How many statistics can one news day handle? DC has just released results from their Retailer Survey, which they launched in conjunction with the New 52. As we noted at the time, the survey was aimed at gauging interest in each and every New 52 title, as well as general readership demographics. As such, it represents the most comprehensive reader survey a comics company has made in some time. While it’s very New 52-centric, it does reveal a lot. While DC has released their own bullet points, which we’ve shown below, ICv2 has more info and an interview with John Rood. You’ll want to head over there and digest the whole thing. But here’s the broad picture:
• The launch of DC COMICS-THE NEW 52 galvanized the traditional fan base for superhero comic books: male readers, who were already—or have at one time been—comic book fans.
• The survey results are not a reflection of all comic book readers or the broader audience for graphic novels. This was a survey of consumers who specifically purchased DC COMICS-THE NEW 52 comic books, either in print or digital format.
• DC COMICS: THE NEW 52 appealed mainly to avid fans and lapsed readers. More than 70% of those surveyed categorized themselves as avid fans who visit the comic book store every week. More than a quarter of in-store consumers were lapsed readers. The survey indicates that 5% of those polled identified themselves as first-time, new readers.
• More than 50% of DC COMICS-THE NEW 52 readers were between the ages of 13 and 34. And more than 50% of in-store DC COMICS-THE NEW 52 consumers had an annual income of $60K or less. The data supports and arguably validates our philosophy of holding the line at $2.99 which DCE is committed to maintaining.
• The majority of titles generated strong interest and likely reader retention.
• Avid Fans purchased up to 20 titles out of the 52 titles.
• Digital: of dual mode readers, digital is far from replacing print.
• Impulse buys: Up to four-in-ten respondents reported that a NEW 52 title they were interested in (at a physical store location) was out of stock. Nearly two-thirds made a spontaneous purchase.
Not included in DC’s breakdown: 93% of the respondents were male.
ICv2 has much more on the print-vs-digital metrics, backing up Rood’s contention that digital is still “additive”:
Interestingly the survey did indicate that 57% of the digital readers did read print comics, while just 16% of the print readers had purchased or read digital comics. Also of interest are the top reasons that readers preferred one format or the other. Digital readers preferred reading comics digitally because they provided immediate access (which could mean that many of these readers don’t have access to a convenient comic shop), and they also like the convenience and easy storage and portability of digital comics. Print readers listed collectibility as the primary reason they bought physical copies, but they also expressed a dislike of reading comics onscreen. Rood told ICv2 that the redemption of the digital codes in DC’s digital combo packs has been “astonishingly low,” a fact he attributed to the purchasers of those books being primarily interested in collecting a different edition of the material they like.
One other takeaway: with 25 of New 52 readers under 18 and 7% female, you can see why a new kid-focused Supergirl title isn’t much of a priority for DC. They’re sticking with their base, and concentrating on that 25% of lapsed readers. As much as the comics commentator class might not like this, it does make a lot of business sense. Conversely, you could argue that not making any material for outside the base might contribute to the low readership in the younger and female audiences.
UPDATE: Here’s the age breakdown provided by ICv2:
13-17 — 1%-2% 18-24 — 14%-22% 25-34 — 37%-42% 35-44 — 27%-35% 45-54 — 7%-11% 55+ — 2%
Percentage variables are between the various survey sources.
Then there’s that 5% new reader figure. Is that really low, really high, or just right? We’re not entirely certain. Neither the initial breakdown or ICv2’s figure give any idea of how new reader percentages break down from the three areas of the survey: digital, in-store, and online. The breakdown of respondents shows a mere 167 responses from in-store, 5,336 from online, and 626 from digital customers via comiXology and DC’s own store.
Lots of grist for the mill. Discuss!
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.