Today’s absolute must-read is Brian Hibbs’ breakdown of the Bookscan (ie, mainstream bookstore) numbers for last year, which is just filled with important, and at times somewhat distressing, information about how comics are doing outside of the Direct Market. The short version is “badly”; Hibbs reports an 11.2% drop in books sold and 6.2% drop in dollars from 2010, although he thinks there may be a silver lining to those numbers (“What’s actually a little optimistic, in my mind, is that the drops that the 2011 market shows is a smaller percentage drop than it was in 2010,” he explains. “That suggests to me, possibly, that if Border’s hadn’t had its troubles, or if the economic climate had been better, then we could have seen a flat or improved year in the bookstores”). The victor of the year is undoubtedly kids’ books, which take the top three best sellers, although The Walking Dead generated $8.7 million in sales through its various incarnations, making it the most successful individual franchise on the list.
Hibbs notes that, while it still makes up 52% of the market, manga continues to weaken as a market, European and American publishers are still finding more success with books with some kind of crossmedia tie-in than all-original standalone properties. That said, Marvel – a company that had the massively successful Thor, Captain America and X-Men First Class movies t0 help promote their offerings last year – seemed to choke in the mainstream marketplace, ranking a somewhat stunning eighth out of “western” publishers:
The best-selling book with “Thor” in the title (“Thor” having grossed $449m in world-wide box office, you understand) is actually the $125 Walt Simonson Omnibus (only 4020 copies, but that cover price makes it the #10 dollar book for the entire year with a gross retail of just over half-a-million dollars.
The best-selling “X-Men” titled book is “X-Men: Age of X” (3237) sold, though it’s is beaten by “Uncanny X-Force: Apocalypse Solution” (3807). Neither is even remotely akin to the film “X-Men: First Class.”
No “Captain America”-titled book makes the Top 750 — “Reborn” comes in at #837 with 2903 copies. Again, no apparent bounce from the film.
I think it is worth mentioning that Marvel flooded the market in advance of “Cap” and “Thor” with miniseries, where it was stated the goal was to have a wide backlist in place when the films came out. Not a single one of those books that were purportedly created with the film-goers in mind, made the Top 750. Marvel harmed its own brand in its core market by flooding out more material than the market could support, and it appears to have gained absolutely nothing from it on the back end.
Equally stunning: No Marvel book apparently sold more than 10,000 copies in the bookstore market. No wonder the publisher likes to stay away from the OGN format.
There is so much to find in this report. Go read.