Good times for the direct market? This week's edition of Publishers Weekly (subscription required) has a surprisingly upbeat story about rising graphic novel sales in the direct market:
"Mark Herr, director of the purchasing department at Diamond Distribution—by far the biggest distributor to the direct market—reports a steady growth in graphic novel sales to comics specialty stores in the last three years—they're up 14% over last year. Diamond now stocks 'easily five or 10 times' as many backlist comics trade paperbacks as it did a few years ago. Graphic novels currently make up about 20% of Diamond's business. DC Comics' publisher Paul Levitz said DC's direct-market book sales for this year will be up, 'north of 30%.'"
The article also makes curious note of book market-exclusive titles, and how comics retailers have reacted to them:
"The book market's exclusive titles—like the paperback editions of some Marvel Masterworks books for Barnes & Noble—don't yet seem to agitate comics stores. 'They increase awareness of comics,' [Iowa City's Daydreams Comics's Paul] Tobin told PW. 'New customers at Barnes & Noble eventually means new customers for Daydreams.' There are also some titles that are exclusive to comics stores, notably reprints of older material. Marvel Comics' manager of sales/administration, David Gabriel, cited the example of the recent paperback Essential Tomb of Dracula, collecting an early-1970s series: 'It's almost sold out in comics shops, and it didn't even really get to bookstores—if we're just going to see them in returns, it's not worth it.'"
I'm guessing PW didn't follow the online reaction to the proposed Marvel Manga exclusives ...