Graphic niche:
ISV2 has a report estimating U.S. sales of graphic novels to have been $205m in 2004, with manga taking $140m of that. If ISV2’s estimates are good, they imply that the U.S. now has a $65m market for non-manga graphic novels. I’d guess-timate that perhaps 80 percent of that $65m comes from sales of Western ‘superhero/genre/franchise’ graphic novels. So what remains is a paltry $13m from sales of innovative/personal graphic novels, suggesting total unit sales for these of roughly one million. Yes, a million sales is not bad. Yes, the overall U.S. market for graphic-novels is growing, although not as fast as in 2003 – probably because the audience’s spending power couldn’t quite swallow all the 1,000+ English-language manga novels (almost all SF&F/shojo) released in the USA in 2004. But it seems that the market for Anglosphere-grown innovative/personal graphic novels is still a miniscule niche in the shrinking $54-billion U.S. book publishing market, and one in which many individual creatives will have a hard time making a living. Perhaps Open Source webcomics could be a viable route for some?