The exact sales of digital comics are somewhat shrouded in mystery. We’ve been assured that _most_ DC and Marvel titles sell within 10%-15% of the print totals and that the sales rank/order is somewhat consistent, with some notable exceptions. It’s been offered that independent titles might have higher sales, percentage-wise… at least here and there.
So what would happen if we took Comixology’s top 20 sellers and compared them to the sales charts? This isn’t a _perfect_ experiment. Comixology doesn’t have a monthly chart and the most recent sales estimates are from December, not January… but it’s an interesting way to test that conventional wisdom of digital and print sales mostly lining up in the same order.
So let’s see how it looks. On the left will be the Comixology sales rank as recorded on Sunday evening, 1/21/18. On the right will the the previous issue (or closest to it if it’s already double shipped in January) from the Comichron.com December sales estimates.
- Batman #39 – #38 was at 92,902
- Super Sons #12 – #11 was at 37,356
- The Might Thor #703 – #702 was at 41,581
- Superman #39 – #38 was at 44,281
- Justice League #37 – #35 was at 46,228
- Star Wars #42 – #40 was at 61,064
- Injustice 2 #41 – N/A Digital First Title
- Avengers #676 – #674 was at 33,199
- Nightwing #37 – #35 was at 29,310
- X-Men Gold #20 – #18 was at 37,616
- Trinity #17 – #16 was at 25,178
- Doctor Strange #384 – #383 was at 23,021
- Aquaman #32 – #31 was at 25,474
- Damage #1 – N/A
- Green Lanterns #39 – #37 was at 26,055
- All-New Wolverine #29 – #28 was at 29,512
- Champions #16 – #15 was at 23,190
- Kill or Be Killed #15 – #14 was at 16,36 (November)
- Amazing Spider-Man Venom, Inc. Omega #1 – Venom, Inc. Alpha #1 was at 69,600
- Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #299 – #298 was at 29,431
What can we learn from pairing this sample with some print sales data? Mostly, it opens up more mysteries, although it does suggest that digital sales might not be the predictable percentage they used to be.
The biggest question is whether Star Wars is under performing in digital or Super Sons, The Mighty Thor and Superman are all performing much better than you might expect?
OK, any way that you look at it, Super Sons appears to be performing a bit more strongly in digital, relative to the other titles. Kill or Be Killed is also showing up in the company of titles that sell better in print. Champions might be a little higher, too. Super Sons and Champions might be evidence to support the old theory that some of the more directly YA-targeted material performs more strongly in digital, at least in terms of serialization.
It’s definitely interesting to see Venom, Inc. so much lower on the chart… but then again, you don’t have variant covers propping things up with digital. Digital is for reading.
Damage popping up between Aquaman and Green Lanterns doesn’t speak to much pent up demand for that title with the digital audience, but perhaps it will fare better with the Direct Market audience.
It’s just one data sample and things may look quite different taken across an entire month, but the sales ranking sure does seem to have more than slight differences from the print numbers we see every month.
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.