The Great Statistical Purchasing Analysis of 2014!

Welcome to the 7th consecutive year that I’ve tracked my comic book purchasing stats and provided some commentary about the data. I still enjoy analyzing the information because I’m fascinated by patterns and playing with statistics, but as usual I’ll be issuing some qualifiers that explain what’s skewing the metrics. The most basic thing to remember is 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 will also provide some data on). With that said, it’s on to the show. First up, here’s the TOTAL QUANTITY of SINGLE ISSUES purchased:

2008: 259
2009: 197
2010: 169
2011: 125
2012: 143
2013: 285
2014: 323

This is the third year in a row that saw an increase in singles purchased after several years of declining numbers. This is the most SINGLE ISSUES I’ve ever purchased since I started tracking the data, with an uptick of 13% year over year. I basically quit buying Marvel and DC Comics a couple years ago, but those were replaced by a healthy crop of creator-owned material. There’s also a financial causality which explains this phenomenon, namely a huge discount from my LCS sponsor, which I’ll get into below. For now, here’s the TOTAL DOLLARS SPENT on SINGLE ISSUES:

2008: $777
2009: $697
2010: $616
2011: $458
2012: $455
2013: $383
2014: $378

Although the total volume of floppies continues to rise, the TOTAL DOLLARS SPENT was actually down slightly by a little over 1%. I’m buying more than I ever have, yet spending roughly a third of what I should be based on average cover price. This wildly disproportionate decrease in dollars spent vis-à-vis total single issues purchased is attributable to a full calendar year receiving a very deep discount from my retail sponsor Yesteryear Comics. On those review books, I was spending way less than cover price, which allowed me to reallocate the savings to additional material. An interesting aside here is to work out what the average price per floppy was under this paradigm. On average, I only spent $1.17 per single issue. 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:

2008: 4.98
2009: 3.79
2010: 3.25
2011: 2.40
2012: 2.75
2013: 5.48
2014: 6.21

I bought about 6 total SINGLE ISSUES per week in 2014, with a 13% increase year to year. 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: $8.81
2012: $8.75
2013: $7.37
2014: $7.27

In 2008, I’d spend approximately $15 per week on SINGLE ISSUES, and by 2014 I’m spending around $7 on average, which is a drop of 51% over the full term. 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
2014: 03

I know this looks dismal, but the thing is I didn’t really need to buy any. 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 paid for. Through comp copies and Amazon credit, I read tons of TPBs and OGNs, but never tracked them in this category because there was no out of pocket expense. I only bought these three anomalies because I had pull quotes on them and wasn’t able to get copies otherwise. I obsessively try to own all of my pull quote books because I still get a kick out of seeing my name in lights. Let’s look at TOTAL DOLLARS SPENT on TRADES/OGN:

2008: $1,200
2009: $521
2010: $413
2011: $103
2012: $78
2013: $38
2014: $40

This number continues to nearly flatline. It cost me $40 to satisfy my ego and hunt down those three books that I had pull quotes on. Let that be a lesson to you, kids. $40 is the price of fame in the glamorous world of comic book reviewing. The only notable metric here is the huge decline of 97% over the full term from 2008 to 20014. 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
2014: .06

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, it’s basically become a meaningless metric at a weekly interval. 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
2014: $0.77

At this point, basically a meaningless metric as well since the total volume of TPB/OGN purchased is trending toward zero. 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
2014: 326

That’s an increase of 13% from 2013 to 2014. The consistent trend to note here is still that the total volume is up, while total dollars spent continues to go down as seen in this next category. 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
2014: $418

This is a 79% drop over the full term from 2008 to 2014. I went from spending nearly $2,000 on comics 6 years ago, to just over $400 this year (though I was actually consuming more than ever!). Add it all up and *cringe* it looks like I spent about $6,157 on comics in the last 7 years. To run things out, here’s the AVERAGE TOTAL UNITS purchased per week:

2008: 6.04
2009: 4.29
2010: 3.60
2011: 2.63
2012: 2.88
2013: 5.54
2014: 6.27

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 6 and a quarter in 2014. 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
2014: $8.04

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.


That’s traditionally been the end of my purchasing analysis for the year. These numbers don’t factor in comps. Thirteen Minutes has flourished in the last few years and the number of comp copies I receive has increased dramatically. Now, I feel a little guilty about no longer having the time to review every single book I receive, as was once my promise, but they’re sitting here nonetheless and got tracked. It’s getting to the point where I’m almost more interested in this section of the analysis because the numbers are just staggering, totally eclipsing what I spend. The quantity of what I actually read skyrocketed, and the associated dollar amounts if I had to pay full retail are insane. While it’s still outside the scope of a “purchasing analysis” since there’s no out of pocket expense, it speaks volumes about was actually consumed, and makes me feel like a pretty lucky guy to have access to a bunch of free material (It’s how reviewers get “paid” after all!).

2013: 220
2014: 935 

2013: $809
2014: $3,779

2013: 84
2014: 170

2013: $1,262
2014: $3,606

2013: 304
2014: 1,105
This number was up 263%!

2013: $2,071
2014: $7,385
This number was up 257%!


At 7:27 AM, Blogger Ryan Claytor said...

Thank you, once again, for writing this love letter to me. I'm astounded, yearly, that you can track all this so accurately. As you know, I tried one year and fell off the wagon pretty quickly. This is still one of my favorite posts of yours, outside of that SCHWEET comic review comic you did a while back:


Anyhow, pretty eye-opening that our habit has cost you over $6k since 2008. I guess when you break it down into an average yearly cost of less than 1k it's a little more digestible.

Also, those comp metrics were ridiculous! I couldn't believe how MUCH STUFF you've been getting! It's no wonder you've had to retract your "I will review everything I come in contact with," statement. I'd be interested to hear where all these are coming from. Are they mainly PDF comps from the big four? Have you developed a name for yourself in the indie/mini-comics market? Are they mainly coming from artists directly or larger entities like publishers or marketing folks?

Regardless, thanks for pulling back the curtain on your weekly, yearly, and long-term purchasing metrics. Is anyone else doing this? If so, I haven't seen it. Keep it up, man, and best of luck with the tracking in the coming year.

Ryan Claytor
Elephant Eater Comics

At 8:39 AM, Blogger Justin Giampaoli said...

It's all for you, Ryan! Haha! I was waiting to see if this post would catch your eye.

The shortest answer to your question regarding the source of the comps is: YES. It's all of that, everything you mentioned.

I don't track it by source, but I'd say roughly half are PDFs now (thought not many from Marvel or DC, mostly Dark Horse, Oni, Image, IDW, etc.).

After 5 years of reviewing minis at Poopsheet Foundation, small pressers are still sending me their hard copy material, though the amount seems to be decreasing. I'd say minis and small press account for maybe only 20-30% of the comps I get, where it was once closer to 50%.

Similarly, I'd say only about 30% is received from creators directly, folks I have some established relationship with, or they simply seek me out, while the remainder is bulk distribution from a publisher or through a marketing contact.

Amazon credit is also a fairly significant source. The basic model is that a publisher sends me a hard copy book for review, and once I've read/reviewed/deemed it unworthy to keep or gift someone, I sell it to Amazon for store credit, and then keep rolling that credit into ordering new comics material.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback, and glad you enjoyed it!


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