Anything We Can Sell You Can Sell Better

The end of the year being the designated time to compare completely useless information, I thought I'd do just that and see how MacGuffin's best seller list compares to Diamond's sales figures. It should make for ridiculously inaccurate comparisons and spurious analysis. The caveats:

A- I'm comparing apples and oranges here, sell-in (to stores) vs. sell through (to readers).
B- We're a small store in terms of sales volume
C- Diamond's numbers are not the actual end of year sales figures. They are a sum of reported sales for the year (not including December). In order for the sales on a title to be reported, they must be in the top 100 for the month, which means selling roughly 1000 copies in a month. A title like Watchmen made the list in 9 months but likely sold some unreported copies in the other months. And now, on with the show.

Best Selling Titles (by unit)

#1: V for Vendetta (Diamond - 30,600) vs. Fables Vol. 1 Legends in Exile (MacGuffin)
These are both older titles that topped the sales charts due to marketing tie-ins. V for Vendetta, obviously bolstered by the release of the film, dominated Diamond's sales charts, selling 1/3 more units than its closest competitor. Add to this the fact that DC offered a consignment program wherein a store could order as many copies as it would like and return them if unsold, paying only freight both ways. In fact, I wasn't able to determine if the numbers listed by Diamond for February and March 2006 included those consignment copies or only copies ordered non-returnable since I would venture to guess that at least some stores took advantage of the opportunity to return unsold copies (MacGuffin was not one of these since we did very well with V for Vendetta and had no copies ordered on consignment to return). A similar promotion led to the first volume of Fables topping our sales charts for the year. As I mentioned elsewhere, we gave away a $.25 promotional reprint of the first issue of Fables a few months ago and since then we've seen once solid sales of the Fables trades go through the roof (to the point where we had difficulty keeping the whole series in stock until recently). Meanwhile, as I said, MacGuffin did well selling V for Vendetta as it placed 3rd on our list while Fables Volume 1 placed 68 on Diamond's list with sales of 5,300 copies reported.
#2: Marvel Zombies HC (Diamond - 22,500) vs. Serenity (MacGuffin)
Marvel Zombies was certainly a bit of a unexpected phenomenon for Marvel, huh? On top of that, there was a one month stretch shortly after the initial release when the first printing was unavailable for reorder, otherwise I have a feeling this would have sold-in even better. While successful, it didn't do as well here, finishing as our 18th best seller a few spots behind Kirkman's Walking Dead. As for Serenity (which popped up at #10 on Diamond's list with 14,100 sold), this is another reason why MacGuffin loves Joss Whedon.
#3: Halo HC (Diamond - 19,900) vs. V for Vendetta (MacGuffin)
While clearly a huge success, you'd think that Halo would outsell Marvel Zombies (it certainly did here) but these numbers don't take into account bookstore sales where a book like this likely thrived. Still, it's exactly the kind of crossover success I love to see for an original graphic novel, even when it comes from Marvel.
#4: Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall (Diamond - 19,500) vs. Halo HC (MacGuffin)
Another original graphic novel in the top five, which I will erroneously take to mean that the format is finding traction in the direct market, so long as it is published by Marvel or DC/Vertigo. 1001 Nights of Snowfall fared surprisingly poorly at MacGuffin (#58 on the year) which I am going to attribute to the fact that we were too busy introducing readers to the beginning of the series to push the hardcover. Or something.
#5: Y: The Last Man Vol. 7 Paper Dolls (Diamond - 16,400) vs. Star Wars Clone Wars Adventures Vol. 1 (MacGuffin)
This place on Diamond's list is actually occupied by Family Guy v.1, but it's inclusion on the graphic novel list is completely arbitrary and I decided to make an arbitrary stance of my own and limit these lists to those titles with over 90 pages). We've had huge success with the Clone Wars Adventures series. Unfortunately, these books (along with other Dark Horse titles like Serenity) are often out of print, significantly limiting their sales potential. Thankfully this volume has been kept at much better stock levels. Volume 1 did not chart at Diamond this year, but volume 6 came in at #50 on Diamond's charts for the year with 5,900 copies. Paper Dolls, meanwhile, was our lowest charting volume of Y: The Last Man in a tie for #93.
#6: House of M (Diamond - 16,200) vs. House of M (MacGuffin)
The only time that a title occupied the same rank on both lists, and despite poor reviews and fan outrage, it continues to sell here (at least a copy a month) and via Diamond (including 1,900 copies in November).
#7: Walking Dead Vol. 1 Days Gone Bye (Diamond - 16,000) vs. Fables Vol. 2 Animal Farm (MacGuffin)
Kirkman + zombies is clearly a winning combination in the direct market and at MacGuffin where the first volume came in at #11. This is one of the few series where the first volume was released prior to 2006 but that first volume still ranked highest on Diamond's year end list. Certainly bodes well for the long term potential of the series.
#8: Watchmen (Diamond - 15,200) vs. Naruto Vol. 1 (MacGuffin)
Perennial seller Watchmen keeps chugging along. Although it says something about this industry that two of the bestselling titles in the direct market this (and just about every) year are both twenty years old (Watchmen finished #17 at MacGuffin). And a manga title pokes its head up at MacGuffin, where the first volume of Naruto (did not chart at Diamond) outsold some entire series. Until recently Naruto was the only series (manga or otherwise) that was worthwhile for us to stock the entire series at least two copies deep, although we haven't seen much movement on the recently released Vol. 12.
#9: Pride of Baghdad HC (Diamond - 14,700) vs. Runaways vol. 1 (MacGuffin)
Brian K. Vaughan versus himself here. Pride of Baghdad is a book that should have some significant legs, although after a huge debut it dropped off quite a bit at Diamond. Even so, I suspect it will continue to sell well in hardcover over the next year and then we'll see another big jump with the paperback release. Runaways, meanwhile, is a series that we do well with but which only seems to chart at Diamond in the month or so after the release of a new volume. I'm very curious to see if Whedon's run leads to renewed interest in the early volumes.
#10: Serenity (Diamond - 14,100) vs. Pride of Baghdad (MacGuffin)
See above.

I have a few more thoughts that I'll hopefully get around to posting before the end of the year (including a list of my own personal favorites from 2006).


Blogger ZZ said...

oops...happy new year

12:26 PM  

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