ComicHub, a point of sale system that collects sales data from comics shops, has reached an agreement to supply POS data on graphic novel and comics sales to NPD BookScan, the POS system that tracks about 80% of U.S. book market sales. The agreement was announced at the ComicsPro Breakfast panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2019.

While independent and chain bookstores use POS systems to collect sales data, direct market comics shops—about 2,000 stores that buy stock nonreturnable at wholesale from Diamond Comics Distributors—generally do not. Direct market comics shop sales data is sell-in (what the store buys for inventory) not sell-through (what consumers purchase). The new ComicHub agreement marks the first time comics shops will be able to supply POS sales data directly to BookScan.

NPD BookScan executive director of business development Kristen McLean, said, “We are thrilled to be working with ComicHub. Local comic shops are one of the last areas of independent book sales that we don’t yet capture in BookScan, and we think it is one of the most important, given the high growth were seeing in Comics and Graphic Novels, particularly for kids.”

Under the agreement, reporting ComicHub stores will also have access to weekly BookScan reports on local and overall U.S. book trade sales, not just sales from comics shops..

Currently, ComicHub is used by about 70 stores that are now reporting to BookScan said Atom Freeman, a ComicHub spokesperson. The service has about 38,000 consumers that use the app in four countries. For retailers, Freeman said ComicHub is “inexpensive to use. There’s a $400 installation fee and $150 monthly service fee.”

Freeman said that out of the roughly 2,000 direct market stores in the U.S, only about 600 of them use any kind of POS system. Freeman emphasized that ComicHub allows comics publishers “to see sell-through data as well as orders.”

"In today’s market publishers have to be able to look at initial sales and make projections about how a series will sell. Our mission is to use all of the data available to create a stronger Direct Market in the brick and mortar comics shops,” Freeman said.

ComicHub Offers Data Collection and a Consumer App

The ComicHub POS system was developed by comics retailer and former software developer Stu Colson. ComicHub is a suite of software tools for POS data collection, but it is also a consumer facing app that allows fans to buy and archive their purchases.

ComicHub offers POS retailer data collection, inventory management, a customer app (web, iOS and Android), website, a publisher portal, and email marketing. The consumer app allows fans to buy comics from preferred retailers (who can collect the data), and create shelves of past purchases and favorite titles. The publisher portal allows publishers see in real time if their titles are selling or the impact of marketing campaigns.

Retailers can order titles directly from publishers via ComicHub, and the software will upload the new title info to their inventories automatically. Using ComicHub’s email marketing feature, Colson said, retailers can target consumers based on their purchasing history and the email can be designed to look like it came from a local retailer.

Colson, owner of the Heroes for Sale comics shop in Auckland, New Zealand, said that around 2012 he became “frustrated with the comics data and predictive sales tools available to a comics shops.” So he wrote an early version of the software to use at his store. “I started thinking it could be an industry solution.” Shortly after that He and his wife set up a development company in India to create the software and the system launched in 2017.