This time last year I translated a summary of annual bande dessinée sales activity in France. Lo and behold, the good people of toutenbd.com have posted the 2012 report by the Association of Bande Dessinee Journalists and Critics (l'ACBD).
It would appear that despite the stalling economy of France, and of Europe more generally, activity in graphic novel publishing, buying and reading remains reasonably healthy, though the stagnant economy is not without implications for the industry.
In the interests of spreading the word about bande dessinée to English language readers, here's my translation of the toutenbd summary. If you would prefer the original text, you can read it here in French.
Bande dessinnee 2012: proliferation and polarisation
The annual meeting of the Association of Critics and Journalists of Bande Dessinée has again noted the increased number of books published but also that four publishers largely dominate the sector.
The traditional annual report from the general secretary of the Association of Critics and Journalists of Bande Dessinée (ACBD) Gilles Ratier, has been handed down for 2012. For the seventeenth consecutive year the number of books (albums) published has increased: 4.28% growth from 2011, to 5,565 books published in 2012, of which 4,109 were new titles.
The growth of new titles is in four distinct areas: Franco-Belgian bande dessinée; manga; American comics (genre comics); graphic novels and experimental books, creating a more complicated arrangement of titles and presentation of albums in bookshops, Gilles Ratier reported.
Eighty-nine series or complete works of authors succeeded in selling more than 50,000 copies (ten less than for 2011) and providing the industry's core sales. The five highest sales are: one million copies of volume 13 of Titeuf by Zep (published by Glénat); 450,000 sales for the fifth Lucky Luke by Daniel Pennac, Tonino Benacquista and Achdé (Lucky Comics); 440,000 copies of Largo Winch, volume 18, by Jean van Hamme et Philippe Francq (Dupuis); 440,000 copies of Blake and Mortimer, volume 21, by Yves Sente and André Juillard; and 350,000 sales for XIII, volume 21, by Yves Sente and Iouri Jigounov (Dagard Benelux). In regard to manga, it's no surprise that Naruto, with three new titles each selling 225,000 (Kana); One Piece with five books between 135,000 and 165,000 (Glénat) and Fairy Tale's six titles each selling 85,000 (Pika).
As in previous years, the report notes a strong segmentation within the market: four groups - Delcourt (Akata, Tonkam, Soleil Manga and Quadrants), Media-Participations (Dargaud, Kana, Le Lombard, Dupuis, Graton, Blake and Mortimer, Lucky Comics, Fleurus/Edifa/Mame, Mediatoon Publishing, Huginn & Muninn, Urban Comics), Glénat (Comics, Disney, Mangas, Treize étrange et Vents d'Ouest) and Gallimard (Casterman, KSTR, AUDIE/Fluide glacial, Jungle, Denoel Graphic and Futuroplis) - dominating the production and activity in the sector with 44.87% of production, and that 326 publishers and/or imprints published bande dessinee in 2012 (against 316 in 2011).
Once again, development around digital publishing of bande dessinee is very cautious, so that those concerned with digital publishing more concerned with creating digital imprints (Iznéo, digiBiDi, etc) than the creation of purely digital content (Plumzi, for example).
The legal access progressed less quickly than the pirate copies (10,000 titles are easily accessible according to the l'Observatoire du livre et de l'ecrit en Ile-de-France) with hardly 6,000 available. On the other hand, crowd-sourcing is established with Sandawe (28 projects drawing together half-a-million euros), My Major Company (17 projects, 172,000 euros) and Ulule (14 projects, 26,000 euros) who come together and are launching print publications.
Buzzcomics draws on the l'ACBD report to show the extent of events for Franco-Belgian comics, including festivals, fairs, markets. They note that in francophone Europe in 2012, there were 489 festivals, fairs, markets and industry gattherings - and that the extent of this activity is continuing to expand, particularly in France.