Updated on December 10, 2021
Websites Comichron and ICv2 have released their annual joint report on how comic sales are doing.
Unfortunately, sales are down overall for 2017 versus 2016, with a drop of 6.5%. However, it’s still a billion dollar industry, with $1.015 billion in sales, a $70 billion drop from 2016.
2017 comic sales information
Here’s several graphics by Comichron/ICv2 summarizing sales figures for 2017.
The usual clarification:
- Information is based on estimated or actual sales figures.
- “Book channel” include sales from bookstores (like Barnes and Noble), online stores like Amazon, as well as Scholastic book fairs. Library purchases and digital subscription services (like Marvel Unlimited) aren’t included.
Below, I break down each category’s statistics in terms of percentages. Note all percentages have some rounding.
Here’s each channel’s share of comic market sales:
- Comic stores: 50.7%
- Book channel: 39.4%
- Digital download: 8.9%
- Newsstand: 1%
Here’s each comic format’s share of sales:
- Graphic novels: 56.2%
- Comic books: 35%
- Digital comics: 8.9%
Here’s the change in sales (since 2016) for each channel:
- Comic stores: -9.6%
- Book channel: -1.2%
- Digital download: 0%
- Newsstand: -50%
Finally, here’s the change in sales (since 2016) for each format:
- Graphic novels: -3.4%
- Comic books: -12.3%
- Digital comics: 0%
Most of the sales drop in 2017 came from sizable declines in comic shop sales and traditional “floppy” comic book sales. Comic shop sales were down by almost 10%, while comic book sales dropped by 12%. I note that comic shop sales are now barely half of all comic sales, down from 53% in 2016 (and 58.6% four years ago). At this rate, it might be as soon as next year it’s reported that the majority of comic sales don’t occur through comic book shops.
On the plus side, book channel sales held on fairly well, with just a 1% drop from 2016. Graphic novel sales also didn’t experience the double-digit drop comics did, with only a 3% decline instead. This might tie into the strength of graphic novel and trade paperback sales overall, as they now make up 56% of all comic sales (up from 54% in 2016). The traditional single-issue paper comic now only makes up a little over a third of comic sales (down from about 42% four years ago).
Digital sales are completely flat yet again; however, it’s the only format that didn’t experience any sales decline. This doesn’t mean digital’s unpopular—the figures don’t reflect digital subscription services (like Marvel Unlimited), or digital books through public libraries (Hoopla, Overdrive, etc.). Though I do wonder if those might cut into digital sales; in my case, I’ve been using Hoopla and Marvel Unlimited a lot for comic reading.
Newsstand sales cratered even more than they already have, dropping 50% from 2016. This is presumably from DC Comics finally (and quietly) ending newsstand sales around last August. The only major comics left on newsstands are Archie (I still see their digests at drugstores, supermarkets, and Barnes and Noble) and a few smaller companies such as Bongo. Yes, DC’s trying to sell comics through Walmart; while that’s worthwhile, I’m not sure how much of a change it’ll make in newsstand sales.
“Graphic Novels” by morebyless is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Flickr / cropped from original)