May 2006 Comic books break the 10 year slump

As always, Newsarama’s partners at Comics Buyer’s Guide have provided us more detailed analysis of May’s sale charts as well as estimates for the Top 300 comic books and Top 100 graphic novels sold to the direct market (click the preceding link for the charts). According to the analysis of CBG”s John Jackson Miller, comic book orders in the direct market in May were higher than they have been in nearly a decade. 

Diamond’s overall sales – including all comics, trade paperbacks, and magazines (not just those reported in the Top 300 and 100 charts – rose an “astounding” 40% over May 2005 to $37.58 million. ”Year-over-year increases of that magnitude have not been seen since the beginning of the 1990s color comics boom,” reported Millar, who cautioned this rapid growth is not yet something to be nervous about. 

“There are a few key differences with these figures,” he said. “There were only four shipping weeks in May 2005; this year there were five. While New Comics Day wasn’t until Thursday, June 1 in most places because of Memorial Day, those sales are all counted as part of May. When we compare four-ship-week June 2006 with five ship-week June 2005, we’ll see how well they stack up.” 

“Another difference is there are fewer comics stores this time around”, Miller said, “and without a major proliferation in the number of stores, there’s a natural check to the speed with which the market can accelerate. If we were seeing the number of shops doubling or tripling, as it did back then, we would be more likely to see the year-to-year doublings of sales we saw back then. But for now it appears that we simply have stores which are doing higher numbers in their existing locations.” 

Breaking the figures down some, the Top 300 comic books had retailer orders of 7.58 million units in May, a “whopping” 23% more than May 2005, which had one less shipping week. That’s the highest total seen in that category since December 1997, the month that Top Cow’s Darkness #11 and its 11 covers had pre-orders of 357,000 copies. 

For the first five months of 2006, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined 32.44 million copies, an increase of 10% over the 29.47 million copies sold in the period in the previous year. 

CBG is estimating May’s bestselling title – Marvel’s Civil War #1 – sold at least 260,700 copies (well above our own very rough early estimate) and missing July 2005’s All-Star Batman and Robin #1 by a mere 400 copies as the highest selling title this decade. Orders for DC’s first four issues of 52 were only estimated by Diamond, owing to that title’s returnability – but estimates for all four were above 120,000 copies. 

The growth is being seen all the way through the charts. “The bottom of the Top 300 chart is at 2,800 copies,” Miller said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve seen the bar set so high.” 

The Top 100 trade paperbacks and graphic novels reported by Diamond had orders worth $3.65 million at full retail in May, an increase of 3% over the same month in 2005. For the first five months of the year, the Top 100 trades for each month total $18.24 million, off 2% from the same period in the previous year, when sales were $18.69 million. 

For the first five months of 2006, the Top 300 comics and the Top 100 trade paperbacks from each month had orders worth $117.58 million, 15% over the $102.69 million ordered in the same period in 2005. 

Again, for much more analysis, including CBG<’s exclusive Diamond “Overall” sales analysis (which includes titles not in Diamond’s Top 300/100), click on the link. You can also click here for CBG’s archive of every Top 300/100 lists since 1997. 

Based on Actual Sales for Comics, Magazines, & GNs Invoiced in May 2006 

Comics, Magazines, & GNs Dollar Share 
Comics, Magazines, & GNs Unit Share 





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