SCALPED – trades versus monthlies

The original numbers are here. I’m going to reproduce the relevant portion.

232/235 – SCALPED (Vertigo)
04/2007: Scalped #4  —  9,163
——————————
04/2008: Scalped #16 —  7,071 (+ 1.0%)
05/2008: Scalped #17 —  6,927 (- 2.0%)
06/2008: Scalped #18 —  7,020 (+ 1.3%)
07/2008: Scalped #19 —  7,221 (+ 2.9%)
08/2008: Scalped #20 —  7,034 (- 2.6%)
09/2008: Scalped #21 —  7,029 (- 0.1%)
10/2008: Scalped #22 —  6,964 (- 0.9%)
11/2008: Scalped #23 —  6,910 (- 0.8%)
12/2008: Scalped #24 —  6,777 (- 1.9%)
01/2009: –
02/2009: Scalped #25 —  6,887 (+ 1.6%)
03/2009: Scalped #26 —  6,866 (- 0.3%)
04/2009: Scalped #27 —  6,950 (+ 1.2%)
04/2009: Scalped #28 —  6,860 (- 1.3%)
—————-
6 months: – 0.9%
1 year  : – 2.4%
2 years : -24.6%
Scalped sales stick to their established mark.

The book’s fourth paperback collection came out in April with first-month sales of 3,337 in the direct market, which is in the same area as previous ones.

Neither of these numbers is very high, but they remain solid at their given levels.

Let’s leave aside discussion of the accuracy of these numbers, as I’m sure there will be.  And really, the exact figure isn’t what I’m interested in.  What I *am* interested in is that the month the fourth trade collection of SCALPED was released, it sold 3,337 into the DM (I’d assume there’s spillover into the bookstore market as serviced by Diamond).  Given those numbers on their face, SCALPED sells half its monthly numbers in trades, in the first month of release.  That’s the first bite of the apple.  It doesn’t count traffic after that month, which there is, though probably not nearly as dramatic as that.  If this leaves any question as to the value of the trade collection market, then I’m not sure what to tell you.  Yes, there will be the chorus of “but the trades wouldn’t exist without the monthlies! And they’d be too expensive to produce otherwise! And a! And a! And a!”

But still, those are impressive numbers for trade sales.  Though really, I’d be happier if they were five times that.  I bet the audience would be there there if anyone had any freaking idea how to actually connect it to the books.

Wonder what the rest of the trade collection numbers look like…

5 comments to SCALPED – trades versus monthlies

  • […] Publishing | Matt Maxwell eyes the direct-market sales estimates for Vertigo’s Scalped, and notes: “Given those numbers on their face, Scalped sells half its monthly numbers in trades, in the first month of release. That’s the first bite of the apple. It doesn’t count traffic after that month, which there is, though probably not nearly as dramatic as that.  If this leaves any question as to the value of the trade collection market, then I’m not sure what to tell you.” [Highway 62] […]

  • I think it’s really a matter of linear storylines that continue further through a better “graphic novel” setting. Scalped is one of those things that just doesn’t work for me as a monthly series. However, in TPB it fits like a book, with multiple chapters continuing.

    I know, it’s not the goal of comic books but Scalped feels more like a graphic novel than a monthly edition, if that makes sense at all.

  • Jorge, I’m in agreement. The SCALPED team often does do single issues that work by themselves, but as with most ongoing storylines, SCALPED reads better in larger chunks. This is no surprise and is one of the reasons why I have written my own work as OGNs, with the webcomics being out there to drum up interest, not necessarily provide the best platform for reading it.

    SCALPED, however, is a stark example of exactly how the audience responds and is changing. A trade collection doing these kinds of numbers in the first month would be unthinkable a few years ago. But by the same token, a book with the monthly numbers of SCALPED would have been cancelled in those days.

  • obii

    Kuddos to DC that they support such experimental comics

  • batlash

    Trades can be very valuable for establishing an audience. I passed over SCALPED when the first monthly came out, even though I’m a huge fan of gritty crime novels. But after the first trade came out I was looking for something new and picked it up. Reading that first story arc in a big chunk was the way to go and I was hooked! I look forward to each new SCALPED trade with great anticipation. It’s a tremendous piece of work (and a ready-made HBO original series if someone over there would be smart enough to pick it up already!). I’m not sure I would have made the effort to go back and discover this excellent series were it not for the trade editions. They make it so much more convenient for new readers to jump in and get the full flavor of something rather than tracking down 20-page back issues for a small taste.

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