John Jackson Miller has a pretty fascinating analysis of the Top 300′s long tail — complete with charts! (How does he DO it?) With March 2009 presenting, for the first time in a long time, the top selling comic coming in at under 100K, he makes comparisons to March 2003 and March 2006. The main finding is in the lower 150, where, as many have noted, the average sales ranking is up. But it’s mostly because Marvel and DC publish so many more titles now:
So what’s going on? The arc of 2003 slope has been flattened — with sales from the top of the list and the upper midlist pushing down toward the lower portion, and making sales on the whole list more evenly distributed. There’s a simple reason: Look again at the table for March 2003. The 200s are populated by familiar names like Archie and Antarctic, but also smaller publishers like Gutsoon and Aerosol. Marvel is pretty much not to be found there: it had 57 entries in the Top 300, and only 1 item in the 201st-300th place range. In March 2009, it had 99 entries on the list — and 22 in the bottom third of the chart. Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, and CrossGen (the top five) combined for 215 slots in March 2003; 237 in March 2009 (with IDW in place of CrossGen).
Dollars are up in general, however, he notes.