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BISG Unveils Powerful New Bookstats Features

Published in Book Business magazine.

“Awesome,” should be the headline to describe the features and analytical power of the new AAP/BISG sponsored Bookstats report on industry sales and trends, for which the analytical work is managed by Bowker.

It is especially so when one looks back on the decades during which BISG struggled with data gathering and data analysis tools that were short of the task—resting on a lot of intuitive extrapolation; and the AAP contented itself with industry reporting that used actual returns from participating publishers and no extrapolations; and neither included most of the emerging vast universe of independent publishers. And publishers had two sets of figures to work with.

Now the BISG’s accessible “data cube” dashboard analytics can enable you to focus and drill down between and among 10 categories: five adult and juvenile trade levels, K-12, higher education, professional and “all others”; six physical formats (hard, soft, mass market, textbooks, audio, other), and five digital formats (eBooks, audio downloads, course materials, internet products and services, “other non-physical”), and bundled products and “all other formats”; and seven retail channels (chains, indies, mass, specialty, college, online retail, unclassified), plus direct to consumer, institutional, clubs and fairs, export, jobbers and wholesalers and “all others.”

You can learn not only that publisher sales in all formats and through all channels between 2010 and 2011 dropped 2.5% from $27.9 billion to $27.2 billion, while unit sales rose 3.4% from 2.68 to 2.77 billion – but if you purchase the “deep dive” option you can find the increases or decreases by second level of bisac codes.

You can see how your own direct-to-consumer sales stack up to the 58% increase to $1.11 billion for all categories. Data can be downloaded in spreadsheet and other formats.

You can compare your own company’s performance within the overall industry as well as within four major tiers, > $100 million, 50 to 100 million, 500,000 to 5 million, and under 500,000. If you are in Trade you can see how your ebook sales fell within the 15% for the total category, or the 30% of sales for adult trade.

Critical to the integrity and utility of these numbers is the reconciliation of the different ways in which publishers define their metadata labels (What is a direct to consumer sale? What is a course materials sale?) and the correlation to totals for the industry of the actual numbers of publishers participating in the survey both to their size as well as numbers.

The Bowker ISBN data base used in the methodology remains the most reliable index to publishers and publishing activity by title. Of the some 35.000 active publishers since 2008 in their Books in Print data base, 1,977 took part in the survey this year and 1,963 in 2010 (Incidentally, if you take part when their window opens in January, you get free copies of the main results).

In order to arrive at extrapolations from the survey responses to the total industry, they broke the 35,000 down by isbn count to four size groups: Very Large (greater than 10,000) – 49; Large (1000-10,000) – 364; Medium (100-1000), 1,500 and Small (under 100) – 33,886.

As reported by participants in each of 13 peer groups used (e.g. adult fiction trade, technical and scientific, very small, etc), an average of sales revenue dollars per peer group and size group isbn was calculated. This was done by, for example, dividing the sales in the case of law books by medium sized law book publishers who responded by their number of titles for sale. In this case, the average turned out to be $20,000. This was multiplied by the total isbn count for medium sized law publishers in the data base to arrive at total projected sales. These calculations for all categories and size groups were combined to arrive at projected total industry sales.

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