September 2014 comics sales estimates online; best quarter since mid-1990s

http://www.mycomicshop.com/search?q=death+of+wolverine+1&pubid=&PubRng=?AffID=874007P01

The final comics sales estimates for September 2014 are out from Diamond Comic Distributors,
and as reported here on Friday, it was a good one, with orders of
comics and graphic novels by comics shops in North America topping $50
million for the second time in three months — and just the third time in
the last decade and a half. The result was the best quarter in dollar
terms (not adjusted for inflation) in the 17 years that Diamond has been
the exclusive distributor for all the major publishers. At $145.56
million, it topped the previous record, set in the fourth quarter of
last year, by nearly $10 million. Click to see the sales estimates for
comics ordered in September 2014.

The Death of Wolverine #1
was the top-selling title with orders approaching 262,000 copies, but
the bigger story was DC and its Futures End event. The lenticular covers
and the standard versions combined to give DC 115 entries in the Top
300 comics list. All those high-volume entries combined to push many
publishers out of the Top 300 entirely; only nine publishers put more
than one title onto the list.

That doesn’t mean those
publishers didn’t have successful releases, however: with the
300th-place title getting orders of more than 6,300 copies — nearly but
not quite a record for a four-week month — that left a lot of volume outside the charts. Archie
was the 401st place title with 3,651 copies sold, for example; last
September’s 400th-place book had orders of 2,621, nearly a thousand
fewer copies. It’s why the Top 300 comics unit sales could be down 3%
while overall comics unit sales were basically flat. The additional
“Future’s End” entries had the effect of making the “long tail” that
much longer.

It’s of interest to look at comic unit sales performance across Septembers across five-year intervals, to see a glimpse of comics performance where cover price inflation is not in play:

COMICS SHOP ORDERS OF TOP 300 COMICS
September 1999: 7.06 million copies
September 2004: 7.01 million copies
September 2009: 7.05 million copies
September 2014: 7.89 million copies

So there has been significant recent growth there, with increases of 12-13%. Of course, the choice of years for selection introduces some distortion: 1999 and 2009 weren’t good years, while 2004 was part of a recovery from a deep hole. But it’s of interest, too, to see where the volume has moved:

ORDERS FOR 300th PLACE COMIC BOOK
September 1999: 2,363 copies
September 2004: 1,681 copies
September 2009: 4,095 copies
September 2014: 6,306 copies

This implies that 2014 unit sales are actually significantly larger than those earlier years, on the basis of volume not captured by the charts. The bench has simply grown stronger relative to what it was in the past: the smaller publishers are releasing more titles, and to more comparative success.

RECORDS: A couple of Diamond Exclusive-era records were
set in the month. In addition to the highest dollar value for comics,
graphic novel, and magazine orders in a single quarter, September saw
the highest dollar value for orders for the Top 300 comics, at $31.18 million.

We nearly saw a record with the highest
weighted average price for comic books ordered by retailers within the
Top 300 — $3.95, a nickel short of April’s $4 mark. Here we find the
influence of high prices for the better-selling titles: the Top 25
comics had an average cover price of $4.15.

And the
22.37 million copies ordered of Top 300 comics in the third quarter is
the most in a quarter since the fourth quarter of 1997.

The aggregate changes:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES

September 2014: 7.89 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: -3%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +12%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +13%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +12%
Q3 2014: 22.37 million copies, +2% vs. Q3 2013
YEAR TO DATE: 60.76 million copies, -4% vs. 2013, +8% vs. 2009, +9% vs. 2004, +4 vs. 1999

ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
September 2014 versus one year ago this month: -0.12%
Q3 2014 vs. Q3 2013: +6.15%
YEAR TO DATE: -2.04%

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES

September 2014: $31.18 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +4%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +27%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +56%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +69%
Q3 2014: $85.67 million copies, +7% vs. Q3 2013
YEAR TO DATE: $230.44 million, unchanged vs. 2013, +20% vs. 2009, +45% vs. 2004, +53% vs. 1999

ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
September 2014 versus one year ago this month: +4.58%
Q3 2014 vs. Q3 2013: +10.3%
YEAR TO DATE:
+2.69%

TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES

September 2014: $7.39 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -2%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +3%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: +37%
Versus 15 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +78%
Q3 2014: $22.29 million copies, +4% vs. Q3 2013
YEAR TO DATE: $64.69 million, -4% vs. 2013

ALL TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
September 2014 versus one year ago this month: +8.49%
Q3 2014 vs. Q3 2013: +7.04%
YEAR TO DATE: +4.33%

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES

September 2014: $38.57 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +3%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +13%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: +43%
Versus 15 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +81%
Q3 2014: 107.94 million copies, +7% vs. Q3 2013
YEAR TO DATE: $295.12 million, -1% vs. 2013

ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
September 2014 versus one year ago this month: +5.64%
Q3 2014 vs. Q3 2013: +9.33%
YEAR TO DATE: +3.19%

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)

September 2014: approximately $50.78 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +6% Versus 5 years ago this month: +24%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +65%
Q3 2014: $145.56 million copies, +9% vs. Q3 2013
YEAR TO DATE: $395.1 million, +3% vs. 2013

RELEASES
New comic books released: 484
New graphic novels released: 265
New magazines released: 13
All new releases: 762

As noted above, the average comic book in the Top 300 cost $3.77; the average comic book
retailers ordered cost $3.95. The median and most common price for comics offered was $3.99. Click to see comics prices across time.

That’s
it for September’s report. I’ll be at New York Comic-Con later this
week, signing at the Random House/Del Rey booth. And wherever you are, be sure to visit your local comic
shop here.
 

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