The Great Statistical Purchasing Analysis of 2013!

Welcome to the 6th consecutive year that I’ve tracked my comic book purchasing and provided some commentary about the data. I still enjoy analyzing the information because I’m fascinated by patterns and playing with statistics, but I do fear that it’s becoming less meaningful because a couple of key factors are skewing the numbers away from being a truly accurate snapshot of what I actually consume. Nevertheless, I’ll present the data, make some basic observations, and walk you through what’s skewing the metrics. Remember that this is a purchasing analysis, meaning that it represents only my out of pocket expenses, not the total quantity of what I consumed, so it does not take into account comp copies (which I did a better job of tracking in tandem this year). In short, there was significant change this year! Instead of a declining trend across all categories, there was a pronounced uptick in one. I’ll start where I always do, with the TOTAL QUANTITY of SINGLE ISSUES purchased from 2008 to 2013.

2008: 259
2009: 197
2010: 169
2011: 125
2012: 143
2013: 285

While I still feel like I’m becoming less interested in the vast majority of what’s currently being published (*cough* Marvel! DC! *cough*), and there are fewer creators I feel a sense of consumer loyalty to, this year’s number actually suggests the exact opposite. For the first time since I started tracking, there’s not only a huge year to year leap of 99% from 2012 to 2013, but also a 10% bump from 2008 to 2013. That means this is the most SINGLE ISSUES I’ve ever purchased since I started tracking the data, and almost exactly doubles the year to year quantity. Let’s figure out why... While I did quit buying Marvel and DC Comics that weren’t classified as creator-owned about 18 months ago, those were replaced by a healthy crop of creator-owned comics, mostly from Image Comics. There is also a financial causality which explains this chart-busting phenomenon, which we’ll get into below. Here are SINGLE ISSUES tracked by TOTAL DOLLARS SPENT.

2008: $777
2009: $697
2010: $616
2011: $458
2012: $455
2013: $383

This is huge. Although the total volume of floppies was up 99%, the TOTAL DOLLARS SPENT was actually down from 2012 to 2013 by 16%, with an overall decrease from 2008 to 2013 of 51%. So, I’m buying more than I ever have, yet spending less than half of what I should based on the most comparable quantity recorded. This wildly disproportionate decrease in dollars spent vis-à-vis total single issues purchased is attributable to one single factor. For the full calendar year, I received a very deep discount from my retail sponsor Yesteryear Comics. On those review books, I was spending much less than cover price, which allowed me to reallocate those savings to additional purchased material. An interesting aside here is to work out what the average price per floppy was under this paradigm. It means that on average, I only spent $1.34 per single issue. This is down from an average floppy price of $3.66 in 2011 (which was pre-discount), and $3.18 in 2012 (when my discount kicked in toward the middle of the year and began to draw the average down, despite most comics moving toward the $3.99 vs. $2.99 price point). Moving on, since comics are periodicals and the weekly sales pattern is endemic to the business model, I like to look at my purchasing habits on a weekly basis as a meaningful metric. Here is the AVERAGE QUANTITY of SINGLE ISSUES purchased per week over the period.

2008: 4.98
2009: 3.79
2010: 3.25
2011: 2.40
2012: 2.75
2013: 5.48

On average, I bought 5 total SINGLE ISSUES per week in 2013, a 99% increase from 2012 to 2013, and an overall statistical nudge of 10% over the tracked period from 2008 to 2013, which is in perfect parity with the increase in single issues. We can also take a look at AVERAGE DOLLARS SPENT per week on SINGLE ISSUES.

2008: $14.94
2009: $13.40
2010: $11.85
2011: $08.81
2012: $8.75
2013: $7.37

In 2008, I’d spend approximately $15 per week on SINGLE ISSUES, and by 2013 I’m spending around $7 on average, which is a drop of 51%. In terms of year to year fluctuation, this is a 16% decline from 2012 to 2013. Moving on to the GRAPHIC NOVELS AND/OR TRADE PAPERBACKS AND/OR COLLECTED EDITIONS AND/OR WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL THEM BUT YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT I MEAN category, I tracked all of the metrics in the same manner. Here is the TOTAL QUANTITY of TRADES/OGN purchased.

2008: 55
2009: 26
2010: 18
2011: 12
2012: 07
2013: 03

This is a 57% decline from 2012 to 2013, with a drastic decrease of 95% from 2008 to 2013. I know this looks dismal, but keep in mind that these metrics are for books purchased, not consumed. You’ll definitely get tired of hearing me make that distinction. This doesn’t represent what I actually read, only what I actually paid for. What’s interesting is that this number should really have been zeroed out completely, but I bought these 3 anomalies simply because I had pull quotes on them and wasn’t able to get comps otherwise. Since I obsessively try to track down and own all of my pull quote books to serve my fragile ego, this necessitated purchases. I actually read TONS of books in the TPB/OGN format this year, but I’ll save the comps discussion for its own new section down below. For now, let’s move on to look at TOTAL DOLLARS SPENT on TRADES/OGN.

2008: $1,200
2009: $521
2010: $413
2011: $103
2012: $78
2013: $38
From 2012 to 2013, this is a 51% decrease, with a staggering 97% decline from 2008 to 2013. So, it cost me $38 to satisfy my ego and hunt down 3 books that I had pull quotes on, which I wasn’t able to get comp’d for whatever reason. Let that be a lesson to you, kids. $38 is the price of fame in the glamorous world of comic book reviewing. Let’s now look at a weekly breakdown, starting off with the AVERAGE QUANTITY of TRADES/OGN purchased on a weekly basis.

2008: 1.06
2009: .50
2010: .35
2011: .23
2012: .13
2013: .06

That’s a 54% drop from 2012 to 2013, and a 94% drop from 2008 to 2013. While I was neatly buying 1 full OGN/TPB on average when this all began, now that the number has slipped so low in subsequent years that it’s basically become a meaningless metric on a weekly basis. In terms of AVERAGE DOLLARS SPENT on TRADES/OGN per week, the numbers shake out like this.

2008: $23.08
2009: $10.02
2010: $7.94
2011: $1.98
2012: $1.50
2013: $0.73

As you can see, this is a continued decline of 51% from 2012 to 2013, and an overall 97% whack from 2008 to 2013. So, if you spread that $38 out over the whole year, it averages less than 3 George Washington-head quarters a week. Lastly, and mostly for kicks, we can look at combined units for both floppies and collected editions, that’s all “things” qualifying as comics. Here’s the overall TOTAL UNITS PURCHASED.

2008: 314
2009: 223
2010: 187
2011: 137
2012: 150
2013: 288

That’s an increase of 92% from 2012 to 2013, and an overall 8% drop from 2008 to 2013. So, while the total quantity of single issues purchased in 2013 was able to eclipse the original 2008 number, since I didn’t purchase any OGN/TPB in significant quantities to complement that, the overall total units tracked still didn’t reach 2008 levels. In terms of TOTAL DOLLARS SPENT on TOTAL UNITS, it looks like this.

2008: $1,977
2009: $1,218
2010: $1,029
2011: $561
2012: $533
2013: $421

This equates to a 21% decline from 2012 to 2013, with a 79% overall drop from 2008 to 2013. I went from spending nearly $2,000 on comics 6 years ago, to just over $400 this year. Add it all up and *cringe* it looks like I spent about $5,739 on comics in the last 6 years. That’s an annual average of $957. To run things out, as for AVERAGE TOTAL UNITS purchased per week…

2008: 6.04
2009: 4.29
2010: 3.60
2011: 2.63
2012: 2.88
2013: 5.54

This means that I went from purchasing 6 total “things” that could be classified as comics per week (whether singles or trades) in 2008, down to a low of about 2 and a half in 2011, and now back up to about 5 and a half in 2013 . Those metrics represent a jump of 92% from 2012 to 2013, with an overall drop of 8% from 2008 to 2013. Lastly, we can also look at AVERAGE DOLLARS SPENT per week as applied to TOTAL UNITS.

2008: $38.02
2009: $23.42
2010: $19.79
2011: $10.79
2012: $10.25
2013: $8.10

This is a pretty tangible real-world metric that seems to ring true based on my perception of what I actually do in the LCS on a weekly basis. It means that in 2008, I was basically dropping $40 per week, and now I’m only dropping less than $10 per week on average. This comes out to a 21% decline from 2012 to 2013, with a 77% decrease from 2008 to 2013. 


That has traditionally been the end of my purchasing analysis for the year. What these numbers don’t factor in are comps. Thirteen Minutes has flourished in the last couple of years and the number of comp copies I receive has increased dramatically. When you combine print copies comp’d for review purposes (the majority at roughly 75%) and their digital counterparts (the minority at roughly 25%), the quantity of what I actually read and consumed skyrockets. Not only does the total volume of material increase, but the corresponding dollar amounts are astronomical were I in a position where I actually had to pay full retail. I did a much more thorough job of tracking these numbers this year, primarily out of curiosity, which has allowed me to add this new ancillary category. While it’s still outside the scope of a “purchasing analysis” since they didn’t represent any out of pocket expense, it speaks volumes about was actually consumed, and makes me feel like a pretty lucky guy to basically receive a bunch of free material.




Yet another factor is the flat-out TON of Amazon credit I accumulate and burn up on comics, with no out of pocket expenses incurred or applicable for a purchasing analysis. I also did a better job of tracking the Amazon credit this year.


Add that to our comp totals and I consumed a grand total of 304 additional books with no out of pocket expense, with a total retail value of $2,071. Questions? Comments? Did you like the additional comp category? Can you stand the mighty power of the numerical analysis? Did all of this transparency change your life? Shall I keep going next year?


At 11:10 AM, Blogger Ryan Claytor said...

Fuck yah! Stats!!!

Man, I get so excited when I see this post. Please do not stop. Here's one of my favorite lines that were buried in the stats:

"Let that be a lesson to you, kids. $38 is the price of fame in the glamorous world of comic book reviewing."


As I was reading through I was thinking to myself, "Man, this is wonderfully exhaustive. How could he have covered EVERY POSSIBLE CATAGORY of purchasing analysis since the start of the stat-gasm in 2008?" ...and then you come up with MORE CATEGORIES!

I'm thankful for it, too. As a reviewer, your patterns are a little skewed from the average consumer, so it was nice to see JUST HOW skewed they are. Very enlightening.

I haven't been able to manage a spreadsheet quite as professionally as you, but I love living vicariously through yours.

Metric away!
Ryan Claytor
Elephant Eater Comics

P.S. Pardon the cursing at the beginning. I got really excited about the statting.

At 9:52 AM, Blogger Justin Giampaoli said...

Ryan, you're not allowed to say "Fuck yah!" and then apologize for saying "Fuck yah!" because that totally negates all the spirit of the "Fuck yah!" Haha!

Thanks for the feedback, man! I'm glad someone is enjoying this. Just when I thought it was getting dismal and boring, things changed and have kind of reignited my interest in how I can continue tracking things.

At 9:19 AM, Blogger Ryan Claytor said...

Totally. I kind of had the same sinking feeling after spectating last year's stats. This year had me all jazzed and cursing!


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