Industry Statistics: Looking Behind the Numbers
1. Real-time or near-time sales reports by title: BookScan’s daily bookstore title sales reports. Amazon’s hourly online best-sellers ranking. Ingram, and Baker and Taylor best-seller lists. While these reflect trade-market behavior as well as short-term fads, together they can provide a compass of where the market is for many categories, and provide guidelines for publishing and marketing decisions.
2. Sector and category reports: For example, trade, juvenile, religion, computer, e-books, audio, etc. Trade and professional groups such as AAP’s monthly reports, BISG’s annual “Trends,” AAUP, Audio Publishers Association (APA), as well as other reporting media such as Book Business’ “Market Focus” section and Simba. These can provide a more strategic outlook on market direction. Short-term best-sellers (“Goosebumps,” “Harry Potter,” “Da Vinci Code”) in the trade market, birth rates and adoption cycles in the school market, and technology or financial breakthroughs in the professional and business markets can distort categories in given years, so an informed eye is needed.
3. Business performance and outlook reports: Probably the most jealously guarded and hardest to come by is business performance by company and group. Publishing and media information companies such as Simba and Open Book Publishing are primary sources. Aside from applications to publishing and marketing strategies, they also guide long-range investment decisions, and merger and acquisition activity. There are, of course, scores of market research firms that publishers can commission to search their continuing databases or do targeted research for business planning. Also, the required annual filings of public companies are available to anyone who wants them.
4. Industry trends and performance: The primary industrywide sales reports are provided by BISG and AAP. R.R. Bowker, as the official ISBN registration agency, also reports annually on book-title output. Category reports are published by the AAUP and APA. Other trade groups such as the Association for Christian Retail (CBA) and International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) provide niche reporting.
- American Booksellers Association
- Association of American Publishers
- Book Publishing Report
- Evangelical Christian Publishers Association
- Fordham University
- Independent Publishers Group
- National Association of College Stores
- National Book Network (NBN)
- Nielsen Media Research
- Publishers Weekly
- Simba Information
- The Book Industry Study Group
Eugene G. Schwartz is editor at large for ForeWord Reviews, an industry observer and an occasional columnist for Book Business magazine. In an earlier career, he was in the printing business and held production management positions at Random House, Prentice-Hall/Goodyear and CRM Books/Psychology Today. A former PMA (IBPA) board member, he has headed his own publishing consultancy, Consortium House. He is also Co-Founder of Worthy Shorts Inc., a development stage online private press and publication service for professionals as well as an online back office publication service for publishers and associations. He is on the Publishing Business Conference and Expo Advisory Board.