The Bookseller last week published their first eBook monthly e-book rankings, with data supplied by all the main trade publishers. The initiative builds on what they’ve done with The Bookseller‘s annual and quarterly market analyses, where publisher supplied e-book data has been integrated with stats from the physical book market supplied by Nielsen BookScan.
As The Bookseller say, the e-book market has grown to almost 30% of some trade publishers’ business but there is no third party monitor of it, or its changes and trends. In the US, where the e-book market is bigger, the data sources are no better. BookScan, which began as BookTrack, was founded by Whitaker, which at the time also owned The Bookseller. As The Bookseller say “It [BookTrack] was a great innovation, and continues to be so, operating now in 10 countries, having most recently announced a new panel in Brazil.” The system has existed for less than 20 years, but is relied upon by the trade and the media to provide information on which books are being bought and sold in high street bookshops, supermarkets and the internet. BookTrack’s solution took sales data directly from the tills in participating booksellers to give accurate reports of sales.
The Bookseller explain, “The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal both run e-book charts (the latter supplied by Nielsen BookScan, and based on sales from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Google, Sony and more with Kobo joining the panel shortly), but without sales figures. Digital Book World’s weekly e-book bestseller charts are based on sales rankings at e-book retail sites, weighted for market share and several other variables (similar to the e-book charts first run on FutureBook). The Associaton of American Publishers also produces monthly data about US publishers’ sales known as Stat Shot, which is then rolled up into an annual BookStats report, done with the Book Industry Study Group.”
They continue “As with the BookScan charts we’ll focus on volume, but will eliminate titles that are so heavily discounted that their sales figures become meaningless. The Bookseller‘s BookScan charts exclude titles that have an actual selling price that represents a 75% discount or more on the rrp. There is no clear way of making this calculation for e-book sales, so in the e-book ranking we’ll exclude titles that sell below £2. This is consistent not only with our own existing charts, but also with what other e-book charts there are out there, including the Wall Street Journal’s, which excludes free e-books and e-books sold under 99 cents.”
Running a test chart to ensure that all the information could be amalgamated, The Bookseller took data from Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, Pan Macmillan Bloomsbury, and Simon & Schuster, but expect that this panel of contributors will expand quickly: they have also added Canongate, Faber, Hesperus, and Short Books, for the June chart. The first six publishers represent 51% of the printed book market and 81% of the print fiction sector.
However, there are some very successful self published books selling extremely well in digital formats – The Bookseller state, “We’ll look to include all publishers we can do, including over-time self-publishers and e-book only companies, though we’ll need to be careful each time to make sure their data is as robust as that of the big publishers.”
They have started talks with the Alliance of Independent Authors on whether and how they can begin to collate indie author e-book sales. With self publishing a vital part of the digital scene, this aspect of sales will be vital for both writers and readers (and publishers looking for the Next Big Thing!).
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