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One of the common misconceptions about past comic book sales are about the units sold prior to the direct market. Yes, publishers used to cancel books if they sold less than 100k copies but there’s a figure missing. The return rate.
Comics used to be returnable. Publishers would have a sell through number (the draw) vs. copies actually sold (sales). Looking at those numbers gave me an epiphany years ago that the actual audience of people buying comics is a relatively small one.
The only times that monthly comics sold “in the millions” were when they were thought of as their most disposable: Post Depression recovery into World War 2 and the 1987-1996 speculation boom where it wasn’t about the books themselves but their perceived value.
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