In a promo for their new ICv2 Guide #52: Graphic Novels ICv2 offers a few stats:

…the number of graphic novels released in the North American market in 2007 was 3,314, a 19% increase over the 2,785 volumes published in 2006. All indications are that the tsunami of graphic novels will only increase in 2008, further fueling the competition for shelf space in bookstores and comic shops that one longtime graphic novel publisher described to ICv2 as ‘brutal.” The number of releases is so high that one direct market retailer admitted that he ordered all but the very top tier of manga titles “like periodicals to sell out quickly, rather than like graphic novels that we intend to keep in stock.”

Are there too many graphic novels? Not enough? Just right? What do you think, Goldilocks?


  1. Well, to put it simply, I think there are too many of the graphic novels I don’t want and not enough of the ones I do.

    DC, in particular, has a ton of material from the ’70s and ’80s that I would love to have collected into trade paperbacks (Jim Aparo’s AQUAMAN and BRAVE AND THE BOLD, SUICIDE SQUAD, FIRESTORM/FURY OF FIRESTORM, AMBUSH BUG/SON OF AMBUSH BUG, the original AMETHYST maxi-series, etc.). And I don’t know if these are being held up because of royalty issues or they’re just being overlooked in favor of current material, but I really wish DC would find a way to make these available.

  2. *whips out calculator* That’s nine a day. I could probably manage that, actually, but only if I didn’t have to work and somebody else took care of my housework. I read the first nine volumes of Transmetropolitan in one day. It… didn’t do the series any favours.

  3. Manga books are periodicals in most cases. They are sequentially numbered and come out on a regular basis. The reality is that is the way some of this material needs to be ordered. You would not expect a store to keep other periodicals in stock indefinitely. Most stores have a finite amount of display space available and choices need to be made based upon demand.

  4. For me, the problem is representation. At my local comics store as well as at the nearby Borders, the vast majority – like a good 80% – of the “graphic novels” there are superhero titles. Some are fun, some are excellent, some are lousy, but the fact is that the non-superhero graphic novels are underrepresented on the bookshelves.

  5. Three thousand new graphic novel titles is only a glut if they don’t sell through.

    And the proliferation of new GNs forces the hand of many retailers, particularly those without accounts that feature some built-in returnability, to specialize within their range of sales knowledge.

    Like all “is this many too many?” questions, the market will decide.

  6. And the distinction can be made to dvd movies as well or video games…. stores can only hold so much inventory regardless of what the actual product line is.

    So I say who cares….if they’re good, they’ll find an audience and a way to the readers.

  7. You think that is much? In France there were over four thousand! Of course, no one would want to read all that! Each person’s taste is unique and one may find uninteresting even works that everybody seems to love. Not to mention that probably 90% of all that is garbage anyway!

    The GOOD part is that there is stuff for everybody’s tastes now avaliable, while in the past only a few genres were avaliable in comics. Studies in France say that almost everyone in the country has read at least SOME comics. Maybe someday that will be true of the United States also!

    Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

  8. that’s insignificant compared to Japan’s manga production. i say bring it on, just stop the double dipping(variant covers or waiting forever for softcovers bs)

  9. > What’s “Sturgeon’s Law”?

    Attributed to science-fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon, it’s a bit of wisdom that’s usually given as “90% of everything is crap.” The exact percentage, the specific expletive, and bits of vary from time to time, but the gist is that most examples of any particular thing (books, science fiction, movies, comics, etc.) are awful; only a bit of any particular thing is actually good.

  10. ask this question to the GN buyers of Barnes & Noble, and Borders. Generally speaking, any book which is ordered into the store has three months to sell, and most of the sales are usually within that time frame. Those which do not sell are returned to make room on the shelves and in the budgets.
    Stores can also order titles, and if a title has consistent sales, it is modeled and reordered on a regular basis.
    How does this number compare to other categories? Romance? Science Fiction? Cookbooks? Fine Art?
    I want to see a graphic novel for every subject! Pottery! Dancing! Dentistry! The Boer War! So far this month I’ve read eight graphic novels (True Story…, Incognegro, Best Of Spider-Man 3, HowToons, Fantastic Four Visionaries 7, ClanDestine Classic, Astro City Local Heroes, Kampung Boy). The ninth is Ten Cent Plague, which is history, and takes longer. Quality, not quantity, is the question.