Comic Book Jones on Staten Island

How many comic shops are there in the US? In the late ’80s/early ’90s, numbers like 8,000 were thrown around, but the great Distribution Wars of the ’90s took that down to what many reported to be south of 2000. Since then, the numbers have slowly built up, and on Thurdasy morning, Diamond announced
that comics shops were up 4% in 2013 with 2,638 different accounts ordering products in September 2013, over September 2012.

Now, this being Villains Month, I wondered if there was a surge because of the old ’90s style lenticular covers as well. I asked around but there didn’t seem to be any opinion one way or another on this. What did come across is that business is UP for most accounts. Comic Book Jones, the store shown above, told me that their sales are up 21% from last year and 60% from two years ago.

Given the disruption in the bookstore business, a rise in indie specialty retail shops of any kind is hugely significant. Perhaps more than anything, this solidifies the idea that we’re doing okay and the best could even be yet to come in the comics corner of the world.


  1. Plus, some of those could be “buying clubs” and not actual stores. I know they’ve tried to discourage the practice in recent years, but I’m sure it still exists in some places. Basically, in areas underserved by comic shops, fans band together as a club, and order their books directly from Diamond. As long as they hit a particular minimum, the sales would go through.

  2. I was walking to the professional panels on Friday morning when I met the tail end of the Diamond Retailer breakfast. One retailer I spoke with does not have a store… he attends a twice-a-week flea market.

    You could argue that he isn’t a retailer, but then, he’s selling comics to customers which is underserved. So he might be an even more important retailer than an LCS.

    Here’s the thing: comics shops are independent bookstores, AND specialty stores. How many crime/mystery bookstores still exist? SF? That 2600+ stores exist is amazing.

    What needs to be done in the next year:
    Stores need to set up electronic shops online.
    Many do not even have a website. (Facebook is not a website. It’s a hand-lettered, hand-painted sign that says “Bye you’re comiks here.” It’s an ad in the yellow pages, and about as informative.)

    I spoke with Diamond at ICV2, and they can do it, setting up electronic storefronts and processing all of the mail order shipping.

    The stores are the ones which have to take the initiative. Because that void left by Borders? ICV2 reports it’s being filled by Amazon. Amazon could easily set up an online store marketed directly to geeks. And then that 800-lb gorilla which is making life interesting for book publishers will make life interesting for comics publishers as well.
    They’ve already got a graphic novel line. They already own IMDB. And Soap.com. And Zappos. And Shelfari. And…

  3. There’s always a great opportunity for retailers. It requires a broader perception of who the audience actually is, working with your teachers and librarians in a collaborative effort…and a solid marketing and advertising effort is definitely needed.

  4. Around 1993/1994, I had a mailing list that had more than 6500 retail outlets (most were brick and mortar stores, but certainly not all), compiled from a variety of sources.

  5. What is my best option to get comic book store data (shop,address,email,phone or whatever the store lists) both for the entire USA and international (english speaking countrys only) so we can send them info about a comic product we are working on.

    Also what company/companys do the comic book stores go through to buy there comics?

    Any advice would be great!

    Thanks, Kal

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