With Heidi MacDonald seemingly painting this column's analysis of recent comics statistics as reeking of alcohol fumes from the pub we'd like to point out that
a) Quite possibly. More rosé-tinted than beer goggles though.
b) Reporting "a 50% decrease a "slip" is definitely looking on the bright side" – compared to the last sales slip of an X-Men #1 to #2, it's positively blooming.
c) Sometimes the view through the bottom of a glass can be an accurate one, taking in a bigger picture than the mere minutea presented.
For example, there's something being missed in all the recent reaction to the numbers analysis and the graphic novel numbers drop – they're Diamond's comic book store numbers. And increasingly Diamond is far from being the only graphic novel distributor to comic book stores out there these days, and that limits the effectiveness of long term trend analysis based on just their numbers.
For example when Jeff Snith pulled Bone from Diamond Book Distributors, he effectively created competition for Diamond Comic Distributors as well, as his new distributor Publisher Group West also services comic book stores. But those numbers don't get included in the stats. Neither does anything going through Hachette, Random House, Harper Collins, or several other companies.
It's also worth mentioning that Diamond Book Distributors sell huge amounts of comics through the likes of Amazon – as last year's Amazon Glitch demonstrated wonderfully – if unfortunately. And I know of plenty of comic stores who order heavily discounted books through Amazon now – again not showing up on the Diamond Comic Distributor stats.
Anecdotally – to a man, no retailer I've spoken to reports anything like a significant drop in August sales. Though some qualify that saying Diamond orders have dropped, but that's because they're switching suppliers on a number of titles. And that con season gave a number the opportunity to buy product direct – and a few weeks in advance too, in some cases. Just from three retailers I spoke to, that alone would have made up 10% of reported Diamond Comics Distributor sales on certain top selling books in August. And that they didn't do this at all last year.
Of course there are issues, digital is a clear factor, as is a splintered market. But as it stands, mid-list and low-list items finding other distribution sources and a lack of top ticket items for the month with many pushing their big book releases out for San Diego seems far more a reasonable explanation that the bottom of the direct market falling out in August.
Is this Chicken Little or Cassandra? Let's find out!
And now I'm off to the pub.