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Hot Diggity, Data

It’s the happiest day of the year for a numbers nerd like me who is fond of being proved right. Start, if you will by taking a look at something we talked about last year, and in years before that. Those posts refer to the annual numbers that Brian Hibbs (hero LCS owner) compiles for Heidi Mac at The Beat on what graphic novels sell according to Bookscan’s numbers. Data, baby!

Obligatory reminder: Bookscan doesn’t reach into comic shops, libraries, or book fairs. That’ll be important later, as we remind ourselves of something else:

Raina Telgemeier remains the most important person in comics.

In calendar year 2017, when she did not have a new book, she sold (and this doesn’t count libraries, or comics shops, or school book fairs) at least US$11.6 million dollars worth of graphic novels, at least 487,000 copies of her original graphic novels, at least one million books when you include her Baby Sitters Club efforts.

Want to see something more impressive? I’m going to look at Sisters, because I kept numbers for 2014, and 2016 from those earlier posts. In 2014, when Sisters was new, she sold 176,197 copies (in four months, because it wasn’t released until the end of August). In 2016, when it was two years old, she sold 166,124 copies. In 2017, three years old, she sold 147,889 copies. That’s scarcely any taper off! Comics shop owners will tell you the drop from issue #1 of a series to issue #2 is minimum 40%. Over three years later, she’s selling fully 84% as much as when it was new!

Let’s look at the other numbers for her original work, 2014, 2016, 2017:

  • Smile: 150K, 188K, 160K
  • Drama: 94K, 213K, 178K
  • Ghosts: (not released), 213K (four months only), 180K

I like that bump in Drama; new book means new readers who are discovering her older work. And should I mention that Smile was released in 2010? These books are never going to go out of print. Never.

This is why she broke the New York Times Best Seller List so hard that they stopped reporting on graphic novels rather than just rename it for her. This is why every neckbeard that whines about “diversity” ruining comics doesn’t know shit. Comics purchases are dominated by younger readers, all-ages topics, bound books. The first floppy comic book that shows up on the list for 2017 is Saga (which is great, mind you), and it sold … 45K. It’s in 29th place on the list¹.

It’s basically a rounding error in Raina’s sales because guess where Saga isn’t selling? The Scholastic book fairs held in elementary schools across the country. Guess where book fair coordinators are ordering Raina’s books by the case. And guess what’s not included in the Bookscan numbers.

This is why she owns six of the top twenty slots by dollar total. It’s why she owns eight of the top twenty slots by copies sold. It’s why the entire top twenty list is dominated by women, and why other top twenty books are Raina-alike stories (which is to say, following the same growing up travails stories that she pioneered in the GN space).

And this is why I whould like to humbly remind Raina that when she bestrides the worlds of comics publishing, YA publishing, and whatever the hell else she feels like bestriding, that some of us were behind her from the very beginning and would serve well in her new, benevolent regime.

All hail.

Spam of the day:

You probably don’t remember me, but I know you and have something to show you.

Somebody I don’t remember wants to give me secret information worth US$250,000! Is it because I’ve got an inside track on the new regime? I bet that’s why.

¹ And this is great: the anti-diversity CHUDs are very fond of claiming that Marvel’s sales are down because too many of their books feature characters that aren’t straight, white, manly mens, and first Marvel title on the list is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Black Panther, the first three volumes of which add up to a total of 55K copies sold. It’s a triple shot of schadenfreude — superheroes don’t sell, the best seller is as far from what the CHUDs want as you can get, and the numbers are from before the movie released and will only be higher next year.

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