Miller: October comics sales set record

John Jackson Miller’s October 2008 sales estimates are up, but what’s really notable, he writes, is that October was a huge month for dollars.

The October 2008 comics sales estimates are online at The Comics Chronicles, and it turned out to be a record-setting month in a number of categories.

The Top 300 Comics Dollar sales were the highest they’ve been since the beginning of the Diamond Exclusive era, in April 1997. Likewise, the Top 300 Comics Plus Top 100 Trade Paperbacks (although only the Top 25 and then the Top 50 trades were reported up until a few years ago). The Overall Comics, Trade Paperback, and Magazine sales figure also set the highest mark since that category became trackable in 2003.

And the average cost and average weighted cost of new comics in the Diamond Top 300 is higher than at any time in the Diamond era, and almost certainly in the history of comics. The average cost of all comics in the Top 300 was $3.38 — and the weighted average, total dollars divided by total units, was $3.31. The Top 25 comics had an average price of $3.39, so the top of the list was particularly pricey.


Obviously, rising comics prices had much to do with it, but as we pointed out earlier, and Miller affirms, the overall sales on the chart were much higher than in the past, with even the #300 book selling over 4000 copies. In January 2005, the #300 comic sold 679 copies. (Emphasis mine.)

What does this mean in light of all the recession gloom and doom? We’re not quite sure. Momentum has a lot to do with it, but it does seem that a more diversified base of readers will help smooth out the transition when Marvel and DC inevitably raise their cover prices in the next year.

Comments

  1. Mark Coale says:

    It seems to me that October sales were based on orders made in August. I’ll be more interested to see December/January numbers based on orders made in October/November.

  2. Perhaps, even at $3.99 a copy, comics are still considered cheap entertainment? I mean, just how many times will you play that Xbox video game?

  3. I’ll be adding a pricing section to the main site soon, but temporarily I have the Diamond-era pricing track here:

    http://blog.comichron.com/2008/11/average-retail-prices-for-comic-books.html

    I agree with Mark that many of the orders were placed in August — although with the changes to the order-cutoff model, it’s hard to say how much came from August. If, say, distress in later weeks caused a slackening in late orders, that’d require the initial orders to have been stronger still to give us the figures we’ve got. It’s possible, but that would be a bigger jump from where things were this summer.

  4. Joenfuture says:

    Miller: October comics sales set record

    >>

    This doesn’t line up with what I’m hearing (from people who handle ordering at large stores).

  5. These are, in all categories, comics ordered, not sold — but there are several factors that could be at work this month in particular. It is the case that a number of high-profile books slated for September shipping pushed into October. It was also a five-week month, which means we capture more late books (though 2007 was also a five-ship week October).

    When sales increases are mostly at the wider macro levels, as they are this year, they could be practically invisible just looking at the shelf. A flat year overall, as 2008 is beginning to look (just $6 million more in orders this year over the first 10 months), finds the same dollars spread across more items — since the number of backlist items increases every year. And this year, we’re seeing the number of comics offered going up, too.

    When we had the years when we were up overall around 8% or 10%, we were seeing unit sales increases, too. I tend to think we need to get into that range or higher before the overall picture and the more local pictures start to square up.

  6. “These are, in all categories, comics ordered, not sold”

    I’d probably state that as “These are, in all categories, comics SHIPPED, not sold” if only because books that shipped in weeks #1 & 2 (at least) are also showing reorder velocity in tandem with initials, which is (maybe) a stronger indicator of “sales” (or maybe not)

    I’m splitting hairs, I know!

    Also: these are all, of course, “sold”… just not necessarily to CONSUMERS…

    -B

  7. You’re probably right — but “October sets comics shipped record” sounds pretty odd. :-)

Speak Your Mind

*