For the week of 10/3/18, Superman was the top seller on the Comixology sales chart in another week that showcased a growing divide between the Diamond chart’s order of the world and how things sell in digital.
|Issue||Previous Issue Print Sales Est.||Previous Issue Diamond Rank|
|1||Superman (2018-) Issue #4||67,405||16|
|2||Avengers (2018-) Issue #9||58,060||21|
|3||Amazing Spider-Man (2018-) Issue #7||84,376||9|
|4||Spider-Geddon (2018-) Issue #1 (of 5)||74,507||12|
|5||Infinity Wars (2018) Issue #4 (of 6)||63,700||18|
|6||Detective Comics (2016-) Issue #990||50,479||28|
|7||Immortal Hulk (2018-) Issue #7||44,741||34|
|8||Wonder Woman (2016-) Issue #56||33,851||56|
|9||Captain America (2018-) Issue #4||53,188||26|
|10||The Flash (2016-) Issue #56||45,729||33|
|11||Titans (2016-) Issue #27||28,240||78|
|12||Venom (2018-) Issue #7||73,543||15|
|13||Red Hood: Outlaw (2016-) Issue #27||24,688||90|
|14||Hellboy Omnibus Vol. 4: Hellboy in Hell||N/A|
|15||X-23 (2018-) Issue #5||33,575||57|
|16||Ms. Marvel (2015-) Issue #35||12,927||149|
|17||Hellboy Omnibus Vol. 3: The Wild Hunt||N/A|
|18||Hawkman (2018-) Issue #5||24,687||91|
|19||Catwoman (2018-) Issue #4||55,068||24|
|20||Hellboy Omnibus Vol. 1: Seed of Destruction||N/A|
There’s more disconnect than normal this week when comparing the digital and print sales. More exceptions in general.
The chart starts out with Superman in the top spot. We’re used to that, but the previous issue of Superman was #16 on Diamond’s September chart, so we should possibly be asking in the back of our mind whether Superman might be a little more popular in digital? It doesn’t have to be, but we should be open to the possibility.
The #2 slot is Avengers, which is again more or less normal. In print, Avengers is bouncing between low 60Ks and high 50Ks, trying to find a level. It appears to consistently be ordered lower than Superman in print and on the Comixology chart.
At #3 and #4, are Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Geddon. This is where the chaos begins. The last issue of Amazing was the #9 book on the Diamond September chart with ~84.4K print orders. The zero issue of Spider-Geddon was #12/~74.5K print orders. Superman had ~67.4K print orders in September. So either Superman and Avengers are significantly more popular in digital or the Spidey books are significantly less popular in digital. It’s been playing out that way since the various relaunches, but with Amazing at issue #7, the print sales should be finding a level and that level seems to be a lot higher than the proportional digital level. Or perhaps it’s just a case of order incentives and variants prevailing… but the proportional digital readership sure seems lower. Again, this is something we’ve been seeing the last couple months, so it could be the new normal in digital.
Infinity Wars comes in at #5. This is a title that’s ordered in at ~5700 copies higher than Avengers, but it’s following a consistent pattern of being lower in digital.
Detective Comics comes in at #6, still clinging above 50K in print. This is out guidepost as things are about to get fluid.
Immortal Hulk is the #7 book of the week. It double-shipped in September, with a ~48K and a ~44K issue. I suspect the digital version is still performing closer to 48K, partially because it’s three slots above The Flash.
Wonder Woman is #8, getting a bounce into the equivalent of the mid-to-high 40Ks with the Justice League Dark weekly event in October.
Captain America follows. It’s showing up lower than the previous issue’s print orders, but in a place that could be as much attrition from issue #3 to #4 as anything else. It’s also seems to be selling the equivalent of mid-to-high 40Ks. Which you might have had higher hopes, that’s not a horrible place for the comic to be in the greater context of Marvel’s current sales slate.
The Flash is the #10 book of the week. This is a title that’s fallen off a bit since the Flash War arc. I suspect the print order decline has caught up with the digital decline and this number is appropriate, but given the lack of clear markers, it’s theoretically possible this is a little high. (It probably isn’t low.) In the case of Flash, the digital charts definitely showed the readership decline in real time.
Now we enter another zone of chaos. Flash is a guidepost number at the #10 slot with ~45.7K print orders for the previous issue. The next potential guidepost we have is X-23 at #15 (~33.6K print orders in September) and X-23 is the sort of book that might be over-performing in digital… we just don’t have solid enough numbers around it to say it with much confidence at this point. With that in mind…
Titans is #11 for the week and continues to over-perform in digital (~28.2K print orders for the previous issue).
Venom is #12 for the week and continues to drastically under-perform in digital. It’s landing in the middle of titles that get ordered in between 33K and 45K. If X-23 is over performing, let’s be generous and say 40K-45K. Except the previous issue was ordered in print at ~73.5K. It’s in the vicinity of half as popular in digital as it is in print. The trend continues, be it heavy speculator activity or a different audience in print.
Red Hood and the Outlaws is #13. Previous issue print orders of ~24.6K, much like Titans, this title took a sales jump in the digital format a while back and is holding on.
#14 for the week is the digital tpb of Hellboy Omnibus #4: Hellboy in Hell. People love a sale and this appears to be selling as though it were at least a 33K print comic.
X-23 is #15 and we already discussed that.
Ms. Marvel is #16 and it always over-performs in digital.
#17 is another sale digital tpb – Hellboy Omnibus #4: The Wild Hunt.
Hawkman comes in at #18. The previous print issue was ordered in at ~24.7K. Could be some more attrition going on, but that ought to be ballpark.
#19 is another comic that’s drastically under-performing in digital. Catwoman‘s last print order was ~55.1K. This digital issue seems to be behaving like a ~24.7K print comic in the best possible interpretation. Still, four issues in, you’d think that retailers would be starting to find a level, so unless there’s some truly epic variant cover ordering going on, this appears to be a legitimate audience difference between mediums. Percentage-wise, it may be the worst print-to-digital performance drop off in the weekly top 20. We weren’t seeing things this drastically less popular in digital last year.
#20 is Hellboy Omnibus #1: Seed of Destruction. More sale action.
It appears that this week’s sales chart is more out of sync with the Diamond print order estimates than in sync. There’s been more variance in the last few months, but this week is special. I’m counting 12 or 20 items are, relative to print, performing significantly higher or lower — or are backlist on sale. The apple cart was upset this week. (Pun provided for the veteran digital observers in the audience.)
Methodology and standard disclaimers:
The initial methodology is to compare the current issue on the Comixology top 20 chart (issues pulled the evening of 10/4) with the last issue we have print sales estimates for from the Comichron September chart.
The conventional wisdom that’s been handed down over the last few years is that he 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.
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.