Comic Bestsellers

It looks like Publishers Weekly is taking a stab at the long-requested combined comic sales list. This week, they began publishing a comic bestseller list, the top ten titles for the month “compiled from data from bookstores and comics shops”.

Unsurprisingly, it’s all manga, except for The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation at #2 and Marvel’s Halo graphic novel at #10. What’s #1? Naruto Volume 11, with volumes 9 and 10 also on the list. That makes Viz the champion publisher, responsible for half the slots.

Of note also is how advanced the manga series are, with the earliest volume being 7. Looks like if you’ve got a popular series, you’re sitting pretty for a long while.


  1. Chad Anderson

    It’s not clear to me from their own description of the list: When they say “comics and graphic novels,” is that including 32-page monthlies? Or is it all TPBs, OGNs, etc.?

  2. That’s a good question that others are asking as well. I hope they’re forthcoming about their methodology soon.

  3. Ali T. Kokmen

    I imagine that the scope of PW’s bestseller list only extends to comics published in book formats–trade paperbacks and hardcovers–not the “floppy” stapled-together monthly things. PW’s typical coverage generally extends to book-formats only; I kinda doubt this best-seller list would include “floppies.”

    I note also that the BISAC Code (the book industry’s standardized alphanumeric categorization) prefix for comics is “CGN” for “Comics & Graphic Novels.” I suppose it’s possible that whomever wrote that descriptive copy for this bestseller list might’ve just reiterated that language.

    Now, what I find interesting about the list is that they say the list is compiled “from bookstores and comics shops“. There are best-seller lists that’re culled from traditional bookstores (Bookscan) and from comics stories (Diamond’s) but I can’t offhand name another one that purports to cover both markets.

    And while I, like everyone, would naturally love to know more about their methodology, I also wouldn’t hold my breath for too too many specifics. Trade secrets and all that… ;-)

  4. […] What I do have is publishing sales news, such as it is. For example: The most interesting part of this week’s Publishers Weekly Comics Week: The first in a series of monthly attempts to combine sales charts for graphic novels in bookstores and comics shops, leading to the first potentially comprehensive evidence of just how badly Japanese comics are beating the bloody stuffings out of their Western counterparts. Eight of the top ten volumes are manga, folks, even after the Direct Market is factored in. A side note: As Johanna Draper Carlson remarks, the earliest volume of any manga series on said charts is Death Note Vol. 8; it’s a good time to be publishing popular multi-volume series right now. Publishers Weekly’s chart is listed as containing the bestsellers for October, a neat trick for something posted on October 3rd — I think they mean September, but even then it’s a hard to believe, given that Diamond has yet to release its figures for that month. Where are they getting their numbers? The answer to that question will determine how reliable this chart can be treated as being, but it’s a good idea regardless. […]

  5. It’s unclear from the linked article – does this list include reprint compilations of strips from newspapers as well? Or just reprint compilations of American comic books, reprint compilations of Japanese comic books, and original graphic novels?

  6. Ali: Sure, no trade secrets, but don’t other lists say something like “from top 100 independent bookstores surveyed” or similar?

    Jer: dunno. It may depend on whether the data sources include strip compilations in their categories/lists. We may find out next month, now that the latest Peanuts book is out.

    I know the big strip book sellers used to be Dilbert and Calvin and Hobbes. Are there similar juggernauts in today’s market?

  7. The print mag should be on its way soon, I’m sure a couple of these questions will be answered. I’ll be sure to scan the page in and post it when I get mine.

  8. That would be great — please let me know when you do!

  9. Ali T. Kokmen

    Ali: Sure, no trade secrets, but don’t other lists say something like “from top 100 independent bookstores surveyed” or similar?

    Well, there are plenty of other lists that don’t provide any more detail than PW does when it says “Compiled from data received from bookstores and comics shops.” Lots of regional lists just note that they draw from a regional sample (e.g. the LA Times SoCal bestseller list just says “based on a Times poll of Southland bookstores.”) Booksense’s bestseller list is understood to reflect Booksense stores, but I don’t think their printed lists note how many of those stores the lists are built from. I don’t think USA Today’s bestseller list regularly includes any useful notes on its methodology. The New York Times list is something of an exception, as it includes very quantifiable language about drawing from “almost 4,000 bookstores plus wholesalers serving 50,000 other retailers, statistically weighted to represent all such outlets nationwide.”

    I guess I just think that what PW has already said about its methodology is equal to what many other services say about thier methods, so I’m not expecting a lot more detail. Wouldn’t mind knowing more, of course, but I’m not expecting it…

    As for whether or not the list would include strip compilations, I don’t see why it would not–provided that, as Johanna points out, the stores supplying the data count those in the category. On the “real” book side, I don’t think that’s a huge issue; the book industry has been getting better at categorizing things like Far Side, Boondocks, and Peanuts reprint books under the same broad category as it does for superhero tpbs and manga. Individual comic book stores might organize their data differently of course. But again, as Johanna points out, we may have to wait and see if a big comics-strip-reprint book is published to see if it misses the PW list when it hits some others.

  10. Thanks for sharing, Ali — I knew you knew a lot more about this than I did.

  11. […] Following up on the Publishers Weekly comic bestseller list, thanks to Jason Rodriguez, I’ve now seen an image, which I’ve posted here. […]

  12. i hate manga.
    it’s a immature.

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