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Comixology Sales Charts: Marvel’s X-Treme Discounts on Digital TPBs Dominate Again… But Batman’s On Top (Week of 3/21/18)

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Continuing our look at how the Comixology sales ranks relate to the Diamond print estimates, here’s how things looked last week.

The initial methodology is to compare the current issue on the Comixology top 20 chart (issues pulled the evening of 3/25) with the last issue we have print sales estimates for from the Comichron February chart.

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.

As was the case last week, the chart had a large number of Marvel $0.99 discounted digital trade paperback collections on it.  It isn’t clear if Marvel’s X-treme discounts are going to be a regular thing, an end of the fiscal quarter thing or a random event.  We’ll just have to wait and see what happens this week and perhaps next.  As such, I’ve broken it into two different charts.  First the top 20 current single issues, then the actual top 20 with the discounted collections in it.

Comixology Rank Issue Previous Issue Print Sales Est. Previous Issue Diamond Rank
1 Batman (2016-) Issue #43 93,889 4
2 The Mighty Thor (2015-) Issue #705 41,533 30
3 Superman (2016-) Issue #43 42,694 27
4 Justice League (2016-) Issue #41 44,148 22
5 Injustice 2 (2017-) Issue #50 Digital First
6 Star Wars (2015-) Issue #45 56,045 8
7 Avengers (2016-) Issue #685 39,486 32
8 Super Sons (2017-) Issue #14 29,625 65
9 Nightwing (2016-) Issue #41 27,731 72
10 The Brave and the Bold: Batman and Wonder Woman (2018-) Issue #2 42,087 28
11 X-Men Gold (2017-) Issue #24 35,420 47
12 Thanos (2016-) Issue #17 29,806 63
13 Ms. Marvel (2015-) Issue #28 14,286 140
14 Runaways (2017-) Issue #7 13,692 144
15 Green Lanterns (2016-) Issue #43 25,155 84
16 Monstress Issue #15 14,466 138
17 Aquaman (2016-) Issue #34 24,974 85
18 Star Wars: Poe Dameron (2016-) Issue #25 24,937 86
19 Kill Or Be Killed Issue #17 16,584 128
20 Doctor Strange: Damnation (2018) Issue #3 (of 4) 41,564 29

As is usually the case when it ships, Batman is the top seller.  That’s not a surprise.  What comes next is a bit more interesting.

At first blush, Mighty Thor takes a big jump up.  Except that’s the finale to the saga of Jane Foster as Thor, so I suspect the print orders and sales on that might be a little higher than usual.  Thor is one of those books that looks like it might be a little stronger in digital, but this strong?  We need to wait for the March estimates to know for sure.

The usual question of whether Star Wars is less popular compared to other digital comics or Superman and Justice League are stronger performers  comes next… with the caveat that Superman titles have appeared to be picking up a little bit of steam ahead of Action #1000 and the arrival of Bendis.  But we’ve seen this pattern before.

Avengers has looked like it’s something that’s been picking up a little steam, but whether it is or is just more or less keeping its February sales, this is where you’d expect to find it in relation to the week’s other releases.

On the other hand, Super Sons and Nightwing continue to show up higher on the list than you might expect.  Supers Sons is consistent with the theory that certain YA titles perform proportionally better in digital.  Nightwing?  It appears that the title is probably a little more popular in digital, but why is an interesting question.

With Brave and the Bold the February numbers were for the first issue, so we should be expecting a dip.  That said, it would appear to be doing a good job of holding onto it’s audience if it’s slotted above X-Men Gold (which is right where you’d expect it to be).

Thanos is more or less where you’d expect it to be, but then two more Marvel YA titles, Ms. Marvel and Runaways make a big jump.

Green Lanterns gives us a clue that jump is real and then Monstress turns up, as does Kill or Be Killed two slots later.  Image A-list titles punching about their print status in digital is a pattern we’re used to seeing.

Finally, we shouldn’t necessarily read too much into how low the Doctor Strange: Damnation event series is here.  That February sales estimate is for the first issue and Marvel tends to have steeper drop offs because of all the variants and incentives.  It suggests, unless digital interest is lower for some reason, a print reader level of ~24K-25K.

And then there was the full list.

1 Batman (2016-) Issue #43
2 Spider-Men II
3 The Mighty Thor (2015-) Issue #705
4 Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War Prelude
5 X-Men Blue Vol. 0 : Reunion
6 Superman (2016-) Issue #43
7 X-Men Blue Vol. 3: Cross Time Capers
8 Justice League (2016-) Issue #41
9 Injustice 2 (2017-) Issue #50
10 Star Wars (2015-) Issue #45
11 Avengers (2016-) Issue #685
12 Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Clone Wars Vol. 2
13 Super Sons (2017-) Issue #14
14 Marvel Two-In-One Masterworks Vol. 3
15 Generation X Vol. 2: Survival of the Fittest
16 Iron Fist Vol. 2: Sabretooth – Round Two
17 Captain America: Prisoner of War
18 Hulk: Visionaries – Peter David Vol. 4
19 Nightwing (2016-) Issue #41
20 The Brave and the Bold: Batman and Wonder Woman (2018-) Issue #2

Figure that Batman sells a bit under 94K in print, so digitally you’d expect somewhere in the range of roughly 9400 to 14,100.

Let’s call the Thor/Superman/Star Wars range about 5K in digital for the sake of argument, since there’s some question as to what the baseline market should be there.  So Spider-Men II should have sold over 5K digital copies on Comixology.  Potentially between 10K-14K.  That’s a lot of copies for a tpb.  Almost certainly over 5K copies for the Infinity War Prelude and X-Men Blue volumes.

Again, we’ll need to check the March estimates, but that sale may have moved more highly discounted copies in digital than the DM ordered in print.   The question is how many of those sales were to people who intended to buy a print copy, but changed their mind vs. “hey, that’s so cheap I’ll try it?”

If we treat Brave and the Bold like X-Men Gold’s sales, we should expect all the other sale digital tpbs that charted to have sold at least 3500 copies on Comixology.  That’s not counting any sales on Amazon-proper and Kindle.  Those are very significant numbers relative to how trade paperbacks are normally ordered into the DM.  There’s no denying there’s a lot of traction with this sale, which I’ll start referring to as an ongoing sale if it reloads with another set of new releases this week.

Want to learn more about how comics publishing and digital comics work?  Try Todd’s book, Economics of Digital Comics

2 COMMENTS

  1. I suspect the high rank for the digital SPIDER-MEN II comes with a large side helping of cannibalism.

    The TPB hasn’t been released yet, and Amazon is charging $12.58 for it. Seeing it available for $0.99 digitally — with the added bonus of not having to wait a couple of weeks — made it very attractive for folks to cancel their TPB orders, and buy it digitally.

    Certainly that drives up the digital sales of SPIDER-MEN; but wouldn’t that be a net loss for Marvel? I.e., wouldn’t they make more off the TPB sales than a digital copy at $0.99?

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