Newsarama is reporting that Wal-Mart has gone ahead and set up graphic novel sections in 50 of their U.S. stores to test on whether further expansion is warranted.
Calvin Reid at Publisher’s Weekly has reported that Diamond Book Distributors (DBD), the book trade unit of Diamond Comic Distributors, is in “discussions with the retailer [Wal-Mart] to set up dedicated graphic novel sections.
DBD Vice President Kuo-Yu Liang commented on the discussions calling it “a great example of a lot of comics people working behind the scenes toward a much bigger project at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart wants to be a part of this. Manga is first but other graphic novels are coming.”
Recently Viz Media, LLC, the San Francisco based Japanese American manga, anime, and entertainment company expanded their manga titles to more than 2,000 Wal-Mart stores.
The expansion into Wal-Mart is a reflection of the popularity of the graphic novel media. Neilsen Bookscan, which reports on sales in about 80% of the bookstore market, reported that the “graphic novel market overall is improving: U.S. graphic novel print unit sales rose 22% in 2015 over 2014.”
What is causing this meteoric rise in sales? Liang points out a number of different factors from their marketing strategies on books like March that colleges are making required freshman reading to the diversification of genres that has brought in new readers. Liang notes, “There’s a graphic novel for everyone these days, crime, romance, adventure, kids books.” He also pointed out how television shows and movies with comic book tie-ins are also driving sales. He notes this year, “it’s the 50th anniversary of Star Trek [and] a Teen Age (sic) Mutant Ninja [Turtles] movie is coming.”
It looks like Wal-Mart will be joining a robust graphic novel industry while also continuing to expand the number of people who will have access to the medium.