We’re been behind on the regular news with all the con stuff going on, but the latest blog entry from Paul Levitz is . always worth noting. In this one Paul has many interesting points of DC history, particularly in regards to artists contracts. He also responds to some of the criticism of his analysis of book sales:

A few people here and elsewhere seemed to take issue with my comment that manga was more “increasingly dominated by a handful of properties” than American graphic novels. I went back and checked a bit, and for the fourth quarter last year, something north of 20% of bookstore manga sales came from four properties, and over 40 of the top 50 titles were from those four. That seems pretty concentrated to me, and more so than our core business, so I’ll stand by the comment.

Jakala responds to this

Again, looking at the Bookscan numbers, it’s hard to see how American genre graphic novels could drive readers to more titles. If you cut the list off above 100, very little of DC’s “core business” is represented; and if you expand the list further down the long tail, more and more manga series pop up, overwhelming any showing by American genre graphic novels. Just because a handful of manga series dominate the top 50 doesn’t mean your company is doing anything more diverse within that same space.

but ends with Levitz himself writing to explain:

that his observations were based on a comparison between two different sources: Q4 2007 sales figures in both bookstores and the Direct Market for American GNs; and Q4 2007 Bookscan numbers alone for manga. Based on these sources, Levitz concluded that American genre graphic novels represent a broader range of distinct properties than manga does. (When I asked about the issue of comparing apples and oranges with the different markets, Levitz pointed out that “Bookscan is a fair model in miniature for total manga sales” so he felt it was fair to extrapolate based on these data alone.)

There’s a lot to be said about all of this that we don’t have time to get into right now, but today’s white paper from Milton Griepp should be very interesting, especially since Griepp had this to say in an interview at PWCW:

MG: The market is maturing and it’s become even more important for publishers to understand just what the market’s underlying trends are in order to be competitive. Growth in the graphic novel market has slowed down and the internal dynamics of the mix of products is changing. While the dollars are not growing, growth in the number of titles has not changed. Retail looks good, titles continue to grow so there’s more stuff for the retailers to sell.

In sum, while arguing over product mix and chart depth may seem nitpicky, it’s actually what publishers are really going to have to concentrate on in the future as shelf space — and recession-tightened consumer dollars–remain static.