Back in January 2010 something unprecedented began. The anime adaptation of a light novel series with fairly average sales started airing. Nothing unusual about that, you might think, although it was one of the lowest selling series to ever get a 2-cour anime adaptation*. That anime series then produced a boost to the light novel sales. Nothing unusual about that either. This sales boost was enough to get the backlog volumes to appear on the weekly rankings fairly consistently. That is unusual but nothing exceptional.
However, the end result of this is something that has, at least as far as there is data for, never happened either before or since. In the year end rankings, Durarara!! had four of the five bestselling light novel volumes of 2010. Sword Art Online managed the same in 2012, but in Durarara!!’s case it was all old volumes, and not newly released ones – in other words, volumes that were there purely thanks to the anime boost. When you consider that SAO pre-anime had sales that were many times higher than the equivalent for Durarara!!** this becomes even more spectacular (SAO’s sales boost for volume 1 was slightly larger in actual terms, though).
But the anime fans who picked up these books were a fickle lot, and sales of the series dropped away hard with every new volume – drops of more than 20% from one volume to the next being normal***. The latest volume (of the sequel series) sold just 31k copies before dropping out of the weekly rankings. If it weren’t for the relatively newly available monthly rankings, Durarara would thus be the only series on record where a later volume sold less than 10% of an earlier one (with both volumes ranking).
But now, in January 2015, we have the start of a second season of the anime. In the rather odd format of three split cours.
There are a lot of people out there sitting with the first few volumes of this series on their bookshelves, or stashed away in the cupboard or crate somewhere. There is thus, in theory, a huge potential market for the books to get a big sales boost without the series even gaining any new fans – a fairly unprecedented state. All the series has to do is remind the people who bought a volume or two before that it exists, and why they went out and bought those books.
5 years is a long gap between two anime series, though. Will that work against the series, on account of a lot of people who watched back then may have stopped following, or changed to liking a different type of story or simply forgotten everything that happened? Or will it work in the series’ favour, bringing in a new fanbase that wasn’t even around when the first season aired, and reminding people who had completely forgotten about the series’ existance that yes, that was a rather good series, wasn’t it?
Can history possibly, just possibly, repeat itself?
Personally, I think it has a fairly good chance of far exceeding any other sales boost from the second season of a light novel adaptation in history. Only time will tell, though.
*Tokyo Ravens is the only one in the last 3 years which did not have significantly higher sales before the 2 cours anime began.
**The actual sales data for Durarara!! before the anime aired is patchy, but from the data we have I would say that slightly under 20k sales per volume is the right sort of range.
*** volume 10’s first 3 weeks sales were 128827, volume 11’s were 100212, volume 12’s were 71412
Neat recap. I wasn’t aware of the part where it was maily older volumes ranking on the year-end summary. Even if SH’s long tail actually pulls it even with v13, that’s still quite a chunk of lost sales from the peak.
Quick question – it seems that alternative explanation of the dropoff over time would be that people stopped buying the volumes right away and the tails got longer (in weeks), as opposed to smaller (in sales). Do we know from the yearlies that people didn’t just buy the later volumes on a more protracted basis?
There’s no directly comparable data as the sales are all for a different number of months. Here’s the sales and full amount of time we have data for for every volume that came out after the anime started:
Volume 7 – 194372 sales in 10 months (yearly rankings 2010)
Volume 8 – 130804 sales in 1 month (I don’t have data for outside the top 10 volumes for 2010 so this doesn’t appear on the yearly rankings)
Volume 9 – 185084 sales in 9 months (yearly rankings 2011)
Volume 10 – 159002 sales in 3 months (yearly rankings 2011)
Volume 11 – 133564 sales in 6 months (yearly rankings 2012)
Volume 12 – 78768 sales in 1 month (failed to make yearly rankings)
Volume 13 – 95058 sales in 4 months (first half 2014 – failed to make yearly rankings)
SH 1 – 45275 sales in 1 month (failed to make either half yearly or yearly rankings)
SH 2 – 35024 sales in 1 month (came out in October so was never likely to make the yearly rankings)
That still looks like a pretty convincing drop in sales, particularly from volume 10 onwards.
I still see that as something that could be explained by longer tails b/c people less frequently notice a release as soon as it’s out. The only huge outliers are SH (which could be explained by people not knowing it exist/poor advertising), since the last 2 regular vols are being compared with yearly totals and we don’t know how their tails compared.
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Ignore volume 12, which we can’t see the long tail for, and look at volumes 10, 11 and 13. Those are very big sales drops.