The Great Statistical Purchasing Analysis of 2008!

Some of you may remember that at the end of last year, I vowed to track and analyze my purchasing and collecting habits for an entire calendar year. At long last, here are the results of that project. You may ask how I can analyze the stats when the year is still running; I’ve simply projected what I’ll be picking up this week and next and incorporated those items into the beautiful disaster that is the spreadsheet I created. I’ll be starting with a summary and then drilling deeper for those of you who might actually care about the minutiae of the more detailed breakdown. Of course, everything has been rounded to the nearest dollar in most cases...


Total Single Issues Purchased: 259
Total Spend Single Issues: $777
Average Single Issues Purchased Per Week: 4.98
Average Spend Single Issues Per Week: $14.94


Total TPB/GN Purchased: 55
Total Spend TPB/GN: $1,200
Average TPB/GN Purchased Per Week: 1.06
Average Spend TPB/GN Per Week: $23.08


Keep: Something I intend to keep in the format it was originally purchased in.
Upgrade: Something I’ll upgrade to a better format, it’s then divided into the “Keep” (new format) and “Giving” (old format) categories, a temporary category.
Giving: Something I didn’t like enough to keep, but is okay to give away to friends, family, or coworkers.
Selling: I don’t sell single issues (Silver Age excluded) since they’re not worth anything, but TPBs/GNs are sold to my LCS for cash or credit.
Trashing: Something that was so dreadful I couldn’t in good conscience even give it away; it finds a home in the recycle bin.


Keep: 13% or 33 issues
Upgrade: 7% or 18 issues
Giving: 68% or 176 issues
Selling: 0% or 0 issues
Trashing: 12% or 32 issues


Keep: 25% or 14 items
Upgrade: 0% or 0 items
Giving: 24% or 13 items
Selling: 51% or 28 items
Trashing: 0% or 0 items


* I’m giving away quite a few comics, particularly single issues, which comprise a huge quantity and dollar amount. I think this is evidence that I’m a fairly adventurous consumer and try a lot, but wow, I need to drive that number down. Looking at the numbers, if I had given away only the things I’d upgraded to a better format, it would have been just 46 issues given away for free, and not 176.

* I’m giving away more than half, nearer to 2/3 actually, of the single issues I buy, which is either foolishly generous or generously foolish. The numbers did trend down later in the year when gas prices went up and I really tried to be selective and cull my pull list; I expect it to continue to trend down over 2009 due to the economic crunch.

* Speaking purely from a project management standpoint, “Upgrade” was a stupid category to track because it’s transitory and temporary and really holds limited value, other than to comment on how many books I was buying more than once for the same content. I could have basically put single issues in the “Keep” (rather than “Upgrade”) category and then put the replacement into the “Keep” category, while the upgraded single issues eventually moved into the “Giving” category.

* The “Trashing” category is certainly amusing, but I should really just try to avoid it altogether. It basically comes down to the fact that there are some things I just want to read to be familiar with the content (like say, an issue of Nightwing for guilty pleasure and a childhood fondness for the character), but I know deep down that there’s no way in hell I’m going to keep the book long term just by looking at it, so why buy it in the first place?

* Overall, I only keep about 20% of what I buy, which isn’t very good odds. Essentially, there’s only a 1 in 5 chance that something will make the grade and stay in my collection long term.

* I sell about 50% of the TPBs and GNs I buy, give away about 25%, and keep roughly 25% long term.



55%: Marvel
39%: Misc. (Abstract Studio, Oni Press, Avatar Press)
6%: Image


56%: DC
44%: Misc. (Dynamite Entertainment, Archaia Studios Press, Image)


28%: DC
23%: Marvel
13%: Dark Horse
13%: Image
9%: Misc. (Virgin, Markosia, Dynamite, IDW, Top Cow)
5%: Oni Press
5%: Avatar Press
3%: Sparkplug
1%: Archaia Studios Press




22%: DC
22%: Marvel
13%: Image
6%: Radical
6%: Archaia Studios Press
6%: Boom!
6%: Avatar Press
6%: Dynamite Entertainment
6%: Dark Horse
6%: Misc.



36%: DC
36%: Misc. (Dark Horse, Image, Marvel, Avatar Press)
29%: Oni Press




38%: Fantagraphics
31%: Image
15%: Misc.
15%: Top Shelf


50%: Misc. (Optimum Wound, Archaia Studios Press, NBM, Marvel)
18%: Dark Horse
14%: DC
11%: Fantagraphics
7%: AdHouse Books




* I try a ton of stuff, there’s good diversity with the breadth of publishers represented. I keep a relatively small percentage of items, and there’s no easily identifiable trend available from this data. It must be according to some combination of my weird byzantine criteria and dwindling storage space.

* What I keep tends to be from DC (largely its imprints though, very little from the main DCU) and second tier publishers like Oni Press, Avatar Press, Archaia Studios Press, and Dark Horse. This makes sense on both fronts. I basically grew up a DC kid and on the independent side tend to follow and handful of creators pretty loyally.

* The stinkers that I trashed were pretty evenly representative, Marvel and DC tied for first, with a wide range of others comprising the cock-ups that made their way to the recycle bin.

* I did learn some things about my buying habits that enabled me to save some money and be an even more selective buyer. You can extrapolate which companies have a statistical probability to produce products that I’m likely to keep or upgrade…

* …of course that’s based on wildly unstable criteria, such as the creators or characters involved and I didn’t track to that level of detail. Though I thought about taking it that one step further, you could track additionally by artist, writer, or even genre.

* In closing, let me just stress that this was a ton of work – something that I will not be repeating in 2009, save for tracking my total quantity of purchases and corresponding dollar amounts (basically just the SUMMARY SINGLE ISSUES and SUMMARY TPB/GN categories above) so that I can compare year over year changes. You have to be very disciplined about including every single purchase made, placing it in the correct category, then reviewing periodically when the categories change. You also have to be willing to build an insane Excel spreadsheet to track all of this, and track it for an entire year… just to get one single post!


At 5:20 PM, Blogger Ryan Claytor said...

Obviously a ton of work here. I'm curious how others will respond (or not...*shudder*) to this analysis.

I found it really interesting to see such a comprehensive track-job for a person's entire year of comics purchasing. I wish I had something as thorough. Perhaps with the advent of phone/pda/personal computers combo devices, it would make things a little easier to just sit in the parking lot for a couple minutes after a purchase and track the heap.

I must admit, I was intrigued when you mentioned a possible artist/writer category in the future, but my hopes were deflated when you came back with a "no possible way for 2009" remark. Ha-ha! Completely understood though. :)

Thanks for posting this for all us statistical dorks in comics-land.

P.S. Would you mind emailing me your excel file? I'm mildly tempted to try this myself for Oh-Nine. Maybe a template would push me over the edge. ...maybe. :)

Ryan Claytor
Elephant Eater Comics

At 9:59 AM, Blogger Justin said...

Hey Ryan,

The PDA's not a bad idea, with most comics having barcodes now, you could probably just scan them in and have a quick script that sorts them into categories somehow.

I think the writer/artist/genre tracking would be very revealing, but at the moment I'm just so out of time and energy for that. Ha!

I'll shoot you the Excel file soon. Happy Holidays!


At 3:29 PM, Blogger Ryan Claytor said...

Oooo... bar code scanners. Maybe that'll be on the next generation of phone/pda's. Or does that already exist and I'm behind the times? Regardless, bitchin' idea.

Ryan Claytor
Elephant Eater Comics

At 7:18 PM, Blogger Irma said...

Hi Justin,

I am a lecturer in purchasing and supply for a University in South Africa. I would like to include your analysis in a study guide that I am writing on simple purchasing analysis. Would that be okay?

Irma Fourie

At 2:36 PM, Blogger Justin said...

Hi Irma,

That would be great! If you can just credit me (and the site) as the source of course, I don't see any reason why not.




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