Comic book sales grew 9% in 2020, despite the pandemic. A godsend for booksellers.
While the publishing market has shrunk by nearly 5% due to the pandemic, comics have more than ever played their role as a locomotive and helped many booksellers survive lockdowns and the decline in the number of new releases ( printing works closed).
The number of copies sold in the Francophonie increased by 9%, to 53.1 million (against 40 million albums in 2016), and turnover increased by 6%, to 591 million euros ( 636 million francs) in 2020, according to figures from the GfK institute. In France, where one in five books sold is a comic book, this segment has reached an 18% market share.
In Switzerland too
The finding is similar in French-speaking Switzerland. “In the weeks leading up to Christmas, seven out of ten books featured in the bestsellers were comics,” notes Pascal Vandenberghe, Chairman and CEO of Payot SA. “Comics represent around a third of book sales, and the acceleration of comic book sales on our site during the lockdown enabled us to end the year with a good development,” says Fnac Switzerland. Small independent, generalist bookstores are not left out. At La Méridienne in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Chantal Nicolet Schori was able to count on “Lucky Luke, whose“ Un cow-boy dans le coton ”has sold a lot”.
“People had more reading time.”
It appears in the top 3 of the best sales of the year, alongside the latest volume of the adventures of Blake & Mortimer, “Le cri du Moloch”, and the 5etome of the autobiography of Riad Sattouf, “The Arab of the future”. “We also sold the first four volumes a lot, proof that people who discovered this author had more reading time,” she observes. Other successes, behind these heavyweights, the regional ones of the stage: the graphic novel “Anaïs Nin: Sur la mer des mensonges”, by Genevoise Léonie Bischoff, winner of the France Télévisions public prize at the Angoulême Festival on Friday, and ” Le siècle d’Emma ”, by Fanny Vaucher and Éric Burnand, published by Éditions Antipodes in Lausanne, boosted by the prize of the Delémont comic book festival.
The formidable vitality of comics would obviously not be what it is in the strike force of manga, with headliners such as the “One Piece” or “Naruto” series, 62% read by an audience of 15 at 29, according to GfK. Manga sales grew 18%, and now represent 42% of all comic book sales in 2020.