As there will be no industry white paper at San Diego, where Milton Griepp traditionally releases his industry sales figures for the year, he and John Jackson Miller has teamed up for an estimate of the size of the comics market in 2013: $870 million.
That’s up $135 million from 2012 Okay this was ambiguously worded and the origianl figure didn’t include digital — when that’s thrown in it’s $870 mil in 2013 vs $805 mil in 2012 — still up $65 million — a very sizable increase. With sales this year generally flat it probably won’t be a big increase unless something really nutty happens, but that shows that it wasn’t just your imagination: 2013 was a pretty swell year for the comics.
The market for comics and graphic novels in the U.S. and Canada reached $870 million at retail last year, according to a new estimate prepared jointly by ICv2’s Milton Griepp and Comichron’s John Jackson Miller.
“I’ve been networking with Milton on questions of the numbers underlying the business since he was at Capital City Distribution and I was editing Comics Retailer magazine back in the 1990s,” Miller said. “It’s been great to formally collaborate on these estimates for the first time, and I think the result is the most inclusive and accurate picture of the market either of us has ever been able to produce.”
“I’m very excited about the market model this collaboration with John has produced,” Griepp said. “I’ve always had great respect for John’s work in the area of comic sales, and putting our heads together has enabled us to build a model that all can use to analyze and understand the market.”
As presented in the accompanying infographic, the 2013 analysis by ICv2 and Comichron was divided up between periodical comics (what some call “floppies” or “pamphlets”), graphic novels, and digital download-to-own sales. Graphic novels contributed the largest portion ($415 million) and comic books nearly as much ($365 million), and digital (based on numbers released yesterday by ICv2) continued to grow faster than the market at $90 million. 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.
According to the report by Comichron and ICv2, comics periodical sales occur primarily in the comics store channel ($340 million) and to a declining degree in the “newsstand” channel ($25 million). For book format products, well over half of all graphic novel sales ($245 million) occur in the book channel, with a smaller share ($170 million) in the comics store channel.
ICv2 and Comichron also collaborated on market estimates for 2011 and 2012, revising earlier estimates by both. According to the new report, comics periodical sales grew from $300 million in 2011 to $335 million in 2012; graphic novel sales grew from $390 million in 2011 to $400 million in 2012; and combined comics and graphic novel sales grew from $690 million in 2011 to $735 million in 2012.
“It’s great that the comics market has found new ways to grow even as the over-all book and magazine markets remain challenged,” Griepp said. “It’s proof of the fundamental entertainment and literary value of the comics medium.”
“According to our records here at Comichron, without adjusting for inflation, this is the highest dollar value the market has reached since 1993,” Miller said. “That’s great for the business, and we’re excited to see what comes next.”
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.