Why We Need a Bookscan for Ebooks

#1 with a bullet, but by how much?

While it’s heartening to hear Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, his followup to The DaVinci Code, sold one million copies in its first day in publication (across US, UK, and Canada) – rising tide carries all boats and all that – I can’t help but wonder if publishing is screwing itself out of a major opportunity. Amazon and B&N have reported record ebook sales for the title, but nobody, including Random House, is releasing any numbers.

This is particularly frustrating after all the discussions lately about day-and-date for ebook and print. Twelve’s holding off simultaneous release for their recent Ted Kennedy memoir True Compass, unlike Random House for Brown’s book. How can the industry learn from these experiments if everyone’s playing it so close to the chest?

Those outside the industry may say it’s just normal business. And you would have a point, if it weren’t for the transparency commonplace to print titles via Nielsen Bookscan. I can look up right now approximately how many print titles any number of blockbuster titles have sold. But we have no such data for the booming ebook market. And if publishers are expected to make day-and-date, pricing, and format decisions as this sector grows, don’t you think sales data is something to take into account?

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6 responses to “Why We Need a Bookscan for Ebooks

  1. So

    I blog quite often and I really appreciate your information. This article has truly peaked my interest.

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  2. Pingback: Nielsen BookScan To Track Ebook Sales by the End of 2010? | Moses and Dionysus Walk Into a Bar ...

  3. eBooks are still in their infancy, but I agree with James’ thoughts that we need to know who is buying the books — not just how many buy them. With Kindle gaining a following and respect, I’m sure we’ll see big changes in the near future.

  4. chapmanchapman

    You’re reading my mind, James – I’m working with a couple of your colleagues on a BISG study!

  5. While sales numbers count, what’s even more important is who is making the purchase in the first place. Point of Sale data can tell you everything about the book, consumer information can tell you who is buying print, audio or ebooks, or even which device whether Kindle or Iphone or Sony ereader, where the book or ebook was sold (does bookscan collect from Wal-Mart or Book Clubs or Book fairs or even expresso machine) , how the consumer became aware of the book in the first place and finally everything about that consumer in terms of profiling and activities they engage in.

    Even with or without sales information, without a Consumer strategy it must be an even harder task.

    • yes the digital study, its a ground breaking view of this emerging market. Watch out for similar studies on Graphic Novels, Young Adult, Romance, Bibles, and anything else you want Actionable insights on.

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