September 5, 2011
DC Comics Should Release Its Digital Numbers
As seen in this interview
, it looks like DC won't be releasing its New 52 digital numbers but will feel confident in making claims on their behalf. It also looks like comics sites will then repeat this claim as news, perhaps qualified by source or as a claim but still putting that information out there.
This should stop. I think DC has a really dubious history with using the hidden portions of their numbers to PR advantage -- call it the "I have a girlfriend in Canada" of sales analysis. My take is that this practice has intensified slightly ever since the numbers have become smaller and therefore more crucial. When in the 1990s sales on mainstream comics dipped to the point where people questioned the profitability of certain issues of certain titles, perhaps leading to a line of analysis about mainstream publishers making books at a loss for market share advantages or to knock other comics from the limited stand space, we were sometimes assured that there were sales elsewhere we didn't know about that pushed certain comics over this projected threshold.
One weird result is that DC's lack of reporting numbers has also likely hurt specific DC efforts. When someone provides analysis on numbers that don't reflect all of the sales, even when it's just a few thousand copies that aren't seen in the pre-order estimates released to the Direct Market, certain comics can acquire the reputation of a losing, perhaps-soon-to-be-canceled endeavor. This must be maddening to the creators involved, who know because of their royalty statements that sales were better than the best numbers analysts have.
We have legitimate agents that are interested in numbers, and would process them in responsible fashion. Why not open up that end of the industry fully instead of partially? I can't imagine what DC would lose, except the ability to finesse certain publicity goals. If they choose to keep that information to themselves, then that's fine as well. In that case, there should be widespread agreement that any claim made on the behalf of numbers a company chooses not to release should never make a headline and rarely make an article.
posted 12:30 pm PST
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