Publishing | Direct-market sales plummeted last month, down nearly 23 percent in units and more than 20 percent in dollars from January 2010. Marvel’s heavily promoted Fantastic Four #587 was, unsurprisingly, the top-selling comic, while Vertigo’s Jack of Fables, Vol. 8, led the graphic novel list. Retailer news and analysis site ICv2.com puts part of the blame for the year-over-year decline on the weather. However, John Jackson Miller notes that Diamond Comic Distributors shipped 23 percent fewer comics last month — 555 different comics and trades (including variants), compared to 683 in January 2010. “This is more than can be explained by the holiday difference; this would appear to simply be the old pattern of publishers holding fire at this time of year and releasing fewer items,” Miller writes. “Some years, that effect is more in evidence than others; this could potentially be one of the bigger years for this kind of positioning.” [ICv2.com, The Comichron]
Digital piracy | A Japanese government think tank has released a study that concludes online piracy of anime series actually increases sales of DVDs. “One point of critique based on the main conclusions of the study, is that the observed relation only appears to be correlational,” TorrentFreak cautions. “This may mean that the results could in part be influenced by significant third variables such as promotion and overall popularity. Since the report is only available in Japanese we were unable to confirm whether this was taken into account.” [TorrentFreak]
Publishing | The latest volume of Eiichiro Oda’s wildly popular comedy-adventure One Piece has set yet another record in Japan: Publisher Shueisha said the first printing of Vol. 61 will be 3.8 million copies, breaking the record of 3.4 million copies set by the previous volume. [Anime News Network]
Digital comics | ComiXology CEO David Steinberger discusses his company’s banner year, its biggest disappointments, and the digital marketplace: “We don’t see a need to capture the traditional audience away from comic shops. We’ve done a few internal reports and sales from our retailer partners is a sliver of a percent of our sales, so I don’t think they need to fear us at all. ” [ABC Technology and Games]
Publishing | Gavin Sheehan interviews Dark Horse President Mike Richardson about the evolution of the company, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. [City Weekly]
Publishing | Susan Michals profiles German publisher Benedikt Taschen, whose book empire began with a small comic store in Cologne. [The Wall Street Journal]
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