The demand in comic stores for magazines about geek culture dropped roughly 90% in a decade, leading to far lower sales and far fewer titles in 2011 than in 2000. Diamond Comic Distributors reports indexes for its magazine rankings, which allows us to use the same methods we use on comic sales to look at magazine sales.
One comparison, of the industry-leading Wizard magazine, shows a decline in sales to comic stores from 71,310 in April of 2000 to 9,316 in April of 2010, a decline of 87%. Most of the decline took place in the second half of the decade; sales on Wizard had declined to 53,435 in April of 2006, a decline of about 25% from April of 2000.
Founder Gareb Shamus announced early this year that Wizard was ending as a print publication and moving to a new, digital format (see “ICv2 Interview with Gareb Shamus, Part 2”).
Even more dramatic is the comparison between the top magazines in April 2000 and April 2011, in the wake of the cancellation of Wizard and Toy Fare. The top magazine in comic stores in April 2011 was Doctor Who Insider #1, which sold 3,537 copies. That’s a decline of 95% from the top magazine ordered in April 2000 (Wizard at 71,310).
The top ten magazines in comic stores in April 2011 sold a total of 21,435 copies, 70% less than just the top title, Wizard, sold in April of 2000.
The Web has clearly replaced magazines as the primary source of news and commentary on geek culture topics. While consumers may have access to more and better information than they’ve ever had before, the loss of income to retailers has been substantial as shown by these numbers.