Neil Farris, owner of Hijinx Comics, works at his shop in San Jose, Calif., Monday, June 5, 2017. Hijinx is the oldest comic book store in San Jose. (Heriberto Cortes/Mosaic)
Neil Farris, owner of Hijinx Comics, works at his shop in San Jose, Calif., Monday, June 5, 2017. Hijinx is the oldest comic book store in San Jose. (Heriberto Cortes/Mosaic)

Geek culture is booming, with movies like “Avengers: Age of Ultron” making $1 billion at the box office in a matter of weeks. But with superheroes being the rage these days, are comic book shops sharing in the success?
There are 10 comic shops in Santa Clara County, with just three of them — Hijinx Comics, SpaceCat Comics and Art Boutiki — in San Jose. That’s a big drop from a generation ago, according to one shop owner.

“In 1994 there were 94 comic shops in San Jose alone,” said Bruce Tritch, owner of SpaceCat Comics on West San Carlos Street.

For at least the past decade, comic books have also been available in digital format, so you might think that explains where readers have gone. But of the $1.03 billion the industry made in 2015 according to retail tracker Comichron, only $90 million was sold digitally. A Washington Post study in 2014 showed only 9 percent of millennials liked reading books in that format.

And buying digital copies of comic books isn’t cheaper, either. The digital version of a comic book costs the same amount as a physical copy.

But a good part of comic book sales may be going to collections called trade paperbacks, which are popular on retail sites like Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

“It’s so much easier, I just don’t like to go into the store and see if…