The initial methodology is to compare the current issue on the Comixology top 20 chart (issues pulled the evening of 3/18) with the last issue we have print sales estimates for, usually this is from the Comichron February chart, but the last issue of Mister Miracle came out in January, so that number is in a different context from the rest.
The conventional wisdom that’s been handed down over the last few years is that the digital audience has more of less the same reading habits as the Direct Market Print audience. I’ve had multiple publishers tell me that digital sales of new issues are roughly 10-15% of print sales and the titles more or less have the same proportional popularity in digital as in print. Maybe a couple titles switch places on the sales ranking list, but largely the same. The bestsellers on the newsstand were not always the same bestsellers as in the Direct Market, so it doesn’t seem like that should necessarily be the case with digital. There will be a little bit of mismatch because these are more weekly than monthly ranks and it isn’t clear exactly how Comixology defines the reporting periods, but if you look at comics sales, you learn to live with the data available.
This week’s chart is a little unusual because of the massive 99-cent sale on Marvel digital TPBs. So first we’ll look at the new releases the way we usually do and then we’ll go back and look at the actual top 20 with the sales books in it.
|Comixology Rank||Issue||Previous Issue Print Sales Est.||Previous Issue Diamond Rank|
|1||Mister Miracle (2017-) Issue #7||38,655||38 (Jan)|
|2||Detective Comics (2016-) Issue #976||51,856||14|
|3||Darth Vader (2017-) Issue #13||49,134||17|
|4||Action Comics (2016-) Issue #999||43,810||24|
|5||The Flash (2016-) Issue #42||46,040||19|
|6||Injustice 2 (2017-) Issue #49||Digital First|
|7||Avengers (2016-) Issue #684||39,486||32|
|8||Titans (2016-) Issue #21||30,696||59|
|9||Wonder Woman (2016-) Issue #42||35,572||46|
|10||Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps (2016-) Issue #40||28,340||69|
|11||Marvel Two-In-One (2017-) Issue #4||35,890||44|
|12||X-Men Blue (2017-) Issue #23||35,062||49|
|13||Astonishing X-Men (2017-) Issue #9||31,786||55|
|14||Doctor Strange (2015-) Issue #387||24,864||87|
|15||All-New Wolverine (2015-) Issue #32||30,055||62|
|16||Red Hood and the Outlaws (2016-) Issue #20||20,744||108|
|17||Star Wars: Thrawn (2018) Issue #2 (of 6)||52,295||13|
|18||New Mutants: Dead Souls (2018-) Issue #1 (of 6)||New Series|
|19||Old Man Logan (2016-) Issue #36||37,227||41|
Right off the bat (that’s “bat,” not “Batman”) we see something that performing proportionally higher in digital: Mister Miracle. This is likely due to most of the retailers drastically under-ordering the first issue and all sorts of people popping over to the digital world to see what the fuss was about. Mister Miracle seems to have retained a lot, probably most, of those readers.
Action is showing up a little higher, but it’s been doing that. It isn’t clear if it’s Superman being a little bigger draw in the digital world (potentially a little more general audience than the Direct Market) or if it’s interest getting kicked up by the rapidly approaching issue #1,000 and arrival of Bendis.
Titans is showing up a bit higher than you might expect, but it did so in February, as well. Hal Jordan pops up a bit higher, too. Which could be a digital audience thing or could be the Zod storyline.
Doctor Strange also pops in a little higher and this is a comic you might have been wondering if it was going to start popping. Donny Cates is pretty hot with Thanos (moreso on the print side) and there’s the Damnation cross-over Event, so this is a book that could be picking up a little steam.
Once we get past All-New Wolverine things are a bit more mysterious. Up to that point, there was a pretty clear progression and it’s easy to spot where the titles are popping up a bit higher. Red Hood certainly seems to be performing higher. Thrawn, it’s not necessarily clear if it’s lower, since it’s a #2 and Marvels can have large drops after the first issue. Old Man Logan certainly seems to be lower on the list than you’d expect. The New Mutants miniseries is selling digitally about the where you’d expecting to see something… perhaps 28K-30K in print.
However, this was not a normal week. That Marvel fire sale on TPBs really skewed the chart. Here’s what the actual top 20 looked like.
|1||Vision: The Complete Series|
|5||Mister Miracle (2017-) Issue #7|
|6||Star Wars: Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith Vol. 1: Imperial Machine|
|7||Detective Comics (2016-) Issue #976|
|9||Secret Empire: United We Stand|
|10||Thor by Walter Simonson Vol. 1|
|11||Darth Vader (2017-) Issue #13|
|12||Thor by Walter Simonson Vol. 2|
|13||Action Comics (2016-) Issue #999|
|14||Edge of Venomverse|
|15||The Flash (2016-) Issue #42|
|16||Black Bolt Vol. 1: Hard Time|
|17||Master of Kung Fu Epic Collection: Weapon of the Soul|
|18||Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 1: Into The Twilight|
|19||Injustice 2 (2017-) Issue #49|
|20||Avengers (2016-) Issue #684|
Which is to say, only 7 new issues made it into the top 20.
So what kind of volume are we talking for these sales books?
You know the drill here. What you unofficially hear is that digital is 10%-15% of print. So let’s use Detective as our initial marker. Detective should theoretically be selling somewhere in the 5K – 7500 range digitally. So it’s probably safe to assume all those digital TPB’s above it sold 5K+ copies. So the top of the chart should have grossed over $25K for Marvel. Possibly drastically over. And remember, this isn’t counting sales over on Amazon’s main website, where the books were also on sale.
If I had to put a floor on the number of sale digital TPBs the top 20 generated, based on triangulating from the new issues around them, I’d put it around 60K. Marvel’s probably generating at least mid-6 figures off this sale.
Want to learn more about how comics publishing and digital comics work? Try Todd’s book, Economics of Digital Comics
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.