Comics Gain Traction within U.S. Publishing Market

NORTH AMERICA–The comics and graphic novels category of the U.S. trade book market as seen compound annual unit sales grow 15 percent over the last three years, making it one of the highest growth categories in the trade book marketplace, according to The NPD Group. 

April 6, 2018

Comics Gain Traction within U.S. Publishing Market

Manga is also proving to be a strong area of growth for both kids and adults.


Furthermore, in the past 12 months, unit sales of comics and graphic novels have increased 6 percent, continuing a pattern of more than five years of robust annual growth.

Although the traditional comic book shop has experienced sales declines in the past year, there has been tremendous growth in overall sales through traditional book retailers (including chains like Barnes & Noble), independent bookstores, online retailers and mass market retailers like Target, which has given increased space to the category, particularly in its kids’ section.

According to The NPD Group, women represent a growing cross-section of buyers, purchasing more than one out of every three comics and graphic novels sold in the past 12 months in the mainstream

market, 37 percent overall. Meanwhile, buyers in the 13-29 age group account for 57 percent of purchasing overall, with 21 percent being women and 36 percent being men.

There are also many types of comics and graphic novels driving growth among children, including books that have a tie-in with a major media franchise, humorous stories, superheroes and non-fiction and biographic titles

Manga, a graphic form from Japan, is also a strong area of growth for both kids and adults. The NPD Group reports that the category is skewing the youngest of all of the comics and graphic novels categories, with 76 percent of the purchasing being done by consumers ages 13-29. Manga buyers are also the most diverse group and are 20 percent less likely to be white than the overall population of comics and graphic novels buyers.

“There is a whole new audience emerging for comics and graphic novels; these readers are younger, they are more diverse, and they are getting their books from a much wider range of channels than we typically think of for comics,” says Kristen McLean, industry analyst, NPD Books. “This is also a very interesting category when it comes to crossover and media tie-ins from across entertainment, including film, toys, and gaming. We have seen this category grow for a few years now, and we have no reason to think it’s just a flash in the pan.”

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