According to Nielsen Bookscan’s numbers, the graphic novel category is up 10% this year over 2013. As of September 14, graphic novels have sold 5,618,000 copies in 2014, up from 5,116,000 in 2013.
The number matches up with the most recent figures from Diamond Comics Distributors, which showed graphic novels up 3.81% YTD in dollars and 5.79% YTD in units.
While the increases seem to be driven by such perennial best sellers as Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Batman and The Walking Dead, Saga from Image Comics has also been a juggernaut in all channels, appearing near the top of the best seller lists month after month. The SF tale by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples has captured many new readers, according to retailers. In July, Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Seconds was another big seller.
The strength of the graphic novel category was reflected in the recent Q2 earning call for the chain Books A Million, as CEO Terry Finley said “We also saw strong growth in the graphic novel category, with continued success with titles related to AMC’s The Walking Dead series and a renewed interest in several manga series [that] drove sales increases,” as reported by business site ICv2.
Manga has had something of a comeback with the success of Kodansha’s Attack on Titan, and continuing hits Naruto and One Piece from Viz.
According to a joint study by the comics business sites Comichron and ICv2, in 2013 the comics and graphic novels business overall was $870 million, including not just graphic novels but periodical comics and digital comics as well.
Diamond figures show periodical comics up 2.4% in dollars and down 2.3% in units thus far in 2014.