Is This The Collapse Of The Direct Market? (No)

Nothing like a bit of overblown hype to start an article. But so many people have been predicting this for years. Is this now a sign that it may be actually happening?

Recent numbers issued by Diamond Comic Distributors with statistical anaylsis from ICV2 do not paint a pretty picture.

At one end in the direct market, we see no single comic book hitting six figures in overall orders. And while there is often dispute over the figures used, lacking in non North American figures and statistical errors introduced through limited raw data, they do indicate trends well. And trends right now are down for August comic books. Most of the big books see sales fall and the best seller, Blackest Night, came in at only an estimated 93K in orders.

Combined with this is a seeming collapse of the trade paperback market. ICV2 observe that Scott Pilgrim Vol 6 is the number one book, on sales less than 40% of what it achieved the previous month. If it had performed at August figures in July, it would have been fifth, not first.

Of course the other explanation is much less sensationalist. Just that there were just no big ticket items in August. Figures for comics weren’t too far off from the previous month, the big difference was that the first issue or X-Men slipped from 140K to 70K for its second issue. And August didn’t see a Blackest Night hardcover, a BN: Green Lantern hardcover or a new Walking Dead book to top the charts. And reduced sales of other books, is just regular attrition that a revamped #1, a big crossover or a hot creative team will help bump at a later date. Just not in August.

So be warned of sensationalist headlines (like this one). This is not the imminent collapse of the comic shop. It’s just another one of the thousand cuts…