Numbers and Meaning

The Beat has a interesting look at various sales chart related things.  It helped shed some light on something I have been wondering as well as helping to illustrate some of the differences in the costumers between comic shops and book shops.

The part that shed some light for me are the numbers from Brian Wood’s trade sales on his series Northlanders.  Basically the book is doing healthy numbers in trade despite low sales on the monthly books.  This is the pattern for Vertigo books in general but it’s tricky for fan like to find proper numbers for sales.  My main concern being that I want to know that the Vertigo books are doing well as well knowing what “doing well” means in terms of numbers.  Looking at Northlander’s numbers is a good way to get a feel for how the Vertigo line is doing.  According to Wood, Volume 1 trade has done 18,783 and Volume 2 so far has sold 9,073 to the direct market.  Now Northlanders is a book basically about Vikings and a their way of life.  It is well written and the artwork is very good but the subject matter strikes me something that would not exactly sell well for an ongoing series.  To make a long story short the trades are doing healthy numbers in the direct market and while Wood could not give actually numbers outside the direct market he did note that they are significant and not too far off from the direct market.  I’m glad to know this as it helps show the Vertigo books are still finding their market.  

I think books like Northlanders are important because it is something different form standards comics.  While it not something a book I personally enjoy because of Viking do not interest, it is good to know that those that might find interesting are picking it up.  I do like Brain Wood’s work in general and I would certainly recommend picking his other Vertigo book DMZ.  That is more the type of book I personally look for from Vertigo.

Going back to the post from the Beat, it also notes the Independent Bookstore Novembers top sellers list.  I find it interesting as it is very similar to the New York Times best sellers.  It helps show there is very healthy market outside of the core comic shop fan market.  It certainly shows the differences in tastes between the direct market and the wider market.  Crumb’s The Book of Genesis Illustrated continues to be a top seller outside of the direct market.  Being able to see these sort of things is one of the blessings that came from the Watchmen movie.  The sales of the trade and interest in the work were so significant that the people outside of comics started taking serious notice.  The highlight of that being the New York Times creating their graphic books lists.  It’s much easier now to get a real sense of what the broader book reading public is drawn to in terms of comics, not surprisingly the broader public tend to be drawn the kind of books without superheros.

I will leave this with a random recommendation as it is something that was on the Indpendent Booksellers list, that being the graphic novel adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.  The original novel is one of my favorite sci fi books and I was glad to find the graphic novel version to be a perfect adaptation of the book.  It is worth reading for both those who have read the original novel and those that have not.