Selling Graphic Novels to Kids

At San Diego Comic-Con on July 19, 2019, ComicsPRO hosted a seminar entitled “Selling Graphic Novels to Kids”. Here is the PDF of the presentation. In the PDF you will find a list of top selling kids graphic novels, a recent history of kids graphic novel sales, plus a list of distributors that supply kids graphic novels.

The main presentation was given by Vice-President of the ComicPRO Board and former educator Jenn Haines (The Dragon, Guelph Canada),

Publisher Filip Sablik (BOOM!), Senior Editor Whitney Leopard (RH Graphic), VP and Executive Editor Michele Wells (DC), and ComicsPRO Executive Director Marco Davanzo (moderator), rounded out the panel and discussed the intricacies of the Kids and Young Adult market.

We started off by mentioning that in 2018, in the book market, kids graphic novel sales grew by 33%. Huge number! It was more than enough to counteract the 2% drop in adult graphic novel sales, to equal a 12% overall growth in the book market.

At the same time, the Direct Market sales of graphic novels at Diamond fell by 8%. This was the first year that the share of Direct Market sales of graphic novels was under 50%.

We discussed the reasons for this.

One of the main reasons being people’s expectations regarding Kids Graphic Novels.

  • Parents expect to find this product at book stores but not necessarily comic stores.
  • Publishers expect to sell kids graphic novels better at book stores than comic stores.
  • Comic Book Stores don’t expect to sell a lot of Kids Graphic Novels.

Additionally, kids graphic novels tend to have lower profit margins when sourcing through Diamond. (Except for the titles being offered by the premier publishers).

We brought up the example of Scholastic which represents 33% of the children’s graphic novel sales in the book market. Retailers ordering through Diamond get 42% discount on reorders and when one factors in shipping which ranges from 3% to 8%, the actual discount is 34% to 39%. That is quite a difference from the 50% with free shipping that retailers can expect it they go direct with Scholastic. Plus retailers can get the books quicker than they can get them at Diamond.

We then listed all the the big selling titles which included such staples as Dog Man and the Raina Telgemeier books (Drama, Smiles, Sisters, Baby-Sitter’s Club)

Representatives from DC, BOOM!, and RH Graphic were on hand to discuss what’s selling well for them – what they see as the difference between the Direct Market and the Book Market.

We talked about age ranges of graphic novels – that Young Adult (Y/A) is different from Middle Ages which is different from Kids. We talked about labeling.

We also discussed that at some other distributors, retailers may get some books that they cannot get at Diamond because Diamond has either stopped carrying the books, never carried them in the first place, or are temporarily out of stock. We showed that in June 2019, out of the top 20 kids graphic novels, Diamond didn’t carry 3 of them and 4 of them were temporarily out of stock. So on that particular day, 7 out of top 20 selling kids graphic novels were not available to be ordered through Diamond.

We told retailers that they had choices in where to get their kids items. We didn’t recommend any specific Distributor but we did explain the difference in terms, services, etc.

For some small retailers, who might not concentrate on selling kids graphic novels, they probably will get 100% of their books from Diamond. But for others who are bigger and need better discounts, more complete inventory, or quicker turnaround, they might use multiple distributors.

An idea that was floated at the meeting was that Diamond should have a Children’s graphic novel brand manager who could make sure that the proper things were in stock, could educate retailers, and could work with management to make the kids space more profitable.


We also mentioned that if retailers wanted more information about Selling Kids Graphic Novels, they should participate in a seminar run by Jenn Haines, sponsored by the CBLDF, entitled Retailing to Schools and Libraries. It was held earlier in the year and will probably be repeated sometime later this year.

Also, a good article to read to familiarize yourself with the Graphic Novel industry is Brian Hibbs recent article about Bookscan. He covers the major publishers, titles, and market share 2018.

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