The bottom of the top

February 18, 2007

At Newsarama, retailer Brian Hibbs has shared analysis of BookScan’s 2006 list of the 750 bestselling graphic novels. Hibbs notes that dollar sales for the category are up about 8.5% from 2005 estimates, and that manga publishers claimed 575 of the 750 slots. That’s about a 3% drop from last year’s manga estimate, but unit and dollar sales have both increased for the category.

There’s a significant change in methodology this year:

“This provided a very close approximation of what the year’s best sellers were, but there was always a chance that some books slipped through the cracks by not happening to sell enough copies that week to make the chart.

“This year, however, I have the actual year end chart.”

Since there’s only so much you can say about Naruto, I thought I’d look at the bottom 25 manga to see what could be gleaned.

  • CASE CLOSED V11 – 5/16/06
  • HIKARU NO GO V2 – 10/12/04
  • DRAGON BALL V5 2E – 3/??/03
  • MEGATOKYO V2 – 1/21/04
  • W JULIET V8 – 1/10/06
  • CERES CELESTIAL LEGEND V2 YUHI 2E – 2/4/04
  • SAIYUKI RELOAD V5 – 10/10/06
  • ALICE 19TH V3 CHAINED – 3/17/04
  • BEET THE VANDEL BUSTER V1 – 10/19/04
  • W JULIET V9 – 3/14/06
  • KAGETORA V1 – 3/28/06
  • ALL THAT PIKACHU ANIMANGA – 8/15/06
  • YU YU HAKUSHO V5 – 10/12/04
  • IMADOKI V3 – 10/10/04
  • KAMIKAZE KAITO JEANNE V3 – 4/26/06
  • DESCENDANTS OF DARKNESS V1 – 9/14/04
  • HANA KIMI V8 – 10/11/05
  • WOLF’S RAIN V2 – 2/1/05
  • YU YU HAKUSHO V4 — 6/16/04
  • HANA KIMI V3 – 1/11/05
  • DRAGON BALL Z V10 2E – 5/??/03
  • LA ESPERANCA V2 – 3/29/06
  • SENSUAL PHRASE V13 – 4/11/06
  • NAOKI URASAWA’S MONSTER V1 – 2/21/06
  • MAN’S BEST FRIEND INU MO ARUK – 6/??/06
  • Hm… not a whole lot, now that I look at them. There is a fair amount of evergreen material on the lower end of the scale. Less than half of the titles were actually published in 2006. Three were released in 2005, nine in 2004, and two in 2003.

    Here are some other points from the run-down that jumped out at me:

    “This year, the ‘worst selling’ book clears 4700 copies. In previous years there would be 200 or more items that didn’t have [year-to-date] sales in that amount.”

    That’s good to know, as it indicates overall growth in the category.

    “[I]t seems to me that manga, while still growing, is no longer doing so as ‘explosively’ as it once did. Nearly a 40% unit growth from ’03 to ’04, 22% from ’04 to ’05, and about 20% from ’05 to ’06. Factor in the differences in reporting methodologies, and it’s probably under 13% growth in 2006. Really, my supposition won’t be properly tested until next year’s figures, but I think we might be reaching a plateau for manga sales where the category becomes ‘mature’, and a more reasonable 5-8% growth a year is what’s to be expected.”

    Hibbs goes on to note that DC and Marvel both enjoyed massive growth in dollar sales and units moved. Both roughly doubled their numbers over 2005 estimates, though neither made tremendous gains in the number of titles placing on the list. (DC went from 42 to 59, and Marvel from 26 to 33.)

    “That’s it for ‘art comics’ – there’s no D&Q, there’s no FirstSecond (on that one I checked with a source, yup they’re all below the 4784 line; nope, not even American Born Chinese)”.

    That’s depressing. Both published some really superb books in 2006, and my anecdotal experience indicates that they each have pretty good bookstore distribution in addition to near-universal critical acclaim. Maybe some of this year’s books will show up on next year’s list.