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Batman Sales Figures

Circulation as Reported in Publishers' Statements of Ownership
Filed with the United States Postal Service, 1960-1987

Batman had first appeared in Detective Comics #27 in May 1939 — but it wasn't until 1940 that the Caped Crusader had a title under his own name. Batman thrived, entering the 1960s as one of the higher-selling titles — although Superman's titles, from the same publisher, regularly did better.

That changed in 1966 when ABC-TV aired the first season of the Batman TV show, launching the comics series to the top of the sales charts in 1967. It would remain in the top ten for the duration of the program's run.

By 1970 "Batmania" was on the wane (no pun intended), with sales a third of what they had been four years earlier. The frequency had increased to monthly by the early 1970s, and the title included a number of larger-sized issues (including 100-page specials) in the period. The trend continued downward except for bumps in 1976 and 1979.

Finally, in the last two years in which postal sales were reported in the title, sales increased, thanks to attention drawn to the character by Frank Miller in The Dark Knight Returns. Average reported sales for 1987 shot up dramatically due to the "Year One" storyline Miller ran in the Batman series itself.

After DC stopped shipping Second Class in 1987 — eliminating its need to file postal reports — the title saw some of its loftiest sales, including following the release of the 1989 film and in the 1990s during the "Knightfall" storyline. Even after those huge-number days, there were periodic returns to the top of the charts in storylines like 2003's "Hush." In 2011, DC ended the main series at #713 to reboot the title as part of its "New 52" — which lasted 52 issues before another restart in 2016 with "Rebirth." By that time, Batman was regularly DC's top seller, just as it had been in the late 1960s.

For later years, some information is available in the monthly reports.

—John Jackson Miller


 

19601961196219631964
Issue Statement appearing in:#137 Feb.#145 Feb#153 Feb#161 Feb.#170 March
Date of filing:9/20/6010/1/6110/1/6210/1/6310/1/64
Issues published during year:88888
Annual subscription price:$1.00$1.15$1.15$0.95$0.95
Cover price during year:$0.10$0.12$0.12$0.12$0.12
Total Copies PRINTED (avg):
Sales through DEALERS (avg):
Sales by SUBSCRIPTION (avg):
Total PAID circulation (avg):502,000485,000410,000no data printedno data printed
Samples by MAIL (avg):
Samples OUTSIDE mail (avg):
Total FREE circulation (avg):
TOTAL DISTRIBUTION:
Copies not distributed (office):
Copies not distributed (RETURNS):
Reported % Paid/Requested:
% of RUN RETURNED:
Copies existent:
SELL-THROUGH at RETAIL:
19651966196719681969
Issue Statement appearing in: #183 August #189 Feb#200 Mar#210 March#220 March
Date of filing:10/1/6510/1/6610/1/6710/1/6810/1/69
Issues published during year:810101010
Annual subscription price:$0.88$0.88$0.88$0.88No subs
Cover price during year:$0.12$0.12$0.12$0.12$0.15
Total Copies PRINTED (avg):694,0001,170,0001,198,000941,000723,000
Sales through DEALERS (avg):448,000889,000794,000531,000355,000
Sales by SUBSCRIPTION (avg):5,7459,47011,7002,450782
Total PAID circulation (avg):453,745898,470805,700533,450355,782
Samples by MAIL (avg):142330340386346
Samples OUTSIDE mail (avg):00000
Total FREE circulation (avg):142330340386346
TOTAL DISTRIBUTION:453,887898,800806,040533,836356,128
Copies not distributed (office):
Copies not distributed (RETURNS):240,113271,200391,960407,164366,872
Reported % Paid/Requested:
% of RUN RETURNED:34.6%23.2%32.7%43.3%50.7%
Copies existent:453,887898,800806,040533,836356,128
SELL-THROUGH at RETAIL:65.4%76.8%67.3%56.7%49.2%
19701971197219731974
Issue Statement appearing in:#230 March#240 March#248 April#256 May/June#263 May
Date of filing:10/1/7010/1/7110/1/7210/1/7310/1/74
Issues published during year:10108612
Annual subscription price:No subs$3.00$3.00$3.00$3.00
Cover price during year:$0.15$0.25$0.20$0.20$0.25
Total Copies PRINTED (avg):597,716478,125404,000390,625402,840
Sales through DEALERS (avg):293,384244,215183,813199,072190,375
Sales by SUBSCRIPTION (avg):5132731,4701,5022,848
Total PAID circulation (avg):293,897244,488185,283200,574193,223
Samples by MAIL (avg):1270518100100
Samples OUTSIDE mail (avg):00000
Total FREE circulation (avg):1270518100100
TOTAL DISTRIBUTION:294,024244,488185,801200,674193,323
Copies not distributed (office):7172,4394,392
Copies not distributed (RETURNS):303,692233,410217,482187,512205,125
Reported % Paid/Requested:
% of RUN RETURNED:50.8%48.8%53.8%48.0%50.9%
Copies existent:294,024244,488186,518203,113197,715
SELL-THROUGH at RETAIL:49.2%51.1%45.9%51.3%48.0%
19751976197719781979
Issue Statement appearing in:#275 May#287 May#299 May#310 April#322 April
Date of filing:10/1/7510/1/7610/1/7710/1/7810/1/79
Issues published during year:1212121212
Annual subscription price:$3.00$3.60$5.00$6.75$6.75
Cover price during year:$0.30$0.30$0.40$0.40$0.40
Total Copies PRINTED (avg):359,000423,000375,647375,079333,231
Sales through DEALERS (avg):152,000175,000148,219123,739165,623
Sales by SUBSCRIPTION (avg):2,0003,0002,6341,6821,017
Total PAID circulation (avg):154,000178,000150,853125,421166,640
Samples by MAIL (avg):1,0001,0004001090
Samples OUTSIDE mail (avg):00000
Total FREE circulation (avg):1,0001,0004001090
TOTAL DISTRIBUTION:155,000179,000151,253125,530166,640
Copies not distributed (office):3,0004,0001,8572,390122
Copies not distributed (RETURNS):201,000240,000222,537247,159166,469
Reported % Paid/Requested:
% of RUN RETURNED:56.0%56.7%59.2%65.9%50.0%
Copies existent:158,000183,000153,110127,920166,762
SELL-THROUGH at RETAIL:42.9%42.1%40.2%33.4%50.0%
19801981198219831984
Issue Statement appearing in:#335 May#347 May#359 May#370 April#383 May
Date of filing:10/1/8010/1/8110/1/8210/1/8310/1/84
Issues published during year:1212121212
Annual subscription price:$7.95$7.20$7.20$9.00$9.00
Cover price during year:$0.50$0.60$0.60$0.75$0.75
Total Copies PRINTED (avg):301,102280,913275,830246,587214,465
Sales through DEALERS (avg):127,274108,759105,89596,06787,500
Sales by SUBSCRIPTION (avg):2,0252,2382,3391,6741,717
Total PAID circulation (avg):129,299110,997108,23497,74189,217
Samples by MAIL (avg):1271276771,674246
Samples OUTSIDE mail (avg):00000
Total FREE circulation (avg):1271276771,674246
TOTAL DISTRIBUTION:129,426110,994108,91198,54589,463
Copies not distributed (office):3,6083,3992,7031,9082,615
Copies not distributed (RETURNS):168,068166,390164,216146,134122,387
Reported % Paid/Requested:
% of RUN RETURNED:55.8%59.2%59.5%59.3%57.1%
Copies existent:133,034114,523111,614101,32392,078
SELL-THROUGH at RETAIL:42.9%39.5%39.2%39.6%41.6%
19851986198700
Issue Statement appearing in:#394 April#406 Apr#419 May
Date of filing:10/1/8510/1/8610/1/87
Issues published during year:121212
Annual subscription price:$9.00$9.00$9.00
Cover price during year:$0.75$0.75$0.75
Total Copies PRINTED (avg):195,602187,309294,779
Sales through DEALERS (avg):73,48787,637191,111
Sales by SUBSCRIPTION (avg):1,8172,1101,889
Total PAID circulation (avg):75,30389,747193,000
Samples by MAIL (avg):127163980
Samples OUTSIDE mail (avg):000
Total FREE circulation (avg):127163980
TOTAL DISTRIBUTION:75,43089,910193,980
Copies not distributed (office):1,8612,94115,947
Copies not distributed (RETURNS):118,31094,45884,852
Reported % Paid/Requested:
% of RUN RETURNED:60.5%50.4%28.8%
Copies existent:77,29292,851209,927
SELL-THROUGH at RETAIL:38.5%47.9%65.5%




Statement history
Statements of Ownership ran in Batman long before 1960, when the government began requiring them to report circulation figures. DC published those figures in the Statements from 1960 to 1962, rounding figures off to the nearest thousand. But in 1963 and 1964, as it did with much of its line, DC ran statements in Batman without sales figures again. (These appeared in #161 and #170. This happened again in 1965, only for DC to return in the August cover-dated issue of the year with a revised Statement including sales figures.

Statements then appeared consistently in the title until 1987. Thereafter, DC switched from mailing subscription copies Second Class to mailing them First Class, exempting the publisher from the need to publish the statements. Thus, less than half the run of the title includes postal circulation information.