An Appeal To Diamond To Stop Counting Free Overship Orders In Their Monthly Sales Stats

I was given a dressing down by an actual comics journalist over my previous report over how Marvel games comics industry marketshare as reported by Diamond Comic Distributor's charts. Not for uncovering and examining the information, but the way it was provided. I was asked to do better. Maybe include something visual.

Okay. I'll try. This was the article in question, which tried to show how Marvel giving out free comics affects their marketshare and their position on Diamond's monthly charts.

Because the free comics do affect Marvel's unit share standing, if not their dollar share standing. And it affects the position those comics have in the monthly charts.

But how?

Unit share reflects the amount of comics ordered by comic stores. Dollar share reflects how much they pay for them. So a $2.99 comic that sells the same as a $3.99 comic contributes less dollar share but the same unit share. Look at the most recent Diamond charts, November 2016.


The first column is the unit share chart number of the comic in question, the second is the dollar share. So Batman #10 sold the most issues, but Civil War II #7 brought in the most money – because one cost $2.99 and the other was $4.99.

I'm losing you again, aren't I? If you are still with me, let's see how overship changes things. Just so you know, IVX #0, Mosaic #2 and Great Lakes Avengers #2 received large overships by Marvel to stores. The other comics mentioned below did not. Let's see what happens.


That's a massive change. Both comics cost the same. But Avengers #1, fifth place for the amount of money brought is below IVX #0 in the amount of "sales". Because IVX #0 had a 50% overship. So what else got an overship?


Note how Mosaic #2 "sold" about as many copies as All-New X-Men #15? And that Great Lakes Avengers "sold" about as many copies as Doctor Strange #2? But both brought in much much less revenue. And that's the overship.

There are examples of this across the chart, but as it stands, restricted to the few comics that Marvel overships.

We have it confirmed, all the Marvel superhero titles in January will receive a 10% overship. So on the January 2017 chart, yes, it will increase both the position of all the Marvel titles on the chart but the overall unit marketshare as well. And because the comics are all $3.99 and $4.99 they'll win the dollar marketshare too…

So, this is a call to Diamond. Just as you discount the rating for comics made returnable, by 10%, to take into account likely returns – just like you don't include comics that cost less than a dollar in the chart, like the recent Red Sonja #0, just like you wouldn't allow the compensated-for orders of Cowboys And Aliens to count towards the graphic novel chart when I pointed it out – consider not including the overship copies in unit sales.

This is not a new thing, or a blip. The practice comes and goes, but Bleeding Cool has been calling it out since 2012. Again and again.

The practice should still continue, if retailers want it to, it encourages retailers to recognise they might be a greater demand for certain titles than they realised, and it gives stores the opportunity to engage in sampling activity to grow their sales, it might even give retailers an increase sales blip. But it will no longer warp the statistics and record something as a sale when it's just a comic given to a comic store for free.

But that also means that Marvel won't be able use the charts internally at Disney to show just how well they are doing. That's the thing, as previously shown, Marvel would still dominate the monthly comic store statistic –  just not as much.

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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