Comics and Graphic Novels One of Highest Growth Categories in Publishing, Reports NPD

Comics and Graphic Novels Growth in the Mainstream U.S. Book Market is Being Driven by a Whole New Population of Readers, And Who They Are Might Surprise You

Port Washington, NY, October 6, 2017– According to NPD Bookscan data from global information provider the NPD Group, the comics and graphic novels category in the U.S. trade book market has experienced compound annual unit sales growth of 15 percent over the last three years, making it one of the highest growth categories in the trade book marketplace.

Women represent a growing cross-section of buyers, purchasing more than one out of every three comics and graphic novels sold over the past 12 months in the mainstream market, 37 percent overall. Buyers in the 13-29 age group account for 57 percent of purchasing of comics and graphic novels overall, with 21 percent being women and 36 percent being men.

While the traditional comic shop market has experienced sales declines over the past 12 months, there has been remarkable growth in overall sales through traditional book retailers, including chains like Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores, online retailers, and mass market retailers like Target who have given increased space to the category, particularly in its kids’ section. Over 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.

There are many types of comics and graphic novels driving the strong growth for kids, including books that have a tie-in with major media franchises, humorous stories, superheroes, and non-fiction and biographical titles. 

Manga, a graphic form native to Japan, is a particularly strong area of growth for both kids and adults. Manga is skewing the youngest of all of the comics and graphic novels categories, with 76 percent of the purchasing being done by those ages 13-29. Manga buyers are also the most diverse group of buyers of comics and graphic novels; they 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,” said Kristen McLean, industry analyst for 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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