Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Who Rules on Amazon?

I checked out the Comics & Graphic Novels bestsellers list on Amazon; I expected that, like in bookstores, manga would rule the day at Amazon, but that's not the case. Here are the current top selling Comics & Graphic Novels at Amazon (edited to remove things on the list which aren't actually comics or graphic novels):

  1. 300

  2. Astonishing X-Men Vol. 3: Torn

  3. The Complete Calvin and Hobbes

  4. Watchmen

  5. Lost Girls

  6. American Born Chinese

  7. Serenity: Those Left Behind

  8. Penny Arcade Volume 3: The Warsun Prophecies

  9. Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels

  10. Fun Home

  11. Persepolis

  12. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

  13. V for Vendetta

  14. Understanding Comics

  15. Fables Vol. 8: Wolves

  16. The Walking Dead, Vol. 6: This Sorrowful Life

  17. Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall

  18. The Complete Far Side 1980-1994

  19. Bone: One Volume Edition

  20. Maus: A Survivor's Tale (box set)

  21. Lucifer Vol. 11: Evensong

  22. Bone Volume 1: Out From Boneville

  23. The Halo Graphic Novel

  24. Theories of Everything: Selected, Collected, and Health-Inspected Cartoons, 1978-2006

  25. Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile

  26. Pride of Baghdad

  27. Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories 2

  28. Marvel Zombies

  29. Bleach Vol. 17

  30. Kingdom Come

  31. Frank Miller's Complete Sin City Library

  32. Our Kingdom Vol. 5

  33. Scrum Bums: A Get Fuzzy Collection

  34. Y: The Last Man Vol. 8 - Kimono Dragons

  35. Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History

  36. Maus II: A Survivor's Tale: And Here My Troubles Began

  37. Ronin

  38. The Complete Peanuts 1959-1962 Box Set

  39. Y: The Last Man Vol. 6: Girl on Girl

  40. Preludes and Nocturnes (The Sandman, Vol. 1)

  41. Fables Vol. 2: Animal Farm

  42. Death Note Vol. 1

  43. Garfield Blots Out the Sun: His 43rd book

  44. Try Rebooting Yourself: A Dilbert Collection

  45. Virtuoso Di Amore

  46. It's A Magical World: A Calvin and Hobbes Collection

  47. Watchmen (Absolute Edition)

  48. The Walking Dead Vol. 5: The Best Defense

  49. Lost Portrait

  50. Justice: Volume 2

The first manga doesn't appear on the list until position #27!

A couple of caveats:

1) Amazon updates its bestsellers lists hourly, so it'll probably be different by the time you look at it.

2) There are a lot of non-comics books on the list; it's unknown if there are any comics & graphic novels that didn't make the list because they're labeled wrong.

(Manga is a subcategory of Comics & Graphic Novels; there is a separate Manga bestsllers list, and it does track with the broader list.)

Why such a poor showing for manga in Amazon? I have a couple of theories:

1) Amazon's pricing structure usually doesn't give discounts on items priced under $10; since most manga are $9.99 or less, there's no cost savings for ordering most manga on Amazon. (Although that doesn't stop the similarly priced Serenity graphic novel from hitting the top ten.)

2) One needs a credit card to order from Amazon; teenagers--one of manga's major audiences--typically don't have credit cards.

A few more observations about the list:

* 300 on top is not surprising, since the movie comes out next month. Good to see Dark Horse having movie-related product available before the movie for a change.

* Big ticket items make a strong showing, with The Complete Calvin & Hobbes and Lost Girls both in the top 5. Amazon shoppers love those 40% discounts on expensive hardcover box sets!

* Plenty of evergreen titles here, like Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, V for Vendetta, Persepolis, and Maus.


Anonymous said...

Really interesting stuff, Dave. I did want to point out that you can now pay through a checking account at Amazon, but that doesn't really discount your point about credit cards.

I remember one of those "Kids like manga" articles that talked specifically about young readers viewing "new manga day" in the bookstores with the same fervor and regularity that people have for Wednesday at the comic shop. I wonder if that might not be a factor too -- a large chunk of the audience (the teens) likes browsing and the immediate gratification of taking the book up to the register.

T Campbell... said...

Nice idea. I'm a little nervous, though, about trusting a list that includes ANIMAL FARM and ON THE ROAD as "graphic novels." You can edit out those false positives, but what about the false negatives?

And I'd say the converse holds true for your "discount rule:" Amazon buyers have little financial incentive to go for manga volumes and pay extra shipping charges when they can get it for less at the bookstore.

Dave Carter said...

T: Those were exactly points I was trying to make.

I don't think we can make any general assumptions about manga's popularity; just that it's less popular on Amazon than it is in bookstores (for probably a multitude of reasons).

Anonymous said...

I think kids tend to buy what they can see and touch before plunking down their pocket money, and adults are more willing to shop online for a deal. Manga's audience is largely younger than your typical comic book reader.

That's my theory anyway.