting with a big marketing push?

    Also, it’s the summer. Stores who have a large number of students as customers cut their orders as they know they are out of town.

  9. I’ve cut back because of the price increase. It wasn’t a conscious desicion– I just realized one day I was only buying one comic a month. I used to buy 5-6. 4$ just feels like too much to pay for a comic that is only a fraction of an entire story and takes 3 minutes to read.

  10. I hardly ever buy comic book single issues anymore since the price went up to $4 a year ago. Occasionally I’ll pick up a Vertigo or independent issue I’m interested in. Pretty much everything I buy is a collection or a graphic novel from Amazon. And again, most of those are Vertigo or independent.

    Marvel and DC don’t publish very many stories that are interesting to me anymore. And the ones that I might pick up are too expensive.

    You can see why Marvel especially raised their prices to $4. We’re in a recession and they wanted to maximize profits to weather the storm. But now we’re hitting a point where they’re making less with $4 comics than they would if they sold $3 simply because the number of readers have dropped off.

    Remember a few years ago when every book in the top 10 each month sold over 100K units?

    Also, the quality of storytelling has dropped off dramatically. Right now it seems like Marvel’s best-selling concept is X-Men + vampires. And it looks about as stupid as it sounds.

  11. Dara: I think the first few issues of BRIGHTEST DAY were partially returnable, and Diamond reduces the reported sales of returnable comics some amount to account for that. I don’t think they’ve ever said what that reduction is (or if it’s even consistent from book to book), but I’ve heard the figure 20% thrown about, which would track pretty well with the BRIGHTEST DAY numbers, putting the actual number shipped for #5 slightly above #6 (and makes me think that they’re excessively overcompensating for the returnability).

  12. Micah says:

    A $4 cover price is too expensive to try out an unproven product. So I wait for the reviews to come in. Then, as most of the titles are weeded out, I go back to get the book. It is sold out, so I decide to wait for the trade. More reviews come out, and the books quality doesn’t hold up. More titles get weeded out. Then I realize that the collected editions are 40% off from Amazon, so I stop ordering from my LCS. My pull list is half of what it was 2 years ago, and on its way to being halved again. I’m on my way out.

  13. I stopped going to my LCS entirely in the spring of ’09 and now get everything exclusively through the online discount services. Sure, I only get comics once a month, but after kicking the weekly habit, I’ve been getting back into more “real” book reading and catching up on some great stuff I’ve been wanting to read for some time….which, in turn, continues to “wean” me off the event-driven (and increasingly spendy) hysteria of the Big Two.

  14. I’d say it’s less Daredevil being strong enough for his own event and more that this event was just rushed out in a swarm of other events. I mean, I’m a guy who used to keep up with all of the big Marvel events (the number of Civil War spinoffs I bought was just…sickening), but here’s Shadowland, this book with an iffy premise (I’m still not even sure what it is…DD as a bad guy, I guess?). The build-up and advance PR was drowned out by the not one, but THREE other crossovers (Siege, War of the Hulks, X-Men: Second Coming) that just ended, and its release was drowned out by the relaunches that came out of that (X-Men, the 4 new Avengers books). It’s no wonder it’s not selling better.

  15. Five of the top ten are $2.99. Eight of the top twenty.

    And the Smurfs charted with a $1 comic, at #182. (Come ON! How hard is it to sell a Smurfs comic? For ONE. DOLLAR.)

  16. lots of books i would love to try and sample. the four buck price tag of many books is making this impossible and i’m starting to drop books left and right as a direct result of the high prices for a comic book. the big two better come up with a new format that’s affordable for the “paper” market or their gonna price themselves right out of existence (or more than likely onto the internet , giving up weekly books for good). the ‘shadowland’ event i can wait for till it comes out in hard cover. good stories and bad stories come and go, but an empty wallet seems like forever.

  17. Dennis V. says:

    “And the Smurfs charted with a $1 comic, at #182. (Come ON! How hard is it to sell a Smurfs comic? For ONE. DOLLAR.)”

    Actually harder than you’d think. I my LCS ordered 5 and today they have 4 sitting on the shelf (yeah, I was the only one to buy it!).

  18. One thing not mentioned so far by anybody is how the top ten of Diamond’s sales charts have been artificially inflated for the past couple of years by variant editions. I wonder, in a time of flooding the market with so many similar titles; increasing some of their prices; and being in the middle of a recession has meant that the sales of variants have decreased.

    I also find it interesting that the mid-sales titles are the ones that seem to be holding a most consistent position, but do wonder what the actual readership of comics is now. 150,000? 100,000?

    It’s lower than we previously thought, I’d imagine.

  19. I know I am either trade waiting or just plain ignoring almost all 3.99 books.

  20. I’m SO done with a $3.99 comic. I’ve stopped that practice completely. Instead I wait for the collected edition… usually in the form of a hardcover but I’m totally cool with that. I guess the truth is, how I read comics has changed. I’d rather a large chunk of story in a format that looks good on my bookshelf.

  21. brandon says:

    The tenth best selling comic year over year (units, title, price):

    July 2001 10 76,800 ELEKTRA #1 $3.50
    July 2002 10 92,459 ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #24 $2.25
    July 2003 10 93,546 UNCANNY X-MEN #428 $2.25
    July 2004 10 92,923 ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #9
    $2.25
    July 2005 10 91,125 UNCANNY X-MEN #462 $2.50
    July 2006 10 105,220 WOLVERINE #44 CW $2.99
    July 2007 10 105,715 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #542
    $2.99
    July 2008 10 82,031 BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #16 $2.99
    July 2009 10 86,748 ULTIMATUM #5 (OF 5) $3.99
    July 2010 10 72,293 SECRET AVENGERS #3 $3.99

    So while a few years 100k barely got into the top 10, 10 years ago the same number as the 2010 number 10 landed you in the same spot. Flat growth across two recessions (while still in one of them) probably isnt going to make the big two rethink their pricing strategy.

    The numbers are even more stable at #25, #50 and #100. I’m not so sure the sky is falling here.

  22. thequestion says:

    Even for the trade waiters, the prices of the hardcover collections have gone up as well. did you see the recent solicitations? 4-5 books collected for somewhere between 19.99-24.99 is ridiculous.

  23. The funniest number in the list is for Superman 701…the big launch of Superman’s boring walk across America by JMS. So much for the new direction bump. Can’t even break the 55K mark in preorders and it’s only downhill from there. Another brilliant idea and waste of the fan’s time and money by DC’s editorial group. No way that story line will last the planned 12 issues.

  24. I am a trade book waiter…as are most of the people I know…its where everything is heading.

  25. Dave Hackett says:

    @Brandon, It gets more interesting if you go look a the bottom of the list. the #300 book ten years ago was just over 1,000 units. These days, the #300 book rarely moves below 3,500. That’s where the strength of the charts lie.

    Granted, a lot of this is DC and Marvel’s plethora of titles moving the little guys off the chart, so it may not be as “healthy” as it seems.

  26. Dave Elliott says:

    Why is it such a surprise that everybody is waiting for the trades these days? If the material is written and produced for a trade it should sell as a trade.

    Any one have numbers on recent digital sales? Are they too low for bragging?

  27. @Carey: “…but do wonder what the actual readership of comics is now. 150,000? 100,000?

    At the digital comics panel at ComicCon this year, the panel moderator (can’t remember his name, but he’s a marketing director at Boom! Studios) said that they had done a lot of research and placed the direct market readership/audience at 300,000 people.

    So 0.1% of the population.

  28. brandon says:

    @Dave

    You are certainly correct on all points.

    I do think IDW and Dark Horse have managed to carve out a niche audience during the last 10 years though. Though Image seems to be making its bread through Kirkman books, particularly the trades that show up on the list month after month. The other two have a core group of titles and fans that I think make them long term players.

    Comic books arent nearly as bad off as other print media like newspapers and magazines that have seen circulation drop off 90% during the same time. Even printed music has seen a freefall over the same 10 year stretch.

  29. Chris Hero says:

    Huh, that direct market readership number is only 30k less than Millar and Jemas cited on a Trouble conference call 10 years ago. So, it only shrank by 10%.

  30. I just read Superman #701, and found it to be an excellent story, possibly one of the best Superman stories ever. I look forward to the rest of this series.

    “Waldo, the question is what are you doing out there?”

    If DC marketing is savvy, they will do an author tour across the country, stopping in each city for an event.

    What’s worth $3.99? Perhaps the Spirit, with the black-and-white back-up stories. (Ellison! O’Neil! Wolfman! Baker! Uslan! Lapham! Azzarello! Strnad! Simonson! Sienkiewicz! Bernet!)

    Personally, I would love to see the $3.99 books have done-in-one back-up features which allow creators to do simple stories set outside continuity. Or simple character spotlights.

  31. Christopher says:

    It was only a few years ago that I got back into purchasing monthly comics thanks to Infinite Crisis but already I am finished going to my LCS every week. The $3.99 price point is a wallet killer, as are the endless spin-offs. The only titles I am buying now are Criminal and Incognito, neither of which come out on a regular basis but both of which are worth money in terms of story, art, and added features not found in the trades. That’s how you sell a single issue.

    I also agree that $20+ for a five issue collection (remember when they were 6-10 issues?) is also too expensive. As a result, I am relying on my library ILL service and only buying the stuff I know I really want to keep and re-read. Libraries are a comic nerds best friend.

  32. Steve Maser says:

    Agreed about Libraries and their “graphic novel” sections. That’s an excellent way to (eventually) read trades for things you passed by because they were $3.99.

    The problem I personally have with “trade waiting” is that it becomes “trade forgetting”. There are a handful of books I only get via the trades. If I moved everything to trades, I’d probably just stop collecting all together. A single mini-series? Sure. Trades for a *continuing series*? Forget it.

    As an example, I tried reading the trades (via the Library system) for the “Superman: New Krypton” storyline. Too much time went by between volumes that I both (A) forgot what happened in previous volumes and (B) eventually lost interest.

    But maybe that’s just me…

  33. here’s an idea to monetize your single issues to spread your costs: don’t put out 4 dollar pamphlets: do them as digital downloads.
    Sell teaser books with a scratch download code in it via the LCS; like you do with itunes cards. For single issues, for a family of books, or crossovers

    After that you can put out graphic novels that are in effect tradepaperback original printings of digital single issues, but only if the talent costs are recouped via digital downloads (which would be faster because you eliminate the printing and distribution cast from the equation.

  34. Okay, not to interrupt the feeding frenzy, but a couple of points:

    – If more people are waiting for the collected editions, then naturally single-issue sales are going to drop a bit. Presumably that’s made up in sales of hardcovers and softcovers of the same material. Aside from making the charts look a little soft, exactly who is this bad for and why? The publishers still sell the books, one way or another, and the readers get to buy them in their preferred format.

    – Individual readers drift in and out of comics all the time. It’s been happening since Usenet and long before. It’s not necessarily indicative of any trends.

  35. Synsidar says:

    Aside from making the charts look a little soft, exactly who is this bad for and why? The publishers still sell the books, one way or another, and the readers get to buy them in their preferred format.

    It’s probably bad for comics shops, which are the only sources for monthly comics. People who buy the collections might (should) look for the best prices, which probably won’t be offered by the comics shops. The publishers sell comics either way, but their cash flows are based on sales of monthly comics. If they were dependent on sales of collections and OGNs, they’d face the same cash flow problems that book publishers have.

    SRS

  36. I have a feeling I’m simply too old school, because single issues are the way to go for me. I just couldn’t imagine moving to trades only. In fact, I barely ever buy them (excluding the RARE occasional archive, etc.)

    I did find this just crazy though (Marvel November solicits):

    SPIDER-MAN: ONE MOMENT IN TIME
 PREMIERE HC RIVERA COVER
    Collecting AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #638-641 – $24.99

    How are they justifying this (since they still sorta haven’t really but a little eh, whatever justified the $3.99 raise except for Marvel to say “we wanna see how much we can charge before people’s heads explode”) because those $3.99 issues are now $6.25. (Or, that’s some expensive cardboard.) So all those people saying Marvel (and sorta DC) are trying to kill single issues and go to trades, well that just killed that idea.

  37. Samy Merchi says:

    Well, isn’t a hardcover supposed to come at a premium?

    Single issue prices should be compared against the price of the eventual softcover. I imagine OMIT TPB will probably be something like $16, in line with four issues at $4. And the hardcover premium has always been somewhere around $5-10 on top of the TPB.

  38. Non Marvel/DC sales charts here
    http://www.renderwrx.net/comicsales.htm

  39. Aussiesmurf says:

    I buy several $3.99 titles, but only ones where I can be fairly sure of the quality :

    Bendis / Romita Jr – Avengers
    Brubaker / Deodato – Secret Avengers.

    But I used to fanatically buy pretty much every Spidey title out there – Amazing, Sensational, Spectacular, Ultimate, every spin-off mini, the whole bit.

    Now with Amazing moving permanently to $3.99 (admittedly with extra content), Ultimate being $3.99 for 22 pages and every spin-off mini being $3.99, only Amazing remains on my pull list. Assuming 3 x Amazing issue per month, that means that instead of around 6-8 spidey purchases in every month, I’m down to 3.

    I’m certainly re-discovering some of the smaller publishers. Minis like Turf are fantastic, and provide huge value.

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