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The Numbers’ Game in the Digital Comic Sense

April 23, 2012

On April 13, 2012, the digital-first comic Smallville Season 11 was released.  For six days it was the number one top selling digital comic on Comixology (digital comic central) and the website reported it so on Twitter.  This digital-first sells for 99 cents US.   There was no statement regarding this product’s success from DC Comics.

On April 20, 2012, the second issue of Smallville Season 11 was released.  Fans were horrified the first issue had dropped dramatically in the top selling lineup .  Smallville Season 11 Issue 1 had dropped to seventh place over night.  Digital comics that were released two days before had miraculously beat the Little-Comic-That-Could.  HOW?  Was the methodology of configuring the top sellers changed?  Was Comixology no longer displaying numbers of issues sold, but rather stats based on dollar revenues per book?

Books with a price point of 99 cents would have to sell over 4 times as many books as a book that sells for $3.99 and 3 times more than a book selling for $2.99.  Even despite those challenges Smallville Season 11 #1 was in 7th place on the day issue 2 was released.

It would seem appropriate for people to see both ways of how books sold.  How many issues were sold and how each book rates on the revenue scale.

There is still a question as to whether or not DC Comics app’s top sellers and Comixology top seller app are still using the number of issues sold for its measure.   (Especially if you own a Kindle Fire, since it no longer gets DC Comics on its pre-loaded Comixology app.  DC Comics and Amazon must be fussin.)

The Power of Superman:

On Saturday, April 21, 2012, Comixology  website showed its new lineup of top sellers from the day before.  Smallville Season 11 issue #2 was 22nd but issue #1 was still in the top 10.  Superman Beyond #1 another digital-first (99 cents) released on the 18th was between the two.  By Sunday, Superman Beyond #1 was 9th, Smallville S11 #1 was 10th, and Smallville S11 #2 had jumped to 11th place.

Monday, April 23rd, Smallville S11 #2 was 9th, Superman Beyond #1 was 10th, and Smallville S11 #1 had dropped to 15th.   Smallville S11 is a weekly digital first.  Does that mean that the comics presented on the webpage are the stats for the month?  30 days?  How long?  If so that would mean that Smallville S11 #2 is outselling issue #1 (and Superman Beyond #1).   If Smallville S11 issue 1 was the top selling digital comic for the six days (or longer, we don’t know) of its debut then what must issue 2 be doing?  Will we ever know?

DC Comics has refused to release any digital numbers.  Why wouldn’t they want to brag about the success of a lucrative product – despite the price point?

Some questions about Combo packs . . .

The only stats we have regarding ‘digital’ sales are from Diamond, the sole printed comic distributor.  The combo packs are printed comics with a dollar increase in the price that include a code for digital download.   Justice League has had a combo pack since September, 2011 with the launching of the new 52.  This is same day (as print) digital.  In January, 2012 there were combo pack stats for Justice League ($4.99), Batman ($3.99) and Action ($4.99).  Batman’s print only price point jumped to $3.99 this month, April (thus increasing their revenue).  January was the one and only month to have stats for an Action Comics combo pack.

Are the digital portions of the combo pack reflected on Comixology?  Are they the dollar part of the combo pack price or are they counted as the digital only price which is the same as the print only?  And also, are these sales reflected in the print statistics provided by Diamond as well as the “we’re not releasing digital” stats from DC Comics via Comixology?

In March, 2012, Justice League combo pack was a mere 30% of its former self in October, 2011.  Batman combo pack March statistics were down 21% from January (there were no February statistics).  Action combo pack has not been reported since the one time in January.

Are fans not liking the combined price point and have decided to move onto just print OR just digital?  And with Batman’s price point moving to $3.99 for print OR digital, does that mean its dodgy combo results will be non-existent like Action’s?

Is it possible that the ‘expected audience’ are moving from print to digital because of the combo pricing?  Since DC Comics refuses to release the digital stats, this seems unlikely.

Did the Big Two not like a 99 cent comic at the top of sales?   In DC’s case, especially one that is not based on the new 52?  Why did Comixology change the methodology on their website?

May 2nd is crucial!

On Wednesday, May 2nd, the print compilation of the first few chapters of Smallville Season 11 with an episode guide for the television series will arrive in local comic book shops and on websites.  It will be priced at $3.99 for 30 to 36 pages of story AND the episode guide.  You don’t get that in a monthly comic.  BUY THIS BOOK!  Let’s see how it does against the ‘big boys’ in the only place that will give us statistics, Diamond.   Hopefully you have Smallville Season 11 on your pull list so your comic shop (web or local) will know to order one for you.  Diamond statistics are actually how many books are ordered by the shops, not how many issues were sold.

Tell everyone you know about the Smallville Season 11 comic!  It’s the REAL Superman.

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