The kids graphic novel market, already growing at a significant pace, has been turbocharged by the release of Raina Telgemeier’s latest, Sisters, last August, and the explosion of her popularity as a result (see “Top 10 Kids/Tweens GN Franchises – Fall/Holidays 2014”).  With over 3.5 million copies of her three graphic novel in print as of the beginning of this year (see “Raina Telgemeier Has Over 3.5 Million Graphic Novels in Print”), Telgemeier has now achieved a level of sales that few comics and graphic novel creators, or authors of any kind for that matter, ever touch.

The market for kids graphic novels was already strong before the release of Sisters, with a channel skew that points to opportunities for retailers in general, and comic stores in particular.

ICv2 conducted a study of graphic novel sales across channels for the months of Summer 2014, and found that kids graphic novels were about 14% of the total, manga about 19% of the total, and adult graphic novels the rest, at around 67% of total graphic novel sales. 

In that same study, we looked at where the various types of graphic novels were sold.  We found that sales by comic stores made up only about 12% of the sales of kids graphic novels vs. 50% of the sales of adult graphic novels (and 8% of the sales of manga).  The book channel, on the other hand, accounted for 88% of the trade sales of kids graphic novels, vs. 50% of the sales of adult graphic novels (and 92% of the sales of manga).   

Not included in our analysis of trade sales were sales to libraries and schools, where kids titles are an even bigger part of the total.  Publishers tell us a majority of the sales of some kids graphic novel titles are made to libraries, with trade a relatively small percentage. 

So an analysis that included library sales would show that kids graphic novel sales account for significantly more than the 14% of trade sales they represent, and paint a picture of the overall demand for titles in the category as significantly larger than what’s shown by sales through stores.

With the sharp increase in interest in kids graphic novels driven by the popularity of the Telgemeier titles, the category has a big opportunity to grow in 2015 and beyond, especially in comic stores, where kids titles have been under-represented.  And as sales of kids titles grow, sales of titles for older readers are likely to follow.  If the comics medium becomes dramatically more popular for kids, the whole business benefits for years and decades to come.  That’s why this phenomenon is so critically important to the future of the business.