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#459978 - 03/01/01 10:39 AM Top comics drop below 100,000
wrtiii Offline
Member

Registered: 07/28/00
Posts: 32
Loc: Ithaca, NY USA
WAY below. According to the ICV2 article, only 11 titles are above 50,000.

Of course, this represents only WHOLESALE sales, sales by the distributor to retail outlets. My question to those who are (still) comics retailers: What is the sellthrough? What percentage of these comics are actually being eaten by the retailers?

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#459979 - 03/01/01 10:50 AM Re: Top comics drop below 100,000
NatGertler Offline
Member

Registered: 07/10/99
Posts: 4618
Yes, it's only the wholesale sales.... but it's also only the direct market, and it's only initial preorders. Retailers seem to be ever more dependent on later orders. For example, Green Arrow #1 overprinted substantially above the initial orders... but that entire overprint was wiped out by the advance reorders (reorders taken before the comic is released.)

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#459980 - 03/01/01 10:53 AM Re: Top comics drop below 100,000
cincinnatus Offline
Member

Registered: 11/02/00
Posts: 963
Loc: Cincinnati
I know it's not necessarily the New York Times, but Fandom/Newsarama reported (via Kevin Smith) that sales on Green Arrow #1 were actually above 100,000. If I recall the article, the initial run was 83,000, and DC overprinted by 18,000--an overprint which was entirely sold out on advance reorders.

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#459981 - 03/01/01 11:01 AM Re: Top comics drop below 100,000
Chris Juricich Offline
Member

Registered: 09/19/99
Posts: 721
Loc: Berkeley, CA USA
It certainly isn't surprising, I don't doubt Milton Griepp's analysis-- he's one smart cookie according to the CW-- but I don't find it alarming, really.

DC is thick in the licensing and merchandising department of Warner/AOL so I'm not worried about those characters or properties. Marvel and Dark Horse? Who knows? The pantheon of 3500 characters that Marvel owns has at least some potential to them or future investors... possibly.

What I think is happening, though, is that its a natural development of the industry. I'm not blaming the majors for the failure, per se, but I just think its the times and the culture, really. Comics have had their day and I'm resigned to it. Only the strongest retailers will survive, and in my own SF Bay Area, there only seem to be the tough retailers left alive. Lee's reports success at his two stores and the staff at Comic Relief have indicated sales and or profit increases so these two disparate approaches to retailing comics seem healthy and alive.

But there are fewer stores.

And I, who was once a target demographic of the comics companies, now at 47, have fallen to that, what? 3% of males at that age still reading comics, if that? I am buying less, though, and passing more and more on books. Oddly, even if theyr'e in the bargain box, I'm picky even then.

I'm redefining myself as the guy who used to collect comics rather than the guy who does collect comics. I just read what I enjoy or hope to... for as long as I can, anyway.
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Chris Juricich
Berkeley, CA

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#459982 - 03/01/01 12:28 PM Re: Top comics drop below 100,000
Kim Thompson Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/29/05
Posts: 0
In the last five years, sales on our top alternative titles such as ACME, BLACK HOLE, and EIGHTBALL have remained rock steady, on the other hand. (And, of course, LOVE AND ROCKETS has restored the Hernandez Brothers to their mid-'90s level too.) So either it's two totally different audiences, or sales of these alternatives are rising even as the general audience is shrinking, for a stalemate of sorts.

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#459983 - 03/01/01 01:16 PM Re: Top comics drop below 100,000
JeffMason Offline
Member

Registered: 08/07/00
Posts: 591
Loc: Gainesville, Florida, USA
The only true drop in real sales in our books came when all of the exclusive distributorship stuff happened and Capitol City Distribution got sucked up by Diamond Comics Distribution (and when I decided not to publish anything for a year as well). We had marginal losses when Andromeda, Multibooks, Styx, and some newsstand and zine distributors (Fine Print, etc) went away, but the closing of those outlets were replaced by the opening of other distribution channels such as FM International, Cold Cut, etc.

Perhaps it is because we aren't really working for "market share" of the existing comic book market, but rather working for "market presence". Selling 5,000 of a title, for me, is wildly successful. Because I have almost no overhead, our bottom line is quite attainable.

I do, of course, absolutely root for the continuing viability of Diamond Comics as a profitable business because they really do help me meet that bottom line without me having to do a whole heck of a lot of work I would have to do otherwise.

Jeff Mason
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Alternative Comics

Web: http://www.indyworld.com/altcomics
Forum: http://www.talkaboutcomics.com/index2.php?c=28#alt

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#459984 - 03/01/01 02:07 PM Re: Top comics drop below 100,000
Chris Knowles Offline
Member

Registered: 01/23/99
Posts: 875
Loc: USA
First of all, I don't understand Rick's motivation in being so sensationalistic about this article. The numbers reported X-Men below 100 K in January, so the headline has no news value. I read the article and saw their numbers and I don't believe them. There is no documentation or corroboration for the sources of their numbers and it seems awfully early to make this kind of judgement.

Secondly, Just at a glance I saw that Lucifer, a title I follow was at 14K, a 2K dropoff from February and this made me instantly suspicious about the numbers, especially since it is a title that has been trending up.


Thirdly, these pre-order numbers are suspicious to begin with, especially when a book like Green Arrow #1, which pre-ordered at 68K ended up over 100 K and is sold out at the distributor level. Again, Rick's source for this dubious announcement didnt source their numbers, and since they are significantly lower than Michael Burns February numbers, I'd suggest we wait for some corroboration.

Is Splash becoming the Drudge Report of Comics? I'd respectfully suggest to Rick that he spent a little more time researching his stories before he spreads what I believe to be faulty information that can impact negatively on Industry morale.

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#459985 - 03/01/01 02:34 PM Re: Top comics drop below 100,000
ATKokmen Offline
Member

Registered: 05/22/00
Posts: 1170
Loc: New York, NY
While I'd certainly not argue that the traditional comics industry is in any way a model of health, it bears repeating that sales reports that only reflect data from initial pre-orders (i.e. that can not incorporate data from advance reorders, reorders, or newsstand sales) are intrinsically incomplete and, therefore, of debatable worth.

Moreover, the numbers from these other sources may well become increasingly significant, as more and more retailers make subsequent orders after their initial pre-order. (In general terms, it's certainly a trend in retailing to see purchasers order material in lesser quantities but more often. Which is why "just-in-time" inventory is such a buzzword all along the pipeline nowadays.)

So while any look at these initial pre-order numbers can rightly be looked on as discouraging, analyses that cannot take into account subsequent orders are fundamentally suspect or, at the least, should be regarded with an awareness of their intrinsic bias.


[This message has been edited by ATKokmen (edited 03-01-2001).]
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#459986 - 03/01/01 02:46 PM Re: Top comics drop below 100,000
Rick Veitch Administrator Offline
Member

Registered: 11/23/98
Posts: 3531
Loc: Vermont, USA
Chris,
Just click the link over to ICv2 to get a clear explanation of how they came to their conclusions. The short version is they extrapolated from numbers they were certain of against the Diamond Top 100 to get their numbers. This is a time-honored method that no one has been doing regularly since that guy at Antarctic Press gave it up a few years ago. I'm happy we have people like Milton and Tom with the knowledge and connections to start providing this intelligence again. It is unfortunate that it must be done ad hoc by interested parties in the news media, but its the best we are going to get in the Diamond/Exclusives oligarchy.

The Diamond preorder list is sort of like the Top 40 list in music. With comics branching out into the bookstores as graphic novel sales climb, these 32 page pamphlets mean less and less to the business. But there is a psychological connection we, who have lived in the Direct Sales Market, have to this stuff, and a pail of cold water in our faces from these numbers might not be pleasent, but it might be a good thing.

And the SPLASH sensationalistic? I'm crushed!

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Rick Veitch
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updated every day along with news of the world's most popular artform!
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#459987 - 03/01/01 02:54 PM Re: Top comics drop below 100,000
Walt Stone Offline
Member

Registered: 01/01/01
Posts: 496
Loc: Katy, Tx
Kim, a while back I used to take a look at the numbers generated, and there is a pronounced difference in the sales decline curves based on how much sales a book (or groups of books) have.

Generally speaking, the sales charts can be broken down into three groups. The TOP of the chart, the MIDDLE, and the BOTTOM. Each grouping of book sales seem to have similar decline curves once most of the noise is removed from the stats.

Where to put the labels of Top Middle and Bottom has changed over time. It shouldn't be done based on a certain number - more on how many above and how many below - once the "special" issues are taken out. I used to take out all issues with numbers less than iss#5, and all reissues I could identify.

The Top 25 or so sellers were consistant, and those that changed rankings from month to month within that group stood out quickly. Very few of those, but once those (relative) positions were averaged over time, anyone could see the real movers and shakers.

And the real duds.

The core numbers... again, taking out all issues less than 5, and adding up the remaining monthly books all of them sold... well, that was a health monitor of sorts. Again, I did it by groups, because there WAS a difference.

The TOP sellers' decline curve was steeper. No question about it. Percentage wise... even seeing through the higher signal to noise ratio present (crossovers, books iss# divisible by 25, etc)

The lower selling books had a separate curve, to be sure. Often bucking the trend of the more heavily sold books. At the time I speculated on advertising, as well as editorial changes and the like for the rapid changes of the top sellers, and even the middle sellers.
Well, I've quit doing all of that.
The conclusion was clear. Then and now.

If the sky falls so slowly that nobody notices, it doesn't mean the sky didn't fall.
Those of very short stature would certainly be the last ones to know, however.

Kim, your published books might very well be positioned for survival of any upcoming collapse of comic publishing.

May not happen at all, mind you. The last three months haven't really indicated the severity that was mentioned in the article, so I think the downturn that all the dept. stores saw around Dec. is just NOW being felt by the rest of the Diamond PreOrders. So, it may not happen at all, and this is all just news story hype.

But if the TOP of the charts continue to fall, more stores that specialize in selling those will follow. Stands to reason. As long as the small publishers aren't selling the bulk of their books through those stores... (subscription model, specialty stores and all that) I suppose the small ones might be just fine.

Walt Stone

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