For Second Year In A Row, Female Readers Are A Growing Market
Publishers Weekly released findings from their comics retailer survey last week, and once more all signs point to growth, particularly in regards to female readers. This is great news not just for people who care about representation in comics, but for people who care about the health of the comics industry. An influx of younger readers of any gender is what the comics industry needs so that publishers can engage them and keep them reading for years to come. It seems like a wide variety of publishers are getting this job done.
News for publishers was mixed --- while Marvel and DC sales often dominate, Image is close behind them. In fact, many of the top selling books are Image books like Saga, The Walking Dead, and Sex Criminals. As we all know, Boom has scored a win with Lumberjanes, with Challengers Comics in Chicago reporting it was their top selling comic in 2014. First Second also scored some retail hits with books like This One Summer and The Sculptor.
But some of the shops surveyed reported difficulties selling books related to DC's event Convergence or Marvel trade paperbacks, although apparently Ms. Marvel trades do well at the New York bookstore The Strand. The full report is pretty fascinating, if you're interested in the nitty-gritty.
Just like last year, most of the retailers apparently reported that the top areas of growth in term of customers were in women 17-30, but also reported that kids of any gender ages 6-17 were also a growing demographic. Publishers Weekly reports:
This year the survey included one question not based on hard data but instead on retailers’ anecdotal observations: retailers were asked to estimate the percentage breakdown of male and female customers that buy at their stores. The answers were consistent across the stores: their newest (and younger) consumers were often women, and they are coming in greater numbers than ever before.
Three out of the 13 stores queried did not respond, but of the ten that did, four reported that their customers are 65%–70% male and 30%–35% female. The remaining six estimate that, regardless of age, their customer breakdown by gender is 50%–60% male and 40%–50% female. All the stores report that there is greater gender parity within the younger customer base, a group that has come of age watching both blockbuster superhero movies and reading manga, which generally attract a higher percentage of girls and women.
This is exciting news, and along with the top selling books at retailers, it points to an increasing diversification of the comics industry. A wider variety of books are selling and a wider variety of creators are succeeding at levels that just weren't possible a few years ago. It becomes a delightful oroboros of new reader demographics supporting books that appeal to those demographics, which bring in more new readers, who support more books that appeal to them.
Comics obviously has a broadening readership, which is what many people have hoped for over many decades. While we still have a ways to go, this is yet another great sign.