In 2015, comics finally hit the $1 billion sales mark, a sign that comic sales are growing. But how do they compare to sales of other forms of media? I compare the various sales figures below.
The music industry pulled in $7.02 billion in the US in 2015, according to the New York Times. Sales have hovered around the $7 billion mark since 2010. In 2006, CD sales were $9.4 billion; they’re now at $1.5 billion, a drop of 84%.
Book sales for 2015 totaled $27.78 billion, down slightly from the previous year. I’d assume a small fraction of that includes graphic novels and trade paperbacks. This total includes ebook and audiobook sales.
Sales of video games in 2015 pulled in $16.5 billion. That’s gone up over the past several years, though not at video game sales’ 2010 high of $17.1 billion.
Newspapers pulled in $37.6 billion in 2013, the last year exact figures are available. The Newspaper Association of America has apparently stopped releasing figures, which might say something about the state of the newspaper industry.
It’s not a surprise that comics come in at a fraction of other types of media. There’s a reason that the “Big Two,” DC and Marvel, put a big emphasis on turning their comic book properties into video games, movies, and other merchandise. The revenue from those alone can easily eclipse, and make up for, comics’ comparatively smaller sales. For example, “Captain America: Civil War” pulled in $406.9 million domestically alone, and $1.151 billion globally. Granted, DC and Marvel’s comic divisions are also treated by their owners (Time Warner and Disney respectively) as intellectual property farms.
The growth in non-Big Two comic sales, of course, is a good thing. It’s a positive sign for independent and smaller press creators, who have a lot at stake fiscally and creatively in a stronger comics industry.