Newly released book sale numbers for Star Wars: The High Republic provide more evidence that Star Wars is a dead brand.
These book sale numbers from Circana BookScan were shared by Michael Gallagher, author of Body and Blood, and Declan Finn, author of the White Ops novel series, in a newly released article on the Upstream Reviews Substack.
For those unfamiliar with Circana BookScan, the outlet touts its service as “the gold standard data service that tracks actual retail sales of trade print books in the US on a weekly basis through direct reporting from all major retailers. (It includes Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Costco, Target, Walmart, Target, and many other general and specialty retailers selling books, plus over 800 independent bookstores, covering approximately 85 percent of trade print sales in the US.)”
Specifically, the two authors shared that the first Star Wars: The High Republic novel, Star Wars: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule has sold 119,855 issues in a hardcover format.
However, subsequent novels saw massive declines in sales with Cavan Scott’s Star Wars: The Rising Storm HC placing second on the list with only 59,779 sales. In third was Claudia Gray’s Star Wars: The High Republic: Into The Dark HC. It sold 58,249 units.
The fourth entry belongs to Charles Soule with the paperback version of Star Wars: Light of the Jedi. It only sold 38,028 copies. In fifth is Justina Ireland’s Star Wars: The High Republic: A Test of Courage. It sold 37,782 copies.
Not only did they share the declining sales, but they also compared the publishing initiative’s first wave of books to its second wave and determined that Star Wars: The High Republic saw a “90% – 95% drop in sales between the launch with Light of the Jedi and the current High Republic novels in barely over two years.”
Not only do they note that High Republic novels have seen an immense sale collapse from its first to second phases, but the High Republic books’ sales numbers pale in comparison to Expanded Universe stories such as Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire trilogy.
Florida radio station WUWF reported Zahn’s Heir to the Empire trilogy had sold over 15 million copies back in 2014.
Zahn told the outlet at the time, “Nobody knew whether these books were even gonna sell. I remember sitting around one day trying to figure out how many libraries there are in the U.S.- and if they all buy two copies how many can we sell? Can we earn out this book? And as we now know Star Wars fans were simmering there below the surface and just boiled up as soon as there was something to grab onto. And they’ve been going strong ever since.”
Since that interview the two authors also report the trilogy has sold another 5 million more copies even after Kathleen Kennedy and Lucasfilm chose to remove the books from canon in favor of their own Disney canon.
Citing the BookScan numbers they also note that a new box set released in May 2022 has sold 13,031 copies.
Not only do Gallagher and Finn note how dismal the sales for The High Republic are, but they also report that non-High Republic Star Wars books under Kennedy’s regime have dismal sales.
“Since Disney’s takeover of the property, only four books have broken 100,000 copies in sales besides the aforementioned Light of the Jedi; three of them were written by Zahn. The fifth and final was the first Chuck Wendig novel, whose sales wibbled and wobbled their way into a ditch with the following books,” they revealed.
While they don’t provide Zahn’s numbers they note, “The five of them have easily outsold every High Republic novel, and the sixth is only outsold by Light of the Jedi.”
To show just how dismal the sales numbers are for The High Republic, Gallagher and Finn relay that Zahn’s non-Star Wars books have also outsold The High Republic aside from the first one, Soule’s Light of the Jedi.
It’s not just Zahn that’s beating The High Republic, Kevin J. Anderson and Michael Stackpole have also reportedly outsold Lucasfilm’s Star Wars novels with their respective Dune and Battletech novels.
The duo also state, “Pick a well-known science fiction author, they’ve had a book or two outsell the High Republic novels the past couple years: Brandon Sanderson, Sarah J. Maas, Andy Weir, David Weber, Larry Correia, V. E. Schwab, TL Klune, or Anthony Doerr, to name but a few. Hell, even John Scalzi has better numbers.”
Given these numbers the duo observe, “These are numbers for one of the biggest IPs in history, in one of the biggest publishing markets, with one of the biggest promotional pushes behind it in recent memory. It truly is a dead brand. And bittersweet though it can be to express the thought, it deserves to be.”
Finn and Gallagher are not the only ones to declare Star Wars a dead brand. Analyst Valliant Renegade described the brand as such back in October 2022 following the release of the Nielsen ratings for the premiere week of Andor.
He stated, “When they can’t even get a big show like this that they probably spent well north of $100 million to create to barely move the needle; it is one of the worst premieres ever.”
“Especially when you factor in how much watch time they released. Obi-Wan Kenobi released with two episodes totaling 90 minutes,” he says. “This was 120 minutes with three episodes. Book of Boba Fett and The Mandalorian typically released with one episode. And those episodes were often somewhere around 45 minutes. And they ran up better numbers than three episodes of Andor.”
He concluded, “You’re dead Star Wars. Go home.”
What do you make of these Star Wars: The High Republic novel sales figures?