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Digital Comics Triple in 2011

Now $25 Million Annually

Published: 02/08/2012, Last Updated: 03/05/2012 12:26pm
ICv2 has released its estimate for the digital comics market in 2011: $25 million.  That’s over triple the sales in the channel in 2010, when ICv2 estimated the digital comics market at $8 million.  That’s a total for the English language market, as sales are not restricted by territory and a significant percentage of those sales are from consumers outside North America. 
The growth rate accelerated in the second half of the year. ICv2 had estimated that the growth rate at mid-year 2011 was roughly twice 2010 (see “Digital Comic Sales Double in First Half of 2011”), but by the end of the year, growth was significantly faster. 
There were several reasons for the more rapid growth in the second half of 2011.  First among them was the effect of the DC relaunch, beginning in August 2011.  DC tied a move to day and date digital release on all its new titles to the relaunch, and mounted a massive public relations push around the move.  The surrounding publicity not only affected DC’s sales, but also stimulated the digital comics market as a whole. 
By the end of the year, the move to day and date had become rapidly growing trend, with most major publishers either releasing all of their titles in digital form on the same day as their print release or moving in that direction.  That move was one part of an over-all trend of exploding amounts of content available in digital form.
A third factor was the growing diversification of platforms on which digital content could be purchased and read. At the beginning of 2011, iOS and PSP were the only significant digital comics channels.  By the end of the year, Android, e-readers, and the Web were all contributing significant percentages in addition to iOS (PSP essentially disappeared during 2011).  Direct market comic retailers also became a new channel through comiXology’s Digital Storefronts for retailers, and Marvel and DC’s bundles of digital content with print. 
Publishers we interviewed on the topic do not believe that their digital sales are affecting print sales negatively.  Executive Vice President John Rood of DC, which made the biggest splash in digital sales in 2011, said to ICv2 (see “DC Execs on October Sales”), “The [digital] audience has become additive.  This is not a replacement strategy like any other print medium, which is great.” 
With digital comic sales already at a mid-single digit percentage of the over-all comics and graphic novel market (including bookstores) and growing rapidly, it seems likely that digital will account for north of 10% of the market in 2012. 

Note: This article is reprinted from the newest issue of our magazine, ICv2’s Internal Correspondence #78, shipping this week.

Disclosure: ICv2 has a business relationship with comiXology as a representative for its Retailer Tools; ICv2 CEO Milton Griepp also serves on the board of comiXology.   

Methodology:  ICv2 produced this estimate with an awareness of comiXology's sales numbers and the results of its research on other digital publishers' iOS sales using the iTunes App store list of top grossing apps.  We also conducted interviews with publishers to get information on the relative sizes of other channels. 
 
 
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