ICv2 has a piece called “Comics in Turnaround?” that suggests that while the New 52 boom has lifted volume everywhere, and the market seems on the verge of a rebound, it isn’t entirely clear where it will come from. Amazon is selling a larger and larger percentage of graphic novels, but there hasn’t been a new breakout GN hit in a while. And there’s also a product glut at the lower end:
One problem for every retailer except Amazon is the increasing share of the graphic novel business the online behemoth is accumulating, especially on higher priced products. That’s not going to change because there’s some exciting new content hitting the graphic novel format.
And the pipeline of product hitting graphic novel format is crowded, according to retailer interviews. Lower sales are getting divided among more titles, making purchasing more difficult.
Digital sales are growing as a percentage of the market, but apparently not at the expense of print sales. Retailers interviewed by ICv2 do not feel they’re losing sales to digital competition on DC’s day and date titles.
On a related topic, retailer Chris Butcher expands on his comments on superhero vs non-superhero sales, and sees a lot of strong new material out there:
So, briefly: The “non-superhero market” is alive and well from my perspective, yes. At any given time there are 10-15 ongoing monthly or nearly-monthly series that I could recommend to readers that don’t fit the ‘superhero’ mold, but are clearly genre-based or genre-inspired works. I think Image is going through something of a renascence right now in terms of the creator-owned work they’re publishing, and Icon, IDW, SLG, Dynamite, Boom, and Oni have all usually got at least one monthly comic worth following, and sometimes two or three. We even got a new issue of Optic Nerve this year!
And that’s before you get into the graphic novels. On a given week, we’re getting 40+ new graphic novels in, and only 25-33% of that is superhero related. Classic comic strips, art-comix collections, mainstream-bookstore stuff. It’s good. One side-effect of Marvel and DC’s “Throw it at the wall to see what sticks, and make sure everything gets collected in trade” business model is that their sales are so diffused among so many products that it’s next to impossible for them to have a ‘hit’ on any title. No one comes in asking for a specific “Green Lantern” or “Avengers” trade, because there are dozens and dozens of books featuring those characters, and it’s impossible to market them or promote them individually… but if someone comes in asking for Buffy, The Walking Dead, Scott Pilgrim, Skullkickers, Criminal, Chew, Locke & Key, etc.? We start them at v1, they read til there’s no more to read in that line, and we start making recommendations from there. That definitely affects how we order.
Even manga has a base at The Beguiling — the reappearance of SAILOR MOON seems to have reinvigorated that audience.
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.