Here begins the chronicle of the Great Comixology/Amazon Marvel Sale of Spring ’18.

You know the basic drill: we keep a watch on the Comixology charts each week, usually Sunday night.  After last month’s estimates comes out, we have the ability to go back and compare those ranks with actual print sales and get a rough picture of what’s selling in digital and what’s proportionally more popular in digital than it is in print.  And we’re going to take a stab at triangulating those 99¢ Marvel sales.

The common wisdom is that DC and Marvel sell roughly 10-15% of their print circulation in digital.  Most of that seems to come in the first week of sales, so I’m comfortable using 10% of the print circulation of the new issues on either side of these 99¢ digital tpb sale items as boundary markers.  The extra caveat is that is isn’t immediately clear how big these sales are on the Amazon/Kindle platform, so the total digital sales numbers might be a little low or they might be a lot bigger.  Take this as a cocktail napkin estimate on the sales, because you’ll see some of the sales gaps between issues are bigger than others, but there’s a basis for what should be a consistent comparison and, regardless, the discounted tpbs are selling neck in neck with the top 20 releases of the week.

So here’s the first week of this massive sale, the week of 3/14/18, data collected on 3/18/18.

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First we’ll go for the full list with the discounted titles filled in.

Comixology Rank Issue Print Sales Est. Diamond Rank
1 Vision: The Complete Series 354 224 (HC)
2 Secret Empire
3 Generations
4 Marvel Legacy
5 Mister Miracle (2017-) Issue #7 40,337 34
6 Star Wars: Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith Vol. 1: Imperial Machine 682 117
7 Detective Comics (2016-) Issue #976 51,341 20
8 Venomverse 355 223
9 Secret Empire: United We Stand
10 Thor by Walter Simonson Vol. 1
11 Darth Vader (2017-) Issue #13
12 Thor by Walter Simonson Vol. 2
13 Action Comics (2016-) Issue #999 51,534 19
14 Edge of Venomverse 221 367
15 The Flash (2016-) Issue #42 46,170 23
16 Black Bolt Vol. 1: Hard Time
17 Master of Kung Fu Epic Collection: Weapon of the Soul 1054* 59
18 Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 1: Into The Twilight
19 Injustice 2 (2017-) Issue #49 Digital First
20 Avengers (2016-) Issue #684 54,061 16

Yes, that’s kind of a goofy looking list because this week had a 99¢ sale on an expansive collection of backlist titles, most of which didn’t have print orders showing up in the Diamond estimates.  Vision, Darth Vader and the two Venomverse titles had some print reorders, which does indicate a certain baseline of active popularity, but it doesn’t really doesn’t have a direct bearing on the digital sale figures.

Also complicating matters is that the bestselling title this week was Mister Miracle, a title that is proportionally more popular in digital than it is in print, but we don’t have a good handle on exactly how much more popular.  The #2 book is Detective Comics, more of a known quantity, so everything above it really ought to be selling at least 5200 downloads.  How much more?  Looking at successive weeks, I’d like to put the cap at around 9K, but this is the first week and people were going wild, it could be higher.  And you know what?  5200 copies makes for a pretty healthy month, in terms of DM sales, so we’re talking about significant quantities of books.

So Vision, Secret Empire, Generations and Legacy likely all sold in the 5200 – 9K+ download range.  Probably over 5500, but it’s not clear exactly how to peg Mister Miracle as a market.  Darth Vader probably sold ~5200-5500-ish.  The next block is probably tightly clustered together between 5100-5200 each.

It’s the last block of sales books that gets really interesting, because it contains the new release that charted the first week.  The upper boundary is The Flash at 46K.  The lower boundary is Avengers at 54K, but if you look at the rest of the month’s print orders and where the book’s been on the weekly charts, it’s likely that the issue where the retailers were upping the orders to find the real level and the real level is closer to 42K-44K.  Below that there are several books that are over-performing, so I’m comfortable estimating the sales for Black Bolt, Master of Kung Fu and Peter Parker as being in the 4200-4600 download range.

Now here’s the thing.  MOKF was a new release and ordered into the DM at 1,054 print copies.  So it appears that the digital orders were something like 4x the the DM print orders.  There’s no way there weren’t more downloads than initial DM print orders for that book.  As you’ll find out in my next few posts, that is going to be a pattern and it’s not the most drastic example.

Here’s the list of just the week’s “normal” comics without the big sale:

1 Mister Miracle (2017-) Issue #7 40,337 34
2 Detective Comics (2016-) Issue #976 51,341 20
3 Darth Vader (2017-) Issue #13 52,372 18
4 Action Comics (2016-) Issue #999 51,534 19
5 The Flash (2016-) Issue #42 46,170 23
6 Injustice 2 (2017-) Issue #49 Digital First
7 Avengers (2016-) Issue #684 54,061 16
8 Titans (2016-) Issue #21 29,674 60
9 Wonder Woman (2016-) Issue #42 35,358 39
10 Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps (2016-) Issue #40 28,819 66
11 Marvel Two-In-One (2017-) Issue #4 29,021 63
12 X-Men Blue (2017-) Issue #23 36,166 37
13 Astonishing X-Men (2017-) Issue #9 31,577 51
14 Doctor Strange (2015-) Issue #387 25,918 76
15 All-New Wolverine (2015-) Issue #32 27,586 72
16 Red Hood and the Outlaws (2016-) Issue #20 20,214 107
17 Star Wars: Thrawn (2018) Issue #2 (of 6) 37,304 36
18 New Mutants: Dead Souls (2018-) Issue #1 (of 6) 54,350 15
19 Old Man Logan (2016-) Issue #36 36,002 38
20 Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man (2017-) Issue #301 31,014 54

We already talked about the quirks of the top of that list.

Further down, Titans seems to be punching above its weight class for reasons that aren’t entirely clear.  Hal Jordan and Marvel Two-In-One are probably up a little.  X-Men Blue is charting a bit lower.  Red Hood is up.  Thrawn appears to have a big drop of from how it was ordered in print, but that will sometimes happen with second issues.  New Mutants is far below it’s print levels, but… Marvel and print variants, so maybe it was that or maybe it’s just more popular in print.  Old Man Logan seems like it’s proportionally less popular it digital.

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

2 COMMENTS

  1. So what this story is really telling me is that the only way the digital comics experience isn’t altogether inferior to the majority of readers is if you essentially give it away. People would take turds if they were free. And some would probably even buy them at 96% off too…

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