Japan Data

Japan Comic Sales Reach Record High of ¥693 Billion in 2023

Economy Culture

Comic sales continue to rise in Japan, with increases in sales of electronic formats more than making up for declines in print circulation.

In 2023, the estimated total sales of print and electronic comic books and magazines in Japan increased year-on-year by 2.5% to ¥693.7 billion, achieving a third consecutive record annual high, according to the All Japan Magazine and Book Publishers’ and Editors’ Association and the Research Institute for Publications. The share of comics sales within the publishing market increased by 2.0 percentage points to 43.5%.

In 2020, annual sales of comics exceeded ¥600 billion for the first time, driven by the increased demand from people spending more time at home during the pandemic, and now the market scale is on the cusp of ¥700 billion.

Comic Market Sales in Japan

By type of media, sales of e-comics read on smartphones and other mobile devices increased year-on-year by 7.8% to ¥483 billion, while print-based comic books in the tankōbon digest format fell by 8.2% to ¥161 billion. Comic magazines also decreased by 7.4% to ¥49.7 billion. Comics in the public eye due to anime adaptations, such as Oshi no Ko (published by Shūeisha) and Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End (Shōgakukan) have enjoyed strong sales, but generally sales of print-based comic books have centered on a handful of popular titles.

Looking at recent trends, sales of print-based comic books grew significantly in 2020 and 2021, but began to decline in 2022, and by the following year had dropped below the pre-pandemic 2019 level. In contrast, the market for e-comics has nearly doubled compared to level of 2019.

Weekly Shōnen Jump, a comic anthology published by Shūeisha, had a reported circulation of 6.53 million copies in 1994, but that has fallen to 1.13 million (based on the average number of copies printed in October to December 2023, as announced by the Japan Magazine Publishers Association). At the same time, Shūeisha is actively engaged in the e-comics market, distributing comics through its mobile app and website Shōnen Jump+.

The diagram below shows the number of copies printed for major weekly comic magazines aimed at the youth market. The print circulations of Weekly Shōnen Magazine and Weekly Shōnen Sunday have decreased by almost half over the past five years.

Major Weekly Comic Print Sales

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

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