The Secret Origin of The Mayo Report

Hi. My name is John Mayo and this is the "secret origin" of the Mayo Report.

I've been tracking and charting the sales for a few years on this website and had posted links to some of the charts on a podcast forum. (It seemed like a good idea at the time.) That lead to an invitation to be on the podcast to talk about the sales numbers. I was given all of about six hours notice before recording that night. That was January 15, 2006 and the first installment of "The Mayo Report" was recorded that night. The segment covered the nature of the data and the estimated sales for January 2006.

Sure, a few people may have slipped into a coma but that a risk when discussing numbers, lots and lots of numbers. The Mayo Report segment was the only regularly recurring guest feature on that podcast and I was told by the person running the podcast that the Mayo Report segments was among the most popular segment on the show. I've since been told by that same person after the segment stopped, that the segment was never popular at all. Either way, it doesn't really matter. Some people are interested in how comics are selling and some aren't.

The episodes cover the comic book sales for May, June, July and August 2007 were all released in October 2007 after it became clear that the podcast that the segment had been on had no intention of continuing with it. With the episode on the May 2007 sales estimates, the comic book segment shifted over to the Comic Book Page along side the trade paperback and collected edition episodes which had been on the Comic Book Page podcast as of the episode on the February 2007 data.

The data collection and analysis for all of the Mayo Report podcast episodes and articles on Comic Book Resources was done entirely by me. I provided the information to the others on the segment prior to the record so they would have the benefit of ny analysis and my notes.


The Source of the Data

The core data for the Mayo Report and the charts on this site is the Top Comics and Top Trades lists. This information only include sales in the North American direct market and do not include orders through Diamond UK, orders placed after the end of the month, copies purchsed by Diamond and kept in inventory or sales outside the direct market through sales channels like bookstores and newstand. It is also important it note and this information reflects sales to retailers, not what the readers purchased. The key piece of data that Diamond provides is the Order Index. The way this works is that everything is relative to the sales for the issue of Batman (or top selling issue should more than one come out) for the month. That number of copies is considered to have an Order Index of 100.00. All other comics, trade paperbacks, books and magazines are given each given an Order Index based on how that item sold relative to the issue of Batman. So, if a comic book had an Order Index of 50.00 then it sold half as many copies at Batman. An Order Index of 200.00 means that it sold twice as well as Batman. This information has been provided by courtesy of Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. and used with permission.

As crucial as the information from Diamond is (and without it is would be impossible to do the charts or The Mayo Report), what makes the information much more practical is having it converted from a percentage into a number of copies. There are two main sources with this estimated number of copies: ICv2.com and Comics Buyer's Guide. Both John Jackson Miller at CBG and Milton Griepp follow the same basic process of getting information from various publishers and doing the math to figure out how many copies Batman sold that month. With that Order Index Value it is trivial to figure out how everything else sold for the month. But, since the two use different source data and work through the process slightly differently it is not unusual for the Order Index Value for the month to be slightly different. Usually this difference is extremely small with ICv2 usually being slightly higher. Both of these places are a great source of information an analysis of the numbers.

The information provided by Comics Buyer's Guide has had the title and issue data cleaned up by John Jackson Miller and is used with permission.

Check out the Comic Book Sales Charts and Sales Analysis Pages over at CBG for more information about comic book sales.

The information provided by ICv2.com was originally published on ICv2.com, copyright ( 2014) GCO, LLC., and used with permission.

For more info, see: http://www.icv2.com/articles/news/1850.html.


What the Number Are and Aren't

It is important to remember that are sales estimates and not an exact number of copies sold. Because the Order Index values are rounded to two decimal places, there is a corresponding lack of resolution in the estimates. That statistical inaccuracy each month is about 0.01% of the Order Index value for the month. Since the Order Index could have been rounded either up or down to the two decimal places, half of the range of statistical inaccuracy is above the estimate and the other half is below. If the Order Index value for the month is 500.00 than the estimates have a granularity of 5 copies or ±2.5 copies. Likewise, an Order Index value of 2,500.00 for the month means that the granularity of the estimates is 25 copies or ±12.5 copies.

In the Mayo Report comparisons to the previous issue include the all known reorder activity for the earlier issue.

The other key thing to remember about these sales estimates is that they reflect the sales of comics from the publishers/Diamond to the comic book stores, not sales to the end readers. Even though the buyers in this case are stores, these are sales as far as the publishers are concerned since the comic book market deals in non-returnable sales. There are cases in which comics are returnable such as late comics or comics that end up being different then they were solicated. The vast majority of comics however are nonreturnable. So, while a publisher may list a comic as sold out, it is entirely possible that many retailers still have copies available for sale.

The result of this aspect of the system is that it places the risk on the retailers as they have to order the comics months in advance and try to predict how well they will sell. Many retailers tend to be conservative when ordering rather than risk getting stuck with tons of unmovable merchandise. A result of this is that sometimes the retail community wind up chasing the sales of a title either up or down. Neither is particularly great for the industry as a whole. Retailers that order too many copies end up eating into their profits and tying up money that could have been used on comics that would have sold. Retailers that order too few copies end up making fewer sales than they could have.

While information about the actual comic book sales to readers would be very interesting, don't expect to see that information anytime soon. The main reason for that is that collecting that data is next to impossible given the nature of the comic book market. Most comic book stores are small, independently owned businesses. While some comic book stores are part of a multi-chain store and may have sophisticate sales tracking software, some others are doing good to be able to handle credit cards. The reason book sales to readers can be tracked is because Nielsen BookScan collects data from various retails that is recorded at the time of purchase. When you buy a book at Borders or online at Amazon, that sale is recorded and that information isused to generate the top selling book lists. This relies on the retail outlets collecting the data which usually done by the cash register system when the checkout clerk scans the book with the barcode reader. And while some comic book stores use barcode readers and point of sales software like ComTrac, no system exists to collect this information across the industry and report on it. Even if such a data collection system existed, getting the majority of comic book stores to submit data to it would be a potentially difficult task. So, until that happens, the best data available on comic book sales is from Diamond and reflects sales to the comic book stores.


Order index data provided courtesy of Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. and used with permission.

ICv2 Unit totals originally published on ICv2.com, copyright (2014) GCO, LLC., and used with permission.

For more info, see: http://www.icv2.com/articles/news/1850.html

CBG title and issue data was cleaned up by John Jackson Miller at The Comic Chronicles and is used with permission.

For historical comic book sales information, check out The Comic Chronicles.

Copyright (c) 2014