Comic store owner “Perch” reflects on the industry’s February sales numbers

A lot of folks like to make hay out of comic book sales numbers every time new information is released. One of the more objective & insightful voices commenting on the comic book industry is Perch, an anonymous comic book shop owner who has appeared on several social media channels including the Larry King and Alterna Comics YouTube channels.

Below are Perch’s thoughts on the comic industry’s latest sales numbers for February 2019.

So what happened in February with comics? Well, you can get a lot of hard data as always from Comichron, but I’d like to offer some analysis from the ground floor and historical data. So let me lay out the high-level and then points around it.

Summary: Sales were down from the previous month (January) and down from February of last year. Despite that, 2019 is on a higher sales trajectory than 2018 during this same period thanks to a strong January. Marvel continues to dominate Unit and Market (Sales) shares.

So Is This Good Or Bad News: It’s not good news (a decline from the previous year is not a good thing) but it’s not exactly unexpected. February 2019 had fewer titles published, particularly from DC, so it’s not a surprise that numbers are down. Some might argue it’s healthy.

Wait, What Do You Mean A Decline Is Healthy: Well, even though fewer titles were produced and shipped (DC cut back, as did Image) the decline in revenue was less than the decline in shipped books. This means books that shipped sold more. This is sort of glass-half-full news.

So What Titles Sold Best: Batman. Batman dominates the sales out of the door, and if I’m being honest I find this a lot more of a problem long-term. Batman will always be a popular character, but a lot of other books seem to have hit a “glass ceiling” and aren’t growing.

Are We Living In A New Norm Of How Comics Sell: Yes it’s clear we are. We are going to see lower overall volumes of a single title and more horizontal breadth of indy and smaller books. The problem is that I don’t think the publishers or distributor knows what to do with this.

What Does This Mean To Shops: Well, your traditional brick and mortar shop can’t survive with a huge volume of lower-selling books. For evidence, I point to your average brick and mortar book store. This model doesn’t sustain a “comic book shop industry” as we know it.

How Can Shops Survive: They have to look to the brick and mortar businesses that have reinvented themselves post-Amazon. Be extremely strong on customer service. Diversify merch. Lean into pop culture and find new offerings to excite customers that go beyond the printed comic.

How Will Big Publishers Adapt: They will ultimately license out. Not while movies are hot and it’s to their benefit to control the IP closely… but soon. Spider-Man as a model with Sony is perhaps the most telling experiment going on with Disney right now. But it’s coming.

What Will March Look Like: I’ve been pretty much operating at 100% in my predictions for the last year. March 19 will be up from March 18. DC will gain a few points up but Marvel will hold the month. People will kick the can down the road about the health of the business.

You can follow Perch on his Twitter page here. Perch is not affiliated with The Splintering in any way. Reposted here with permission.

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