In a new joint estimate by Comichron‘s John Jackson Miller and ICv2‘s Milton Griepp, total comics and graphic novel sales to consumers in the U.S. and Canada were approximately $1.21 billion in 2019, an 11% increase over sales in 2018. The increase was due to continued rapid gains in graphic novel sales in the book channel and single-digit growth in sales of periodical comics in comic stores.
One would need to go back to the early 1990s and adjust for inflation to find a similar amount according to the news release.
Sales of kids graphic novels in the book channel, which includes chain bookstores, mass merchants, major online retailers, and Scholastic Book Fairs were once again driving the format. Digital sales were back to 2018 levels as the growth in catalogue titles across major platforms slowed. Sales of periodical comics in comic stores were up mid-single digits.
The continued growth shows there is a high demand for the comics medium giving hope for the current difficult sales climate. Creating demand is not the issue, getting product int he hands of those who want it may be.
The analysts made two changes in methodology that affected estimates for 2019. First, they began including an estimate of graphic novels sold by comic stores from sources other than Diamond Comic Distributors; past estimates had assumed that sales of graphic novels by Diamond Comic Distributors accounted for nearly all of the graphic novels sold by comic stores. Second, they refined their estimate of Diamond’s North American sales to account for comics shipped from North America to locations beyond the continent, reducing the estimates of sales by North American comic stores accordingly. To some extent, these two changes in methodology offset.
The accompanying infographics, the analysis by Comichron and ICv2 was divided up between periodical comics (what some call “floppies” or “pamphlets”), graphic novels, and digital download-to-own sales. All print figures are calculated based on the full retail price of books sold into the market, and do not account for discounting or markup. Digital sales do not include subscription-based “all you can read” services.
The “Other” channel in the channel breakdown includes the Newsstand (periodical sales through specialty retail and mass merchant chains) and Crowdfunding (Kickstarter, etc.) channels. This year, those two channels each accounted for roughly half of the “Other” category.
Sources for the information include NPD BookScan, which collects weekly point-of-sale data on print books from over 16,000 locations including e-tailers, chains, mass merchandisers, independent bookstores, and more. NPD BookScan covers approximately 85% of the U.S. trade print book market. Some publishers classify titles that are primarily text, or art books, as graphic novels; those titles are removed from the analysis. The analysis also incorporates information released by Diamond Comic Distributors, the largest distributor of English-language comics and graphic novels in the world, on sales to comic stores.
Information is also gathered from a variety of other sources, including publisher, distributor, and retailer interviews.