Archie Sales Figures for 2011

Archie Comics logo

Recently out, here are the Archie Comics sales figures based on the Statements of Ownership, Management, and Circulation the company is required to file in their publications. These numbers appeared in issues published between January 18 and February 15, 2012; the data was filed with the government on October 11, 2001.

(For comparison, I’ve done the same things for books published in 2010, published in 2009, published in 2008, and published in 2007.)

Before I get to the sales figures, though, I noticed a few changes in the Archie publication line while assembling these. The first is that the titles Archie & Friends, Betty, and Veronica are no longer published. (Veronica became Kevin Keller, while Betty‘s demise was rumored over a year ago.) Archie now publishes only five periodical series, and only one is monthly. That’s the flagship Archie. The magazine-format Life With Archie offers 10 issues a year, while Jughead, Betty & Veronica, and Kevin Keller come out bi-monthly, six times a year.

(Subscriptions, by the way, save you over a dollar an issue. You pay less than $2 a copy instead of the $2.99 cover price.)

Archie Comics logo

I also noticed, while flipping through the issues to find these statements, that in the latest issues, there is not a single outside advertisement. All the ads are for Archie collections, subscriptions, and their digital products. That’s a piece of revenue that they’re missing out on.

So, on to the numbers. For the single issues, these are the Total Paid and/or Requested Circulation figures that Archie files with the government. The first number is the Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months; the second is No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date.

Title Average Nearest Issue
Life With Archie 37,165 27,314
Archie 15,466 13,440
Betty & Veronica 10,918 11,511
Kevin Keller 9,731 12,327
Jughead 7,869 6,965

The Kevin Keller figures are likely using Veronica‘s sales history; the last few issues of that title ran as a Kevin Keller miniseries. Compared to last year’s figures, those numbers are better than I expected. Then, most of the periodicals sold a bit over 8,000; now, they’ve culled the low sellers, except for Jughead, to get the books over 10,000. Either Jughead will disappear soon; be revamped; or he’s someone in power’s favorite character.

However, half of the titles are showing a decline from the average to the most recent issue, with the Kevin Keller sales leap indicating interest in the company’s gay character. The recent controversy over the gay wedding in Life With Archie #16 provided a much-needed bump to counteract its falling sales figures, with the issue selling out and back issues going for inflated prices. (My favorite statement on that whole situation is Ty Templeton’s comic strip — love his caricature of Jon Goldwater.)

Looking at the Total Published (Average, 12 months) and Total Published (Nearest Issue), we see the same problem as last year.

Title Average Nearest Issue % Sold of Published (Nearest Issue)
Life With Archie 155,088 109,293 25%
Archie 40,675 39,578 34%
Betty & Veronica 24,782 27,281 42%
Kevin Keller 23,499 29,790 41%
Jughead 18,362 16,278 43%

As expected, with newsstand publishing, about 60% of the issues printed are unsold, with Life With Archie, with the widest distribution, having the worst ratio. This is expected but costs the company money.

Let’s look at digests. Last year they eliminated the single digests, so these are all double digests, which cost $3.99.

Title Average Nearest Issue
Archie 70,860 62,809
Betty & Veronica 67,719 63,316
World of Archie 57,850 52,997
Archie & Friends 57,188 53,502
Jughead 55,651 52,333
Betty & Veronica Friends 50,512 48,925

As expected, the digests outsell the issues by about five to one. But last year, the top-selling digest, Archie Double Digest, was selling 85-95,000 copies an issue. This year, it’s declined greatly. Betty & Veronica Double Digest was selling 72-80,000 copies an issue and has a similar reduction. And they’re having to print 150,000 copies apiece to get these sales, with almost 2/3 of the print run going unsold.

Title Average Nearest Issue % Sold of Published (Nearest Issue)
Archie 178,353 169,914 37%
Betty & Veronica 178,895 150,608 42%
World of Archie 153,560 141,695 37%
Archie & Friends 147,633 141,061 38%
Jughead 150,329 144,732 36%
Betty & Veronica Friends 131,285 129,290 38%

Last, here’s the title ranking, best- to worst-selling, based on nearest issue figures.

  1. Betty & Veronica Double Digest
  2. Archie Double Digest
  3. Archie & Friends Double Digest
  4. World of Archie Double Digest
  5. Jughead Double Digest
  6. Betty & Veronica Friends Double Digest
  7. Life With Archie
  8. Archie
  9. Kevin Keller
  10. Betty & Veronica
  11. Jughead

Compared to last year, the two top spots switched, but that’s likely a statistical fluke, since the year’s average sales show Archie Double Digest on top. Also last year, Life With Archie outsold the lowest-selling digest; this year, it’s twenty thousand below that mark. I suspect its appeal wore off quickly among the casual newsstand reader, as they lost the celebrity tie-in articles and the storyline became more convoluted and harder to follow. The declining magazine-format sales may explain why Veronica & Betty, a second magazine announced a year-and-a-half ago, has never appeared.

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