Free Comic Book Day 2013: Estimates As Facts

Free Comic Book Day 2013 was, by all accounts, a great success. I ran a free barbeque for my local comic shop and it was busy, very busy. Diamond recently published an article on their retailer site about the numbers.


This year’s event was covered by over 240 TV news stations, over 460 news outlets, and over 740 online sites from a variety of media outlets including USA Today, CNN, FOX News, MTV Geekio9.comNPR,Wired, and AP news.

Word of this year’s event also spread through social media like TwitterFacebookYouTubeFlickr, and others. Over 63,000 “tweets” alone have made reference to Free Comic Book Day on Twitter, and the event trended nationally on May 4th from 9:00 AM till 4:00 PM in the #1 (#FCBD) and #2 (#FreeComicBookDay) spots.

Free Comic Book Day’s Facebook Page doubled in size this year, now reaching 66,000 fans. Many Facebook posts spread virally through the social network and were seen over 100,000 times each. This helped Free Comic Book Day reach a record-breaking 620,000 unique visitors to its web site in the months of April and May.

Lots of actual data provided in the above, easily verified. Their article goes on to name the media outlets. Here’s CNN’s coverage.



Now we get into the dubious.

All of the publicity generated helped send an estimated 1.2 million people to comic book stores all across the world.

Free Comic Book Day once again was a media darling, with Diamond, publishers, and local retailers all doing their part to drive coverage from a local and national level. The result: over $2.2 million in free publicity value for the event, the comic industry, and comic shops!

Hello, what? How do they estimate 1.2 million people went to comic book stores around the world? And what formula is used to come up with $2.2 million in free publicity “value”. I just love the use of the word value there.

It’s worth repeating that Free Comic Book Day comics are not free for publishers or comic shops: publishers are losing money completely on the deal and comic shops are paying an average of $0.26 per issue.

At first I didn’t notice these dubious numbers but it has since been reported on ICv2 and Robot 6, leading with “FCBD 2013 draws record 1.2 million fans” and “1.2 Million Fans Scarf Up 4.6 Million Free Comics”. Notice both outlets dropped the “estimated” for their headlines.

The only possible way to get this information would be to get the actual attendance numbers from each and every comic shop that participated, which isn’t practical. Since we know Diamond sold 4.6 million “free” comics for FCBD and they’re estimating 1.2 million people that works out to 3.83 free comics per person. Interestingly my local comic shop limits the free comics to four per person. Is that where Diamond is getting this number from?


Scott VanderPloeg
Scott VanderPloeg

Scott works in I.T. but lives to eat and read. His other ramblings can be found at AE Index and eBabble. Art collection at Comic Art Fans.

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Bob Roys
Bob Roys
11 years ago

I traveled 22 miles each way to my “local” comic shop, only to be told each person was allowed 2 free comics. From the comfort of my home I went online and got 21 free comics from a large comics dealer for $8.00 shipping. Next year I will probably just order them online, and I don’t foresee myself trekking out to my local shop anytime soon. Lesson learned.