John Jackson Miller does his usual insightful number crunching with February’s sale numbers:
…the February 2008 Top 300 as a group…sold 1.22 million more copies than the February 2001 grouping, an increase of 24%. Why? Mid-list strength. The 5,000-copy mark was at 191st place in February 2001; today, it’s at 226th place. The major publishers are simply offering more titles now than they were then. Last month, DC had 88 offerings in the Top 300, and Marvel had 83. Back in February 2001, DC had 73 — and Marvel had 42!
The major publishers’ slates were actually smaller in February 2008 than they had been in recent months — the top five publishers placed 232 comics in the Top 300, versus 246 in January. The result was that 32 publishers made the Top 300, a larger number than in a while. One new publisher made the list for the first time: the numerically named Th3rdworld, whose Space Doubles #1 came in 300th place.
This is just a tiny TASTE of the analysis Miller offers. For instance, he even looks at a 20-year comparison in sales:
While overall sales projections for individual months of 1988 remain even further off — though there is data, which remains to be crunched — some facts are known about individual issues. With multiple distributors and few reporting sales, determining the top comic book from sales charts is not straightforward, but the top comic book for February 1988 was likely Uncanny X-Men #231.
Marvel sold 260,800 copies of the issue to direct market distributors. Initial orders from Capital City Distribution are known to have been 67,200 copies, or 25.8% of the total direct market orders. The direct market accounted for 64% of Marvel’s sales of the issue, which had final newsstand sales of 99,800 copies of the issue and 48,900 copies in subscription, foreign, and other special markets sales. The total sales for the issue, 409,500 copies, was very close to the average of 408,925 copies Marvel reported to the Postal Service for all Uncanny X-Men issues in 1988. Average print runs for the title for the year were 633,760 copies, suggesting that wastage for Uncanny X-Men #231 in the newsstand market was on the order of 69%. Marvel printed approximately three copies to sell one.
More charts and graphs we can barely understand in the link.