Continuing our look at how the Comixology sales ranks relate to the Diamond print estimates, here’s how things looked last week.

The initial methodology is to compare the current issue on the Comixology top 20 chart (issues pulled the evening of 3/4) with the last issue we have print sales estimates for, usually this is from the Comichron January chart, but the last issue of Saga was several months ago, so that number is in a different context from the rest.

The conventional wisdom that’s been handed down over the last few years is that the digital audience has more of less the same reading habits as the Direct Market Print audience.  I’ve had multiple publishers tell me that digital sales of new issues are roughly 10-15% of print sales and the titles more or less have the same proportional popularity in digital as in print.  Maybe a couple titles switch places on the sales ranking list, but largely the same.  The bestsellers on the newsstand were not always the same bestsellers as in the Direct Market, so it doesn’t seem like that should necessarily be the case with digital.  There will be a little bit of mismatch because these are more weekly than monthly ranks and it isn’t clear exactly how Comixology defines the reporting periods, but if you look at comics sales, you learn to live with the data available.

Tomorrow I’ll start doing the comparisons between the January weekly ranks and the actual January Diamond estimates.

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Until then, let’s see what we can learn about this week’s comics.

Comixology Rank Issue Previous Issue Print Sales Est. Previous Issue Diamond Rank
1 Saga Issue #49 39,826
2 The Terrifics (2018-) Issue #1
3 Detective Comics (2016-) Issue #975 53,024 14
4 Darth Vader (2017-) Issue #12 53,420 13
5 Action Comics (2016-) Issue #998 41,331 34
6 The Flash (2016-) Issue #41 49,595 19
7 Injustice 2 (2017-) Issue #47 Digital First
8 Avengers (2016-) Issue #682 37,403 42
9 Invincible Iron Man (2016-) Issue #597 29,540 66
10 Wonder Woman (2016-) Issue #41 36,269 48
11  Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps (2016-) Issue #39 28,655 71
12  Teen Titans (2016-) Issue #17 28,722 70
13  Black Panther (2016-) Issue #170 21,321 106
14  X-Men Blue (2017-) Issue #22 32,540 57
15 Jessica Jones (2016-) Issue #17 17,658 122
16 Rat Queens (2017-) Issue #8 9,210 185
17 Thanos (2016-) Issue #16 22,743 99
18 All-New Wolverine (2015-) Issue #31 24,933 92
19 Doctor Strange (2015-) Issue #386 25,652 85
20 Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War Prelude (2018) Issue #2 (of 2) 9,486 180

It’s a little hard to put an exact number on Saga.  The last issue was ordered into the DM at just 40k, but that’s been a few months and we’ve seen Image’s A-list titles showing up higher on the list, making it seem likely that they sell a higher percentage of the print distribution in digital than DC and Marvel do.  But Saga’s a big book and does well in digital, regardless of circumstance, so it being slotted at #1 shouldn’t be a surprise.

What is a mild surprise is The Terrifics showing up at #2 above Detective Comics.  Detective usually sells in the low 50Ks, so we have to ask ourselves whether this is reflecting retailers ordering accurately (i.e. selling through) on order of perhaps 55K-60K, increased digital sales because of retailers under-order (see: Mister Miracle) or there’s just a higher digital demand?

Bottom line, there’s interest in The Terrifics and it seems to be the healthiest New Age of Heroes launch for DC – by a lot.

Action is a little higher on the pecking order than you’d normally see in print, but is that a Zod storyline talking or Superman being slightly more popular with the digital audience?

Bendis, who’s having an eventful 2018 to say the least, has both Invincible Iron Man and Jessica Jones showing up a bit higher than you might expect.  Is his departure from Marvel and all the publicity around taking over the Superman line raising his Marvel sales on the way out the door?  Could be.  And there could be some Jessica Jones interest bubbling up with the new season around the corner.

Black Panther seems to be charting a little higher.  Not hugely higher, but there is a popular movie out and this is a title that might do slightly better digitally in the first place.

What I was just saying about those A-list Image titles showing up higher on the digital charts?  Point in case: Rat Queens in the #16 slot next to books that got ordered double or more into the DM.  Does Rat Queens enjoy a dis-proportionally large audience outside the DM?  Possibly.  Could be that a lot of stores just don’t stock it and the 1-2 customers interested find it easier to go online.  But it sure is interesting where it charts.

And finally, another anomaly.  The Infinity War Prelude in the #20 slot.  These movie tie-in comics are an afterthought for most of the DM audience.  In digital?  It’s outselling ChampionsPeter Parker, Mera and JLA.  Like Rat Queens, when we see the final numbers, it’s likely selling proportionally twice as well  in digital as print.  And that’s interesting.

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

2 COMMENTS

  1. After seeing a few of these weekly comparisons now, it does seem like there is some logic to the digital/print comparison. Looking at the print sales for each title, they mostly follow a decreasing sales order. So for the most part, it does seem like digital readers have the buying habits of print readers – just in a different medium. Then there seem to be “rogue” series that are probably read by people who only read that series or have never been print readers. I’ll probably plot a few of these weekly numbers to see if a line of best fit provides any revelations.

    Random thought: what if the Comixology bestseller list is dominated by the automatic purchases of digital subscribers? It’s conceivable that a majority of first week digital sales are automatic purchases made on day one. Otherwise, wouldn’t there be weeks where some book like the previous issue of Batman made it on the list again? And if the bestseller list is dominated by impulse buys, what is to stop an independent book from becoming a viral bestseller in its first week? Are there instances of random bestsellers? Without print sales estimates, presumably the Terrifics #1 is a random bestseller.

  2. IIRC, Doomsday Clock and Critical Role have popped up in the top 20 the next week. You will see some previous week titles further down on the list. Digital subscriptions could be part of it, though.

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