Whiles sales figures for print comics in the direct market are readily available, publishers have been notoriously guarded with their digital sales. But in this article over at Cnet, DC Entertainment’s Senior Vice-President of Digital, Hank Kanalz, drops a figure:
Kanalz revealed, though, that the recent issue of Justice League which depicted a kiss between Wonder Woman and Superman was the fastest to ever reach 10,000 books sold digitally, which means that it sold more than that. Since that issue of Justice League, August’s number 12, was estimated to have hit around 160,000 books sold in print, we can start making some educated guesses about digital sales — at least for popular titles.
These numbers track against the news from many comics publishers, including DC Comics, at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con that digital sales were buoying print sales.
Now granted, this is for a heavily-hyped special issue of their top selling title. But still, it helps put the entire digital market in perspective, relative to print sales. And of course, excluding some minor overhead (digital file conversions and digital distributor’s cut), those sales translate into pure profit on top of the print book sales.
Regarding the second point made in the quote above, while the audiences for print and digital seem to be fairly distinct right now, I suspect as the hardcore comic book collectors leave the hobby (or die!) they won’t be replaced. The print market will probably shrink, and the new fans will come to the medium via digital.