Each month here at CBR I share with you the estimated sales numbers for comics and graphic novels distributed through Diamond Comics. Recently, there's been quite some discussion in a number of online venues about graphic novel sales trends thus far in 2007 and while preparing the sales estimates for July, 2007, I took a look at some of those trends and broke out the numbers for 2007 thus far and found some interesting results which I share below, but first some analysis of the year thus far.
At the end of each year, Diamond Comics Distributors releases a list of the best selling graphic novels and collected editions. They also release a list of the best selling comic books for the year, too, but trades are a lot more interesting to watch because of the longer sales cycle. Most comics sell the majority of their units upfront, while trades continue to sell monthly, as long as they are in print.
When I report on the top 100 graphic novels and collected editions sold for the month. I also include the total known estimated sales for those items. In July, the top selling item that had previously appeared on the monthly graphic novels and collected editions list was the "Marvel Zombies" hardcover. It sold an estimated 4,573 units in July to retailers, bringing the total known estimated sales to around 42,621 units. Before we move on to other numbers, there are a few important things to understand here.
First, we are dealing with estimates, meaning that number might not be the exact number of units sold to retailers. For our purposes, though, we are looking at sales trends and not paying royalties off these numbers, so it isn't a problem that the numbers might be off slightly.
The second thing I want to point out is that these are sales to retailers, not readers. While information about sales to readers would be very informative, that data will remain unavailable until retailers start sharing and reporting on that data.
Thirdly, it should be noted that this data is limited to sales going through Diamond. There is some debate as to how much of the overall sales this accounts for and even some debate on how much of the direct market sales this accounts for. While it might not measure everything, it does measure the sales through Diamond. I've looked into getting the BookScan data and it is well beyond my zero-budget for this little side hobby of mine, not to mention it's proprietary, can't be reported on publicly and isn't all inclusive either.
Getting back to those "Marvel Zombies" numbers, let's look at that second number of 42,621 units. That is the total known estimated sales for the "Marvel Zombies" hardcover. I'm a fairly simple guy and try to name things for what they are. The number I include in the data each month is the total of all of the data I have for the item.
Technically, the number isn't a life-to-date estimate of the sales through Diamond. The reason for this is that the data available from Diamond isn't inclusive enough for that. While Diamond reports on the top 100 graphic novels and collected editions currently, the list used to be only 50 items long. Prior to that it was 25 items and it started with only 10 items. The growth of the list over the years is a reflection of the growth of the graphic novel and collected editions market. And even with 100 items on the list each month, it isn't enough and many items go unreported.
In my monthly sales analysis I don't include year-to-date sales for graphic novels and collected editions, instead opting to include total known sales for a particular item, which can be wildly different. The main reason I don't include year-to-date numbers is it seems to be of limited use except at the end of the year. I'm not convinced that it is any more (or any less) useful than how many units the items sold over the past 12 months. I mean, does it really matter that the "Marvel Zombies" hardcover currently looks to be the third best selling graphic novel/collected edition of 2007? That isn't entirely a rhetorical question - if enough people would find a year-to-date total useful, I'd be happy to add it.
Either way, the "Marvel Zombies" hardcover has a year-to-date known total estimated sales of around 20,183 units based on the data up to and including July. It currently looks to be behind the "300" hardcover with a year-to-date known total estimated sales of 22,561 units in second place and the "Civil War" trade paperback with a year-to-date known total estimated sales of 35,544 units.
Obviously the year-to-date totals and ranking change each month. The "300" hardcover started the year with a year-to-date rank of 13. As interest is in the book grew with the release of "300," the book moved up in rank to number four in February and took the top slot in March. In May the release of the "Civil War" trade paperback bumped it from the top spot down to second place for the year where it has been ever since.
I mentioned in my analysis on the June 2007 numbers the information that can be deduced from the lowest ranked item on the list. This is the wildcard factor that can make the top trades list for the year a bit of a surprise sometimes. As of the end of July, the maximum number of units an unreported item could have totals to an estimated 7,933 units. That is only a few dozen units shy of the second best selling trade for July. Such an item would currently land just below slot 26 on the current year-to-date rankings.
Or so it seems. The tricky thing about the year-to-date figures is that the unreported numbers can really move things around. The difference between some items on the current year-to-date rankings is less than a dozen units, a number small enough that even a seemingly insignificant number of unreported units could reorder the list. A dozen units is also a small enough amount that just the margin of error on the monthly estimates alone could reorder some items on the list. This means that the rankings are rough estimates and may not be an accurate reflection of what Diamond would report. Just because something appears to be outselling another item doesn't mean that it really is.
So, what can we learn from the current year-to-date rankings for the graphic novels and collected editions for 2007?
Marvel dominates the rankings in 2007 thus far, doing very well with the "Civil War" TPB and the numerous trades collecting the tie-in series. Of the currently projected top 50 graphic novels and collected editions, nearly 40% of the list was "Civil War" or related material. Outside of "Civil War," Marvel had other strong sellers thus far in 2007 with the third "Astonishing X-Men" trade paperback and the second "Ultimates 2" trade paperback.
Dark Horse did well with "300" due to renewed interest generated by the movie.
Dynamite Entertainment's done well with their pick up of Ennis & Robertson's "The Boys" earlier this year, with almost 11,000 copies sold thus far for the May release.
Both "Marvel Zombies" and "The Walking Dead" zombies continue to be solid sellers that are unlikely to die any time soon. Volume 15 and 16 of the "Ultimate X-Men" trade paperbacks currently seem to be in slots 32 and 35 further illustrating the strength of Robert Kirkman's popularity.
Over at DC, the Vertigo imprint is doing well with titles like "Y: The Last Man" and "Fables," with classics like "Watchmen" still a reliable seller. The first Minx release,"Plain Janes" rounds out the Top 50. With regards to DCU product, only "52," "Batman: Year One," and the hard covers for "Justice" and "All Star Superman" make a showing in the Top 50. That said, their "Showcase" collected editions had a very strong showing in the bottom half of the Top 100 list.
As for market shares for this tentative top 100 year-to-date trades list, Marvel has 34.48% by units, DC is a reasonably close second with 27.51%, Dark Horse is coming in a very strong third with 11.41% Image is in fourth place with 5.83%.
With five months of data still left to be digested, these lists could change dramatically by years end - we'll just have to wait and see what develops.
|Digital Manga Distribution||19,328||1.04%|
|A D Vision||10,120||0.54%|
|Archaia Studios Press||7,601||0.41%|
|Devil's Due Publishing||4,935||0.27%|
|Seven Seas Entertainment||3,488||0.19%|
|Silent Devil Productions||1,344||0.07%|
|Slave Labor Graphics||1,089||0.06%|