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Superman Sales Figures

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


While DC's flagship character, Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1 in 1938, the more recognizable home for Superman is his eponymous title, started in the summer of 1939.

Superman's sales in the very earliest days are likely in the 200,000 copy range, given the known Audit Bureau information (in January of 1939, Action, Adventure, Detective, and More Fun collectively sold 710,000 copies). That figure almost certainly rose very quickly, with sales over 1 million copies in the 1950s; some advertisements in the period touted astronomical numbers which have yet to be verified.
   
In the 1960s, when sales data began appearing in the title, sales were below a million copies but still stellar relative to the rest of the market; Superman was the #1 title in 1962, 1965, and 1968. (Figures are not available for 1963 and 1964, but Superman likely topped the market in those years, too.)

A long decline began in 1965, only really being reversed when the entire Superman franchise was rebooted. Superman became Adventures of Superman and sales increased dramatically; a new Superman title, starting over with #1, sold even more. It was that title that posted colossal, million-copy topping sales again in 1993 when Superman "died" in its 75th issue; Adventures, part of the same storyline, shared in the success. The 500th issue of Adventures, when Superman began his return from the dead, had orders of more than 700,000 copies at Capital City Distribution and likely more than 2 million copies overall.

Adventures continued through the 1990s as part of a weekly cycle with the other Superman titles; cover numbers in triangles told readers which series to read in what order. In 2006, DC restored the original title to the series, giving Superman its numeric legacy back with issue #650. That run ended with #714 and the DC relaunch in 2011, and the series was rebooted yet again in 2016.

Some direct-market only information is available in the monthly reports.

 

19601961196219631964
Issue Statement appearing in:#143 Feb#151 Feb#159 Feb#167 Feb#176 April
Date of filing:10/1/6010/1/6110/1/6210/1/6310/1/64
Issues published during year:888
Annual subscription price:$1.15$0.95$0.95
Cover price during year:$0.10$0.10$0.12$0.12$0.12
Total Copies PRINTED (avg):
Sales through DEALERS (avg):
Sales by SUBSCRIPTION (avg):
Total PAID circulation (avg):810,000820,000740,000 not published not published
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:#188 July#194 Feb.#205 Apr.#215 Apr.#225 Apr
Date of filing:10/1/6510/1/6610/1/6710/1/6810/1/69
Issues published during year:810101010
Annual subscription price:$1.15$1.75$1.75
Cover price during year:$0.12$0.12$0.12$0.12$0.15
Total Copies PRINTED (avg):1,179,0001,091,0001,140,0001,076,000959,000
Sales through DEALERS (avg):805,000707,000640,000634,000511,000
Sales by SUBSCRIPTION (avg):18,82912,9769,3002,400984
Total PAID circulation (avg):823,829719,976649,300636,400511,984
Samples by MAIL (avg):142330340386346
Samples OUTSIDE mail (avg):00000
Total FREE circulation (avg):142330340386346
TOTAL DISTRIBUTION:823,971720,306649,640636,786512,330
Copies not distributed (office):
Copies not distributed (RETURNS):355,029370,694490,360439,214446,670
Reported % Paid/Requested:
% of RUN RETURNED:30.1%34.0%43.0%40.8%46.6%
Copies existent:823,971720,306649,640636,786512,330
SELL-THROUGH at RETAIL:69.9%66.0%57.0%59.1%53.4%
19701971197219731974
Issue Statement appearing in:#235 March#249 March#262 March#274 April#287 May
Date of filing:10/1/7010/1/7110/1/7210/1/7310/1/74
Issues published during year:1010121212
Annual subscription price:$2.50$2.40$3.00$3.00
Cover price during year:$0.15$0.25$0.20$0.20$0.25
Total Copies PRINTED (avg):859,811793,000704,000670,667590,080
Sales through DEALERS (avg):446,019421,790316,617307,425282,462
Sales by SUBSCRIPTION (avg):6591581,3731,8933,172
Total PAID circulation (avg):446,678421,948317,990309,318285,634
Samples by MAIL (avg):1270518100100
Samples OUTSIDE mail (avg):00000
Total FREE circulation (avg):1270518100100
TOTAL DISTRIBUTION:446,805421,948318,508309,418285,734
Copies not distributed (office):6176894,0619,962
Copies not distributed (RETURNS):413,006370,435384,803357,188294,384
Reported % Paid/Requested:
% of RUN RETURNED:48.0%46.7%54.7%53.3%49.9%
Copies existent:446,805422,565319,197313,479295,696
SELL-THROUGH at RETAIL:52.0%53.2%45.2%46.1%48.4%
19751976197719781979
Issue Statement appearing in:#299 May#311 May#323 May#334 Apr#346 Apr
Date of filing:10/1/7510/1/7610/1/7710/1/7810/1/79
Issues published during year:1212121212
Annual subscription price:$3.00$3.00$5.00$6.75$6.75
Cover price during year:$0.30$0.30$0.35$0.40$0.40
Total Copies PRINTED (avg):644,000634,000584,689599,722524,353
Sales through DEALERS (avg):293,000270,000232,416220,810244,663
Sales by SUBSCRIPTION (avg):3,0003,0003,0142,4121,613
Total PAID circulation (avg):296,000273,000235,430223,222246,276
Samples by MAIL (avg):1,0001,000400109200
Samples OUTSIDE mail (avg):00000
Total FREE circulation (avg):1001,000400109200
TOTAL DISTRIBUTION:297,000274,000235,830223,331246,476
Copies not distributed (office):5,0002,0002,1704,520122
Copies not distributed (RETURNS):342,000358,000346,861371,871277,755
Reported % Paid/Requested:
% of RUN RETURNED:53.1%56.5%59.3%62.0%53.0%
Copies existent:302,000276,000238,000227,851246,598
SELL-THROUGH at RETAIL:46.0%43.1%40.3%37.2%47.0%
19801981198219831984
Issue Statement appearing in:#359 May#371 May#383 May#394 Apr#407 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):425,231394,207365,516332,367296,224
Sales through DEALERS (avg):176,138145,603136,931124,103108,954
Sales by SUBSCRIPTION (avg):2,8083,0343,0752,1762,119
Total PAID circulation (avg):178,946148,637140,006126,279111,073
Samples by MAIL (avg):327127677805236
Samples OUTSIDE mail (avg):00000
Total FREE circulation (avg):327127677805236
TOTAL DISTRIBUTION:179,273148,764140,683127,084111,309
Copies not distributed (office):3,8573,8854,3483,7753,995
Copies not distributed (RETURNS):252,101241,558220,485201,508180,920
Reported % Paid/Requested:
% of RUN RETURNED:59.3%61.3%60.3%60.6%61.1%
Copies existent:183,130152,649145,031130,859115,304
SELL-THROUGH at RETAIL:42.1%37.7%38.3%38.0%37.5%
19851986198719881989
Issue Statement appearing in:#418 April#427 Apr#439 Apr
Date of filing:10/1/8510/1/8610/5/87
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):270,577239,837307,033
Sales through DEALERS (avg):96,68695,968159,327
Sales by SUBSCRIPTION (avg):2,0812,4752,532
Total PAID circulation (avg):98,76798,443161,859
Samples by MAIL (avg):125162979
Samples OUTSIDE mail (avg):000
Total FREE circulation (avg):125162979
TOTAL DISTRIBUTION:98,89298,605162,838
Copies not distributed (office):2,7792,2034,982
Copies not distributed (RETURNS):168,906139,029139,213
Reported % Paid/Requested:
% of RUN RETURNED:62.4%58.0%45.3%
Copies existent:101,671100,808167,820
SELL-THROUGH at RETAIL:36.5%41.0%52.7%







STATEMENT HISTORY

Statements of Ownership appeared for many years in the title before DC (or, rather, National Periodical Publications) was required to publish sales figures beginning in 1960. As with other DC titles, DC did not print sales figures in its Statements in 1963 and 1964. Errors also appeared in 1979 and 1980, as the print runs published do not equal the number of copies broken out in the narrower categories.

In 1986, DC changed the name of Superman to Adventures of Superman; the subscriptions went with the renamed title. No subscription numbers appeared in the new Superman title (Vol. 2) that began in 1986.

DC stopped mailing subscription copies Second Class in 1987, putting an end to its need to publish circulation statements.