Combined North American sales of graphic novels and periodical comics declined about 6.5% to $1.015 billion in 2017, according to a joint estimate made by pop culture trade news sites ICv2.com and Comichron.
The overall sales decline was due to a 10% drop in the comics shop channel which was somewhat offset by only a 1% decline in sales to the bookstore market, which benefited from continuing growth in sales of children and YA graphic novels. Digital sales were flat.
Looking at sales by format in North America, sales were led by graphic novels at about $570 million while sales of periodical comic books were about $355 million. Digital sales were approximately $90 million in 2017 and newsstands, which have declined steadily for many years, were about $10 million.
2017 sales of graphic novels and comics through the comics shop market were about $500 million. Graphic novels sold via in the bookstore channel (which includes mass and specialty retail chains, online, independent bookstores, and book fairs) were about $400 million. Sales figures for print are based on the full retail price of books sold into the market, and do not account for discounting or markup. Digital sales do not include subscription services.
The 2017 sales decline ended a multi-year run of annual sales growth that began about 2011, but Milton Griepp, CEO of ICv2, said despite a soft market in 2017 there were positive signs in sales of the graphic novel format. “The relative strength in the graphic novel and digital markets, especially the growing market for kids' titles across print channels, bodes well for the future,” Griepp said.