Milton Griepp, publisher of the pop culture trade news site, ICv2.com, reported that 2009 graphic novel sales in the U.S. and Canada declined 6%, to $370 million. In his annual white paper on the comics and graphic novel marketplace, Griepp said that 2009 sales of manga, usually the strongest category of graphic novels sales, were $140 million, a decline of 20% from 2008. This is the second year in a row in which the category has shown a decline.
Sales of comics periodicals also declined, falling 3%, to $310 million, for combined comics and graphic novels sales in 2009 of $680 million, a total decline of 5% from 2008. While manga sales declined, superhero titles held their own, although total sales of graphic novels edged past sales of comics periodicals. Book-format comics now represent 54% of the combined sales of graphic novels and periodicals.
Griepp attributed the overall declines in graphic novel sales to the ongoing effects of the general economic downturn, the closing of stores by Barnes & Noble and Borders, and more selective buying by retailers and fans. “Book chains have reduced their inventory and the number of places to buy graphic novels have declined,” he said.
Retailers are convinced that scanlations—English translations of unlicensed manga posted online by fans—are undermining manga sales, Griepp noted. He projects continued declines in 2010 and said the numbers of young female readers, who have been big consumers of shojo (or girls') manga, continued to decline, and new readers were not following them into the category.
The total number of graphic novel titles released in 2009 dropped 9%, to 3,162 titles. There were 1,115 manga titles released (down from 1,372 in 2008), and a 17% increase in superhero titles released, to 1,580. Among the bestselling graphic novels of 2009 were R. Crumb's Book of Genesis Illustrated, David Mazzucchelli's Asterios Polyp, Robert Kirkman's Walking Dead, Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim, Logicomix: An Epic Searchfor Truth, and Ray Bradbury's graphic novel adaptation of Fahrenheit 451.
Graphic Novels and Comics Periodicals Sales 2007–2009 ($ in millions)
|2007||2008||2009||% Chge 2007-2009|
|Source: Sales figures courtesy of ICv2.com|
|Other Graphic Novels||165.0||220.0||230.0||39|
|Total Graphic Novel||375.0||395.0||370.0||-1|