The numbers are what the numbers are.
And sometimes the numbers are incorrect…
A funny thing happened with the January 2008 data from Diamond: sales were up on a lot of titles. There were 129 advances compared to only 92 declines. As I discussed last month, declines usually outpace advances by a wide margin. Even with the unbelievable number of advances, the total of 254,526 units gained was still significantly less than the total of 459,168 units lost in January. Provided the data is correct and there are a couple of reasons to suspect that it isn't.
But the major red flag that something was wrong was the 93.11% drop in sales for "Amazing Spider-Man" #549 to an estimated 7,242 units. Likewise, the 94.14% drop for "Uncanny X-Men" #495 to 6,191 units was equally unreal. Particularly since both of those issues shipped in February 2008 and the data was for the prior month of January 2008.
As happens from time to time, things went sour and the result was incorrect data. This isn't the first time that the Diamond data has been incorrect or that the people that analyze the data every month noticed. The question wasn't if the data was incorrect but how it was wrong and why.
I make my living as a database administrator and programmer. I've been getting paid to do this sort of data collection and analysis for over two decades. I have no insights into the process Diamond uses to generate the monthly top sellers lists. What we all do know is this is a process that has been in place inside Diamond in one form or another for over 25 years. Systems that old evolve over time can take on a life of their own, particularly systems that don't contribute to the bottom line. As interesting as it is to have the sales information each month, producing that monthly report is a process than costs Diamond money while earning none.
But the bottom line is that the January data that Diamond first released was incorrect.
In the past when mistakes have been spotted sometimes Diamond releases updated data, sometimes it doesn't. Given the scale of the anomalies this time, they released corrected information. But, really, it is a matter of what caused the incorrect data, why, and what it would take to fix the problem and release a corrected data set. Diamond doesn't have to release this information at all much less correct it if is wrong. Obviously they did correct it but they aren't obligated to do so.
As always, if you have any questions or comments on these numbers and what they do and don’t mean, please feel free to .