The final comics sales estimates for December are out from Diamond Comic Distributors, and as reported here on Friday, the Direct Market closed out the year up 9%. Click to see the sales estimates for comics ordered in December 2013.
Origin II #1
was the top-selling comic book of the month; at 131,700 copies, it
almost exactly matches first-month sales of Origin #2 from 2001. Not one
of the bigger blockbusters for the year, it’ll likely still make the
Top 300 for the 21st Century list.
December is always a
hard month to compare across time because of the variable shipping
schedules caused by the holidays. This December, for example, had only
four Wednesdays—but five New Comics Days, because retailers were given a Tuesday release date for the New Year’s Eve shipment. On the other hand, the Christmas Eve shipment was tiny (including only Origins II #1, a book of mine, and 11 other items), so it works out to four weeks of new release volume. Given
some retailers’ holiday schedules and UPS’s problems at the end of the
year, it’s probably a four-week month for sales purposes, too.
else was noteworthy. The Top 300 Graphic Novels category vaulted
over the $10 million mark — it had never topped $9 million before — but
the result should not be taken at face value. Or, rather, at full retail
value. There was a lot of holiday-season (or end-of-fiscal-year
clearance) graphic novel discounting going on this month: more than $3
million in sales came from older Omnibus hardcovers from Marvel which
were steeply discounted. We can see this because while Diamond’s charts
are ranked by units sold, and not dollars, it does offer dollar-ranking
information — but both its dollar rankings and its market shares are
based on wholesale dollars.
So, for example, we see that a newer $30 book, Deadpool Classic Vol. 9, brought in almost as many dollars to Diamond as the $100 Ultimate Spider-Man Omnibus Vol. 1 from last year: they were 15th and 16th respectively in Diamond’s dollar rankings.
But retailers ordered 17% more copies of the Ultimate Spider-Man Omnibus. So the Omnibus
had to be selling for less than a third of what Diamond normally would
have sold the book to retailers for. Thus, while the topline figure for
graphic novel sales was way, way up — up 67% over last December, within
just the Top 300 — the real figure was an increase of 18%.
written about this several times in the past: there’s not really
anything to do about it, as running rankings based on wholesale dollars
would tend to be confusing — and the central purpose of this site is
reporting how many copies entered into the Direct Market. It’s true that
$10 million in Top 300 graphic novels by cover price were
ordered by retailers in December: if they sold them all at full retail,
the sum would still reflect what the industry made. In any event, take
the category with a grain of salt this month.
Records set during the month:
• Highest dollar volume for Top 300 Trade Paperbacks in a single month: $10.51 million; overstated by the means described above.
• Highest dollar volume for comics and graphic novels ordered in a quarter: $134.79 million, beating the record set last quarter.
• Highest dollar market share for IDW: 8.18%
the combined market shares of IDW, Image, and Dark Horse are higher
than has been seen for the 3-4-5 publishers since 2003. Click to see
other Diamond-era records.
The aggregate changes, which give us our end-of-year figures:
December 2013: 6.6 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: -5%
Versus 5 years ago this month: -14%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +4%
Versus 15 years ago this month: -9%
Q4 2013: 20.98 million copies, -3% vs. Q4 2012
2013 YEAR END: 84.51 million copies, +5% vs. 2012, +4% vs. 2008, +16% vs. 2003, unchanged vs. 1998
ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
December 2013 versus one year ago this month: -3.64%
Q4 2012 versus Q4 2012: -0.97%
2013 YEAR END: +6.7%
December 2013: $24.55 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -1%
Versus 5 years ago this month: -3%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +36%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +32%
Q4 2013: $78.19 million, +8% vs. Q4 2012
2013 YEAR END: $308.71 million, +8% vs. 2012, +17% vs. 2008, +49% vs. 2003, +47% vs. 1998
ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
December 2013 versus one year ago this month: +1.09%
Q4 2013 versus Q4 2012: +4.16%
2013 YEAR END: +10.22%
December 2013: $10.51 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +67%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +57%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 50 vs. the Top 50: +66%
Versus 15 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +128%
Q4 2013: $26.22 million, +19% vs. Q4 2012
2013 YEAR END: $93.91 million, +11% vs. 2012
ALL TRADE PAPERBACK SALES
December 2013 versus one year ago this month: +18.02%
Q4 2013 versus Q4 2012: +7.8%
YEAR TO DATE: +6.5%
December 2013: $35.06 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +13%
Versus 5 years ago this month: -3%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 50 TPBs: +31%
Versus 15 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +45%
Q4 2013: $104.4 million, +4% vs. Q4 2012
2013 YEAR END: $402.31 million, +9% vs. 2012
ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK SALES
December 2013 versus one year ago this month: +5.93%
Q4 2013 versus Q4 2012: +5.28%
2013 YEAR END: +9.04%
December 2013: approximately $42.22 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +6%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +6%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +47%
Q4 2013: $134.79 million, +5% vs. 2012
2013 YEAR END: $517.66 million, +9% vs. 2013
New comic books released: 471
New graphic novels released: 239
New magazines released: 29
All new releases: 739
The average comic book in the Top 300 cost $3.66; the average comic book
retailers ordered cost $3.72. The median and most common price for comics offered was $3.99. Click to see comics prices across time.
The release of December data allows the end-of year estimates to be made: those will be up shortly. (Update: Click to see the Top 1,000 Comics and Top 1,000 Graphic Novels for 2013.)
Comichron founder John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 25 years, including a decade editing the industry’s retail trade magazine; he is the author of several guides to comics, as well as more than a hundred comic books for various franchises.
He is the author of novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Star Wars: A New Dawn, Star Trek: Discovery – The Enterprise War, and his latest release, Star Trek: Discovery – Die Standing. Read more about them at his fiction site.
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