Comic book and graphic novels had a dismal year in Canada and the United States. Sales decreased by 6.5% in 2017 and most of the declines were attributed to fewer people buying comics from the store or newsstand. Total comics and graphic novel sales to consumers in the U.S. and Canada generated $1.015 billion, a $70 million decrease from 2016.
When we break down the financial numbers by type, things get a little more interesting. Graphic Novels, which include comic books and manga brought in the lionshare of revenue, around $570 million. Sales of single issue comic books were about $355 million. Digital sales were approximately $90 million in 2017 and newsstands, which have declined steadily for many years, were about $10 million.
Digital sales on the surface of this report look like they are flat, but it doesn’t take into account streaming or unlimited download services. Crunchyroll Manga, Comixology Unlimited, Marvel Unlimited and other companies total download counts remain a mystery to the comic book industry.
John Jackson Miller breaks down the comic book market a few times a year and he works for Comichron. He commented “After a multiyear growth run, the comics shop market gave back some of its gains in 2017, with lackluster response to new periodical offerings and, consequently, graphic novel sales,” Miller said. “The third quarter of 2017 saw the worst of the year-over-year declines, leading into what has turned out to be a stronger spring for stores in 2018.”
I think a small dip in the market is no big deal. This is the first time that the comic and graphic novel industry declined year on year since 2011. I know many long standing comic book stores have been closing lately, since most people are buying them online or the digital versions.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.