Continuing our exploration of the Comixology/Amazon 99¢ Marvel sale and how it matches up with the DM’s orders.

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 second week of this massive sale, the week of 3/21/18, data collected on 3/25/18.

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

1 Batman (2016-) Issue #43 91,649 8
2 Spider-Men II 2097* 16
3 The Mighty Thor (2015-) Issue #705 93,082 6
4 Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War Prelude 1792* 25
5 X-Men Blue Vol. 0 : Reunion 997* 64
6 Superman (2016-) Issue #43 42,291 32
7 X-Men Blue Vol. 3: Cross Time Capers 1960* 20
8 Justice League (2016-) Issue #41 43,675 31
9 Injustice 2 (2017-) Issue #50 Digital First
10 Star Wars (2015-) Issue #45 52,408 17
11 Avengers (2016-) Issue #685 46,037 24
12 Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Clone Wars Vol. 2 1127* 54
13 Super Sons (2017-) Issue #14 28,999 65
14 Marvel Two-In-One Masterworks Vol. 3
15 Generation X Vol. 2: Survival of the Fittest 889* 84
16 Iron Fist Vol. 2: Sabretooth – Round Two 1069* 56
17 Captain America: Prisoner of War
18 Hulk: Visionaries – Peter David Vol. 4
19 Nightwing (2016-) Issue #41 26,951 75
20 The Brave and the Bold: Batman and Wonder Woman (2018-) Issue #2 31,831 49

The second week is when those 99¢ new releases really started to take hold.

Looks like Amazon gave Bendis a present on the way out.  The upper boundary on that is roughly 9100 downloads, the lower boundary is a little harder to define.  That’s the final Jane Foster issue of Thor, so it absolutely got ordered big and sold big, but the digital sales didn’t match the print orders.  The next lowest title we have something approaching a firm grasp on is Star Wars, which conventional wisdom suggests would be a boundary of 5200 downloads, but we’re not sure what the deal with Star Wars, Superman and Justice League is for raw digital numbers.  We’re looking at something in the 5K – 9K range, but realistically we’re probably looking at something between 7K-9K downloads for Spider-Men II.  Since it ordered into the DM at 2097 print copies, the digital downloads could have easily outsold print by 4x.

Avengers: Infinity War Prelude, X-Men Blue, Vol. 0  and X-Men Blue V. 3 are all probably in a 5K-8K download range, with V. 3 being a lot closer to 5K.  It’s interesting that X-Men Blue V. 0 was ahead of V. 3 in sales.  Was this a case of “I’m V. 3 at the shop already, but let me see what Vol. 0 is?”  That’s probably the answer retailers would like to hear.  So we’re looking at 2x – 8x sales above print orders on that batch depending how high in that range they hit.

That Star Wars Epic Collection is hitting above some likely over-performing digital titles, so the sales range is going to be 2800-4600, probably closer to 4600.  So a print multipler of ~2.5x – 4x.

That final batch depends on whether you think a lot of titles are over-performing relative to X-Men Gold.  I personally don’t, so I think you’re looking at a 2700-3000 download range.  Bump that up to 3500 if you’re an optimist.  And we’re looking at roughly a 2.5x – 3x multiplier on initial DM print orders again.

We’re starting to see a pattern of 2x-4x of DM print initial orders for these digital sale books.

Now here’s the chart of just the “new” issues without the sale books:

Comixology Rank Issue Previous Issue Print Sales Est. Previous Issue Diamond Rank
1 Batman (2016-) Issue #43 91,649 8
2 The Mighty Thor (2015-) Issue #705 93,082 6
3 Superman (2016-) Issue #43 42,291 32
4 Justice League (2016-) Issue #41 43,675 31
5 Injustice 2 (2017-) Issue #50 Digital First
6 Star Wars (2015-) Issue #45 52,408 17
7 Avengers (2016-) Issue #685 46,037 24
8 Super Sons (2017-) Issue #14 28,999 65
9 Nightwing (2016-) Issue #41 26,951 75
10 The Brave and the Bold: Batman and Wonder Woman (2018-) Issue #2 31,831 49
11 X-Men Gold (2017-) Issue #24 35,008 42
12 Thanos (2016-) Issue #17 42,231 33
13 Ms. Marvel (2015-) Issue #28 13,724 145
14 Runaways (2017-) Issue #7 13,108 148
15 Green Lanterns (2016-) Issue #43 24,780 85
16 Monstress Issue #15 15,923 132
17 Aquaman (2016-) Issue #34 24,323 89
18 Star Wars: Poe Dameron (2016-) Issue #25 24,565 88
19 Kill Or Be Killed Issue #17 17,865 118
20 Doctor Strange: Damnation (2018) Issue #3 (of 4) 30,260 58

We talked a bit about the top already.  Further down we see the print orders on Avengers adjusting down to find a level, but it’s in roughly the same place on the digital chart.   Super Sons and Nightwing are likely over-performing in digital.  X-Men Gold has a history of showing up a bit lower than you’d expect, so it’s unclear if Brave & the Bold is over, under or on target in relation to print.  Thanos, however, is likely ordered a bit higher in print – that’s another one the retailers were playing catch-up on and might have some speculators around it.

Then we have two books the trolls don’t want to admit are more popular in digital.  Ms. Marvel and Runaways, two YA-targeted titles, are sitting in between titles that sell roughly double what they do in print.  Which means they are proportionally twice as popular in digital monthly than in print month.  It’s math, so pretending it doesn’t exist won’t make it go away.

Monstress and Kill or Be Killed are also over-performing in digital, but this is not unusual for the Image A-listers.

Doctor Strange: Damnation, on the other hand, is a fair bit below where it was ordered for print.  Ordering weeklies can involve some guessing, so you’ll have that now and again.

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

1 COMMENT

  1. “It’s math, so pretending it doesn’t exist won’t make it go away.”

    It’s Math For The Trump Era. You have NO digital numbers, a gross generalization about percentages of digital sales, and physical SHIPPED estimates for North America only. You mix these in a polyglot stew and then have the unmitigated nerve to say your conclusions “won’t go away.”

    That is the problem with Fake News. It doesn’t go away.

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