So how did graphic novels sell during 2020? Publisher's Weekly reports that print books as a whole saw sales numbers in North America rise 8.2% in 2020, selling 750.9 million copies, up from 693.7 million the year before. And the largest annual increase since 2010. While many bookstores were in shutdown, online sales took over to ramp up sales, especially with more and more people staying home looking for reading matter and unable to visit libraries.
Non-fiction books for the young also received a big boost as many schools closed for long periods, with a 23.1% increase sales. But graphic novels were had one of the most significant increases, which saw sales increase by 29% in 2020, based on 2019.
Notably, Dav Pilkey's graphic novel Dog Man: Grime and Punishment reportedly sold more than 1.2 million copies. Jeff Kinney's half comic/half novel, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Deep End, sold about 921,000 copies.
However, this coupled with an overall fall in sales in comic book stores – principally due to the likes of Marvel, DC and other publishers offering fewer titles in 2020 as a result of the shutdown. Some titles were cancelled, some were delayed, and many others were not published, or even announced, as planned.
However graphic novel publishers, and graphic novel imprints of mainstream publishers, have seen their schedules, output and sales increase, with publishers such as HRH, Penguin Random House, Scholastic and Simon & Shuster committing to increases in graphic novel publication going forward.
You may have noticed a tendency in 2020 at Bleeding Cool to more widely cover the wider array of original graphic novels being announced across all manner of categories from all manner of publishers, and this may be seen as further evidence as to why. And also why Random House is rumoured to have signed up to publish original graphic novels based on DC Comics characters at a price that other comic book publishers such as Marvel, IDW and Dynamite baulked at.
I get the feeling that 2020 may well be more of the same.