Total sales of graphic novels rose 5% in 2008, to $395 million, the genre’s slowest growth rate since 2001, according to the annual ICv2 report on the market delivered last week by firm CEO Milton Griepp, just before the start of New York Comic-Con. The decline was due to a 17% drop in manga sales, which fell to $175 million. Griepp blamed the smaller rate of overall growth on the economic downturn’s impact on bookstores and the closing of mall chain stores, as well as a reduction in inventory by Borders. Griepp also pointed to the reduced presence of anime on cable TV and competition from the blockbuster popularity of both the book and movie version of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight—“Teen girls spent a lot of money on Twilight, rather than manga,” Griepp noted.

The total number of graphic novels published last year was 3,464, with the number of manga titles down 9%. The number of American genre comics rose about 6%.

2007 2008 % Change
Manga $210 $175 -17%
Other Graphic Novels 165 220 33
Total 375 395 5
Traditional Comics 330 320 -3
Total, Graphic Novels/Comics 705 715 1.5