NPD acquired BookScan from Nielsen early this year (see “NPD Acquires BookScan”), and has big plans for the comics and graphic novel business, putting it at the center of a new initiative to track pop culture brands. 

We were introduced to NPD Book Executive Director, Business Development Kristen McLean in connection with next week’s big event, the New York Comic Con Insider Sessions, Powered by ICv2, where she’ll be a speaker (for info, click here; for tix, click here).  We reached out to learn more about NPD’s move into the comics and graphic novel business, and the topics for her presentation at the NYCC event.

ICv2:  Could you start by describing NPD’s new focus on the graphic novel business, and what you’re working on? 
Kristen McLean: We are very excited about Comics and Graphic Novels here at NPD. In the coming year, NPD BookScan and the larger NPD Books Group is putting Comics and Graphic Novels at the center of a big initiative that includes projects like adding Local Comic Shop data to BookScan in partnership with Diamond Comics and the indie retailers, and developing a new License Reporting Service in BookScan that will allow many types of licenses and IP franchises including Comic franchises to be tracked and trended in BookScan for the first time.

 This will mean that for the first time, someone who is interested in seeing how Batman is doing can look at the brand health of Batman across all publishers and books being sold in BookScan. Eventually, our vision will be to expand that view to include other entertainment categories like toys, gaming, and movies/home entertainment.

 In addition, we’re interested in studying the consumer market for Comics and Graphic Novels for the first time. How are online buyers different from LCS buyers, and different from traditional bookstore Our goal is to create compelling new views and insights for our many clients including Publishers, Retailers, Toy Companies, and Industry Partners—insights and excitement that will continue to fuel the tremendous growth in this category.

Why is NPD doing this now?
On a personal note, I’ve been studying the consumer book market since 2010, particularly on the kids’ side, and I’ve been watching for an uptick in this category for some time. My prediction was that today’s highly visual and media-saturated culture was bound to produce an uptick in interest in visual storytelling, especially among the youngest readers.

That time has come. With a 15% year-over-year growth rate and bold pop-culture appeal that seems to be capturing the interest of a whole new generation of consumers, we see sustained growth that doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. At the same time, “cross-platform content” is a strong trend across all of the entertainment categories that The NPD Group tracks, from Home Entertainment, to Gaming, Books, Movies, Streaming Video, Toys, and even other non-entertainment areas like apparel and home goods.

The Comic & Graphic Novel category is one of the most dynamic we’ve been watching on the trade side of the book business, and we’re really interested in understanding how all the parts of the Comic & Graphic Novel market are coming together.

Can you give us any sense of some of the insights you’ll be talking about at the NYCC Insider Sessions Powered by ICv2?

 The thing I’m most excited to be bringing out next week is the first view of the differences in profile between people buying online, at Local Comic Shops, and at traditional brick & mortar retailers. There are some pretty interesting differences and we’ll talk about that. I’ll also be sharing some data about trends in the larger retail environment that have some implications (and opportunities) for this category, and looking at which markets in the US are more likely to buy Comics and Graphic Novels according to what we’re seeing in BookScan. It’s going to be a fun session, and I really look forward to seeing everybody there. 

For info, click here; for tix, click here.