Sunday, December 6, 2009

Barnes & Noble Top 1000 Graphic Novels and Comics Bestsellers
Cyber Monday 30 November 2009 5:30 PM

The following is a survey of comics-related titles appearing on the Barnes & Noble website.

Using various keyword searches, sorting by sales ranking, the following books are among the Top 1000 books items, as viewed at approximately 5:30 PM on Monday, November 30, 2009.

Sales in the Top 100 listings can be considered “bestsellers”.

While I am an employee of Barnes & Noble, Inc., the data presented below is general information from the public website. I have not researched any proprietary sales data, nor do I speak in any official capacity for Barnes & Noble. You can do the same thing I am doing, using the bookmarks listed below. (The easiest way: enter “graphic novels” in the search bar at On the left side, you will see a frame titled "Browse Graphic Novels". Click on “bestsellers”. The website sorting differs from the sales ranking (probably due to differing algorithms), so scroll through the listing of ten titles. Unlike other searching, where a user can show 100 titles at a time, this screen can only showcase ten. Click on “next” to continue your research.)

I have no knowledge on how sales rankings are calculated. I hypothesize that since the site refreshes periodically throughout the day, that a rolling calculation of sales is performed, where recent sales are weighted more heavily than older sales. Also, sales are in relation to other titles, not a set number of copies sold. The sales rank is sequential. Just as two football teams can be undefeated in a football poll and one may be rated higher than the other, so too are the titles here listed sequentially in relation to everything else. Of course, analysis can only be compared to the titles NOW. Retail sales were difficult last year, and with the media dubbing “Black Friday” as “Grey Friday” this year because of reduced consumer spending, this year will be just as challenging.

I will survey the website weekly and at approximately the same time.
Here are the bookmarks I use to survey results:

Last year's analysis can be found here.

The rankings are:
Sales ranking / Title / Author
Product number
Publisher’s list price / Current sales price (noted as sales prices can affect sales results)

14. Dog Days (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series #4) by Jeff Kinney
ISBN-13: 9780810983915
List price: $13.95 Online price: $6.97

62. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series #1) by Jeff Kinney
ISBN-13: 9780810993136

List price: $12.95 Online price: $9.32

64. The Last Straw (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series #3) by Jeff Kinney
ISBN-13: 9780810970687
List price: $12.95 Online price: $9.32

65. Rodrick Rules (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series #2) by Jeff Kinney
ISBN-13: 9780810994737
List price: $12.95 Online price: $9.32

Not surprisingly, Diary of a Wimpy Kid continues to sell amazingly well. Although it is a hybrid of cartooning and text, the publisher (Abrams) tags it so that it is found via a keyword search for “comics”. Even the Papercutz parody, “Diary of a Stinky Kid”, sells well, which is somewhat unusual for a parody.

66. The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb by R. Crumb
ISBN-13: 9780393061024

List price: $24.95 Online price: $12.47

Robert Crumb’s interpretation of the Book of Genesis continues to sell well, even after two months of release. While some have criticized Crumb’s research, and the depiction of certain scenes, the book is, in my opinion, a faithful (sorry) depiction of the Book.

154. Diary of a Stinky Dead Kid (Tales from the Crypt Series #8) by David Gerrold, Stefan Petrucha, Rob Vollmar, Jim Salicrup, John L. Lansdale
ISBN-13: 9781597071635

List price: $7.95 Online price: $7.15

This is the parody of “Wimpy Kid”, using the classic style of “Tales from the Crypt”, an ongoing comicbook series. This volume is actually an anthology, containing “Stinky Kid and a few other stories from the comics (one of which pokes a pointy stick at "Twilight").

Even more surprising, the hardcover edition of this book, marketed mostly to libraries, has also charted well.

366. Marvel Encyclopedia 2009 by DK Publishing
ISBN-13: 9780756655303

List price: $40.00 Online price: $23.40

The original edition of this book has sold continuously well since it was first published two years ago, an amazing feat for a $40 gift book. This year, Dorling Kindersley has updated the title, as well as offering a special limited edition volume for $100.

421. Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis
ISBN-13: 9781596914520

List price: $22.95 Online price: $11.47

A biographical analysis of the life and ideas of Bertrand Russell as he strives to create a logical philosophical definition of mathematics. Barnes & Noble Studio offers a 4-minute video interview with the creators of this title.

436. The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks by Max Brooks
ISBN-13: 9780307405777

List price: $17.00 Online price: $8.50

Another zombie title, written by the author of “World War Z”, chronicles zombie outbreaks throughout history.

437. Celebrating Peanuts : 60 Years by Charles Schulz
ISBN-13: 9780740785481

List price: $75.00 Online price: $40.50

Andrews McMeel continues their series of anniversary collections of classic comic strips. This oversized volume chronicles the highlights of each year in a beautifully designed volume. Click on the hyperlink and you can "see inside" the edition. Log in with a Barnes & Noble account and one can read even more pages.

546. The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
ISBN-13: 9780740748479

List price: $150.00 Online price: $87.75

Another perennial, this title has made the holiday sales charts since its first release in 2005. Three volumes present every comic and supplemental material from this classic series. An amazing success, given the cost. (Actually, it was a huge success when it sold out the second week of December 2005! That it continues to sell well, even without any advertising or newspaper publication, is a testament to the mastery of Bill Watterson.)

766. Bloom County Complete Library, Volume 1 by Berkeley Breathed
ISBN-13: 9781600105319
List price: $39.99 Online price: $23.39

This is the first volume of a series reprinting every strip from the Pulitzer Award-winning comic strip. Annotations help the reader rediscover the cultural references cited. (Does anyone remember the IBM PC Jr.?)

778. Vampire Knight, Volume 8 by Matsuri Hino
ISBN-13: 9781421530734

List price: $9.99 Online price: $4.99

Although manga is popular as a sub-culture of comics, like comics in general, unless there is specific buzz for a title (like the latest volume of Naruto), the sales will be slow and steady. This is even more true during the holiday season, when gift books are more attractive than a regular title. (Loved ones might be hesitant to purchase a regular volume which the giftee might already own.)

972. Batman : The Killing Joke by Alan Moore, Brian Bolland (Illustrator) , Richard Starkings
ISBN-13: 9781401216672

List price: $17.99 Online price: $8.99

A fantastic selling title, ever since the release of The Dark Knight movie in 2008. This title, in print since publication in 1988, has been remastered into a deluxe hardcover edition by the artist, Brian Bolland.

999. Maximum Ride, Volume 2 Manga by James Patterson
ISBN-13: 9780759529687

List price : $10.99 Online price: $5.49

A manga adaptation of the popular prose series by James Patterson. Random House/Del Rey Manga has had great success publishing manga editions of popular Young Adult series. Librarians probably appreciate a “licensed” graphic novel which isn’t based on a media property, teens probably enjoy the comics and tie-in with the Maximum Ride “universe”.

(In a twist of prose to comics, Scholastic will soon be publishing chapter books based on Jeff Smith’s Bone series of graphic novels. He will approve the writing, and supply spot illustrations throughout.)

That's the way it was, Cyber Monday, 2009.

If you've read this far, here's a reward. In 2007, Running Press published a massive, two-volume slipcased collection of Don Martin, priced at $150. However, it didn't sell as well as expected, and is now available as a remaindered title for... wait for it... Twenty-five dollars! Wait a minute! B&N is offering a special discount! It's not $150. It's not $25. It's not even $24.98! Order now, while supplies last, and only pay $22.48! 1200 pages of classic Don Martin insanity from MAD Magazine, for sale, CHEAP!
MAD's Greatest Artists: The Completely MAD Don Martin by Don Martin (Artist)
Operators are standing by! 1-800-THE-BOOK
ISBN: 161557333X

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