Thursday, December 9, 2010
by John Jackson Miller
BookScan, the A.C. Nielsen service that tracks book sales using point-of-purchase information in thousands of bookstores — plus online sales from Amazon — has now made its sales data available through Amazon. If you're the book's author, that is. As the Los Angeles Times also reports, Amazon has added a Sales Data tab to the dashboards of Amazon Author Central accounts, providing geographical breakdowns of sales.
|Sample of Amazon's geographical breakdown for a title|
In the drilldowns, there are per-title sales by week, with four-week tracks that can be viewed by title or format, such as paperback and hardcover. Amazon Ranking History is also included, showing a book's ranking at Amazon over time. (To see how far back the tracking went, I checked on one of my older books; the three major graphics provided appear here, minus identifying detail.)
|Sample of Amazon's Bookscan four-week copy counts for a title|
BookScan combines sales reported by participating retailers, including Borders and Walden, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, Target, and Buy.Com. Some retailers do not participate, including Wal-Mart and Sam's Club. As such, it amounts to what Nielsen says is 75% of book sales in the United States. Diamond's sales through comics shops are not included.
|Sample of Amazon's Rank History track for a title|
The four-week track means it's more of a system designed to provide creators snapshots, as opposed to their own accounting system; you'd have to record the numbers every week. As yet, it's only a graphical interface; you can't pull down a table or Excel chart. Presumably that is a possibility for the future.
Still, this is a major innovation and one that will be very useful to many creators. Amazon gives an creator or author credit in its system not just to writers of graphic novels, but also to artists, so presumably, those creators would be eligible to apply for Amazon Author Central accounts as well.