Flash Sales in March & April

After six solid months in the top 10, The Flash dropped down to the #11 spot in March and #14 in April in the rankings based on units sold. Not coincidentally, March featured the launch of Marvel’s Avengers vs. X-Men event, and a number of related Marvel books pushed aside the better sellers of DC’s New 52. (The Flash was still DC’s #8 book.)

Estimates at ICv2 have the series selling 64,975 issues in March and 63,702 issues in April.

On the downside, the book is selling half what it sold last September. On the plus side, it’s still ahead of the 53K mark it had reached at this point in the previous volume. Better yet, those month-to-month drops are getting smaller, suggesting that it may find its level soon. I’ve suggested before that if it levels out above 55K (where volume 3 settled), the Flash relaunch is probably a success. Though it may be cutting things a bit close.

Update: Christopher Schmitt brings up digital numbers, which I forgot to look for. CBR has been running monthly interviews with Bob Wayne & John Cunningham in which they discuss the month’s sales, including DC’s own digital rankings (but not actual numbers, which most companies are still keeping quiet about). I’ve mentioned before that The Flash doesn’t rank as well digitally, where it hasn’t even made it into DC’s top 10 yet (here’s March). DC released their April Top 20,** and Flash came in at #18 digitally, compared to #8 in print if you look only at DC’s output.

Numbers

Issue Rank Month Units Sold % Change
Flash vol.4
Flash v.4 #1 4 September 2011 129,260
Flash v.4 #2 5 October 2011 114,137 -11.7%
Flash v.4 #3 9 November 2011 90,417 -20.8%
Flash v.4 #4 8 December 2011 77,336 -14.5%
Flash v.4 #5 8 January 2012 71,611 -7.4%
Flash v.4 #6 8 February2012 68,061 -5.0%
Flash v.4 #7 11 March 2012 64,975 -4.5%
Flash v.4 #8 11 April 2012 63,702 -2.0%

A few key articles covering past sales (with lots of numbers):

*What these numbers measure: US-only sales, wholesale from Diamond to comics retailers. They don’t count sales through bookstores, they don’t count international sales, and they don’t count how many copies were actually bought and read…but they do measure the same thing every month, which means they can be used to spot trends.

**It’s not clear how comparable the rankings are, since Diamond’s rankings are for sales over the whole month, and DC’s digital chart here is described as “Best Selling Single issue in a week.” Though since The Flash comes out the fourth week of the month, there probably isn’t much difference.

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9 thoughts on “Flash Sales in March & April

  1. Christopher Schmitt

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but these numbers don’t include digital sales– which I think are a lot better then print sales.

    Reply
    1. Kelson Post author

      Yes and no.

      You’re right that these numbers don’t include digital sales, but unless they’ve really taken off in the last couple of months, digital sales of new comics are still a lot smaller than print sales. Additionally, Flash ranks higher in print than in digital for some reason. DC has been posting their own top 10 digital comics, and Flash hasn’t even ranked within DC’s top 10.

      I went back to confirm this and found an article that includes April’s digital rankings. DC’s top 20 is there, and Flash comes in at #18.

      Reply
    2. Kelson Post author

      Still looking for an updated ballpark figure on relative digital/print sales, but I did find this interesting: according to Eric Stephenson, Image’s digital sales are small, but a “double digit percentage” of their total sales. I’d expect that percentage to be higher for Image than for Marvel or DC for a couple of reasons:

      1. Marvel & DC have a much stronger presence in print comic shops. I keep hearing about stores that only stock Marvel/DC, or only stock the big two plus a few major sellers from other publishers. That means many people who want to buy Image comics have to choose between mail order, traveling long distances to get to another store, or buying digitally. (Or pirating.)
      2. By and large, Marvel/DC readers seem to be traditionalists. Look at all the “bring back ____” campaigns. The backlash against the New 52. Resistance to costume changes, or changes in general. Heck, the fact that the top sellers are mostly characters created more than 50 years ago. I’d guess if you compared mostly-DC/Marvel readers to mostly-indie readers, you’d find that a higher percentage of DC/Marvel readers would rather stick with print comics on the principle that digital comics just don’t feel like comics.

      Reply
      1. Christopher Schmitt

        While only small double digit percentage, I would think the profit margins are better for digital comics, too, than print comics.

        Have you found a report with hard numbers? I’m not a fan of top 20 lists as I feel that is, really, nothing to go on.

        With knowing the actual numbers of digital sales, I would also like to know what issues are keeping them from publishing them.

        Reply
          1. Christopher Schmitt

            Looking at a bottom line approach: If 10% of 5 million downloads go to DC Comics at .99 cent per an issue and taking away Apple’s 30% cut (not including direct sales from web), I’ve come to a $346,500 in digital sales for the month.

            That number doesn’t really mean anything except, I hope, a very bottom number of what DC Comics could be pulling in.

            Reply
  2. kyer

    Marvel and their successful bi-weekly printing, the anticipation and (fulfillment of that anticipation regarding the Avengers movie plus the much-anticipated Spiderman release.) Yeah Marvel is on a roll. Even I who used to eschew that line save for some of the movies now have a few hardcovers of their older Avengers books. In fact, all I’ve been buying of late are reprints of West Coast Avengers despite that I’m disappointed they’ve moved aside (but not shelved and discounted!) my favorite character there.

    Their hardover quality also blows away DC’s.

    With DC…they just are not selling what I want or have mutilated what I used to want with newbie-fresh gusto.

    Digital…the idea of not being able to save to hard drive my purchases (renting?) of comics puts me off something major. Also disenchanted with the problems I read now and then with purchases disappearing and calls to their tech support. I’ve also seen how diminished the quality of scans are from a digital source so, yeah, digital is not endearing itself to me despite the fact that digital would solve a great many of my difficulties in procuring printed material.

    Damn pity of it is that I always preferred Superman & Co. over Xmen and Spiderman. Maybe when Didio gets a heart and Warner gets a brain I’ll return whole-heartedly to OZ and it will all be wizard again.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Schmitt

      I have misgivings over digital comics, but it’s a lot easier for me to read comics on a digital device or desktop and have it stored in the cloud instead of taking residence in my house.

      Reply
  3. married guy

    While I understand the appeal of digital comics, and love the idea that you can store literally thousands of books & take up no storage space, I’m an old fart who just prefers reading something on paper. I’m not a big fan of reading off a screen.

    Reply

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