Comics and graphic novels are an exciting, hybrid medium. They allow readers to experience stories through image and text alike, similar to the way they experience media on mobile devices. Comics and graphic novels are a genre for today’s cultural moment – and perhaps fittingly – the best insights into the demographics of Comics readers comes from Facebook. Graphic Policy compiles a monthly survey based on Facebook likes, which has shown a steady increase in female readership of comics since 2012. Comics and graphic novels were once assumed to be male-dominated, but as Marvel and DC feature more female characters, more young women are paying attention to the genre.
Perhaps less surprising than the gender neutrality of graphic novels and comics is the age group of readers, which has remained relatively consistent over the past ten years. According to Graphic Policy’s data, roughly 40% of graphic novel and comics readers are between the ages of 18 and 25, 5% are under the age of 17, and 16% are between the ages of 26 and 33. More graphic novel and comics readers over the age of 45 are women, while more readers under the age of 45 are men, although neither sex dominates by a large majority at any age.
So how do these numbers compare to library patrons hitting the stacks? According to a 2014 survey in the Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Journal, 98% of public libraries reported having graphic novels and comics in their collections. Libraries were also asked to report why they had started collecting comics. The majority of respondents (67%) reported patron demand as the key acquisition factor, and another 9% reported adding comics as a way to increase patronage. The age breakdown was reportedly lower than the general readership numbers compiled by Graphic Policy, with patrons between the ages of 12 and 15 making up 23% of graphic novel circulation, followed by patrons between 10 and 12 (16%) and 15 to 18 (15%). Graphic Policy’s slightly older readership could be due to the fact that most Facebook users are 18 and older, but nonetheless, graphic novel and comics readers are a young population.
Adding comics to the public library’s collection, marketing these acquisitions, and disbursing the collection throughout the library can be a great way to increase young patronage and circulation overall. Having said that, many librarians have difficulty finding shelf space for comics series that span many issues. Adding the Comics Plus Library Edition collection to the Boopsie mobile app makes it easy to market comics and graphic novels to patrons without the burden of shelf space. An icon on your library-branded Boopsie mobile app and links on your library website deliver users directly to the Comics Plus Library Edition.
Graphic novels and comics are more popular than ever before with a young, diverse readership. Incorporating these materials into your library’s catalog is easy with Comics Plus Library Edition, and it’s a great way to meet patron demand while increasing circulation among the young generation of public library users. Learn more about how your library can increase circulation of digital comics and graphic novels by contacting the Boopsie account team.