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Indies, Charts, Diamond


John Jackson Miller, author and master number collater, alerts us to the fact that  Diamond’s May 2009 comics sales charts have been released, and contain a new “Top 50 Small Press” chart.

The new element this time out is that Diamond, which began releasing a Top 50 Independents list at the end of last year, added a Top 50 Small Publishers list this time out. (Or “Small Press” — I’m not sure what they’re calling it.) The Top 50 Indies list, in practice, just wound up reiterating items in the existing Top 300, since once you remove Marvel, DC, Image, and Dark Horse, you almost always still have 50 books left. Only one time did the 301st place item materialize in the Top 50 Indies list.

The Top 50 Small Publishers list has a few of the same items on that Top 50 Indies list — MOUSE GUARD from Archaia, SONIC from Archie — but it extends downward to capture 15 more items not in the Top 300 list, finishing with CASTLE WAITING Vol. 2, #15 from Fantagraphics at 334th place. It’s not clear what qualifies a publisher for the Small Publishers list (especially as some also make the Indies list); my guess is that they’re all publishers with dollar market shares below one percent, or something similar. I have a query in with the distributor.

Jackson has more in the link, including the main charts and some analysis, so you number junkies might want to check it out to get your weekend discussion group primed and ready to go.

This is as good a place as any to bring up the “Indie Sales Chart” that a lot of people have been asking about. Steve Horton, author of several books, comics and games, did the chart once as a test, and of course, it would be a very popular feature here, but I was concerned that indie publishers would be upset by it. It’s no secret that a pretty strong faction of folks associated with the Big Two think that the Marvel and DC Sales Charts are gradually killing periodical sales, and although I’ve never heard anyone on the retail end back up this theory, I do take it seriously enough that I wanted to make sure that running an Indie Sales Chart wasn’t going to strangle a bunch of titles in their crib.

In the end, publishers I spoke with were ambivalent about a potential chart. None of them jumped for joy at the idea, but no one thought it was the sure hoof beat of the Apocalypse, either. I felt the charts would be useful — transparency is generally a good thing, and I thought it might point out some interesting trends.

However, for now, this chart is on hold. Steve is just too busy with his freelance career for this to work out for him right now. So, we imagine a lot of creators are breathing a sigh of relief right now. As for ongoing indie sales analysis, The Mayo Report over at CBR does look at the entire top 300, and is a great addition to what Paul and Marc-Oliver do here.

So, that’s the latest on charts and what not. Back to our nap. Have a great weekend!

  1. “It’s no secret that a pretty strong faction of folks associated with the Big Two think that the Marvel and DC Sales Charts are gradually killing periodical sales”

    How the hell does that work? Sounds like grasping for excuses to me.

  2. Also, Jesus fuck, who cut the balls off of journalism in this country? To see an ostensible reporter talking about going hand in hat asking people to please, please let her report the news about them makes me want to cry and/or hit something.

  3. The period when no tables were available capturing the entire direct market — late 1995 through mid-1996 — was a period of colossal uncertainty for the DM for a LOT of reasons, but the fact that one of our usual tools for understanding the market was gone was surely one of them. Not the most important reason, by far, but it was more than an inconvenience, and more than worth the effort it took to remedy that (the results recorded here):


    These tables are a tool that writers can approach any number of ways for any number of purposes, and they mean different things at different times — today’s stock report is tomorrow’s historical data point. My angle is pretty much that of an archivist: I record last month not just for what it says about comics now, but what it’ll tell us when we’re looking back in a dozen years. The Web has brought more focus to the present-day horse-race elements than existed when these tables first started appearing in the 1980s, and that’s not surprising;
    still, I feel the race with the past is by far the more interesting one.

  4. Michael, the claim normally levied is that public sales charts cause speculation that books with lower sales numbers are in danger of cancellation, which in turn both causes people to abandon those books and to discourage people from picking up those books. One further element of the claim is that the figures reported are inaccurately low, causing people to believe books are in trouble while they are still healthy. Another element is that the people talking about sales charts do not know all the circumstances involved in each book, which causes further inaccuracies in just what books might be in trouble and which are okay. And there is another element that says that the mere existence of the charts cause people to see the fate of comics in general in a negative light (as is reflected in the recent years of “comics are dying” topics).

    Of course many others would disagree with most of those arguments on various grounds.

  5. Maybe the point is that when you do a chart, you influence what people are buying. When you don’t have enough money, you often want to buy what’s the most popular and ignore what’s not. I think it’s more the idae of a chart and not peculiarly the number of sales.

    On the other hand, if you see numbers of a book you like are low, wou may want to advice it to a much larger number of people. But, most of the times, when you know the numbers, it’s already too late …

  6. I heard that the Big Two are mad at people who read the comics they purchase, because reading certain comics has been known at times to make people want to not buy them anymore.

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