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LawrenceElliott
04-06-2007, 05:11 AM
I didn't know where to pose this question, so please forgive me if this is not the proper place. Please feel free to direct me to the correct location.

Where would one find sales statistics for a particular books (or books)? I'm looking for an online database source that is updated regularly to see how certain books are selling or have sold.

Thank you for your assistance and indulgence.

Lawrence

benbradley
04-06-2007, 05:37 AM
I think you'd be hard-pressed to find good statistics on this, online or otherwise (there may be inside industry stuff I've never heard of), but I can suggest a few things if you want to do some work to get some guestimates. There's Publisher's Weekly, that IIRC prints a short blurb/review on just about every new book published and gives the number of copies printed for the first printing. If the book goes into later printings, you know it has sold more than that many copies, and if it goes out of print in the first printing (as I understand that most books do), it has sold less than that many copies. This is very inexact, but I think reliable for what little info it gives you.

Amazon.com lists every book it sells by sales rank, #1 is their best-selling book, a rank of 10,000 might mean they sell (just a guess) fifty copies a week, and a rank of 1,000,000 might mean they sell one copy a year. I understand this includes sales of used copies as well as new. I do recall seeing a graph of Amazon sales rank vs. number of sales, this was from a "third party" and may not be reliable. The Amazon sales figure would then have to be extrapolated to the rest of the industry (by taking into account the percentage of book sales that Amazon represents), and by the time you calculate all that, there are surely large margins for error, though it would probably give you a "gross," usable estimate, depending on what you want the figure for.

You might get better answers in a used-and-collectible book forum, though what I write above is taken from having been in such forums.

Unimportant
04-06-2007, 11:15 AM
I think the Nielsen Bookscan is the most comprehensive. However, I believe an annual subscription costs somewhere in the five figures.

Marlys
04-06-2007, 07:22 PM
Amazon.com lists every book it sells by sales rank, #1 is their best-selling book, a rank of 10,000 might mean they sell (just a guess) fifty copies a week, and a rank of 1,000,000 might mean they sell one copy a year. I understand this includes sales of used copies as well as new. I do recall seeing a graph of Amazon sales rank vs. number of sales, this was from a "third party" and may not be reliable. The Amazon sales figure would then have to be extrapolated to the rest of the industry (by taking into account the percentage of book sales that Amazon represents), and by the time you calculate all that, there are surely large margins for error, though it would probably give you a "gross," usable estimate, depending on what you want the figure for.
Amazon numbers are all over the place. A national bestseller might sell only about 4% of its copies on Amazon, while a niche book could make half or more of its sales on the site, so trying to extrapolate from average sales probably won't work that well.

Fifty copies a week would place a book quite a bit higher than 10,000--selling 2 or 3 copies a day will get you into that range. BUT that depends on time of year and total sales overall--in the Christmas season, when Amazon sells most of their books, a title that ranks 20,000 will be selling more copies than a title that ranks 10,000 in March. If you don't sell a copy for a day or two, the book plummets pretty rapidly down to the 100,000 range.

So, not terribly useful.

Slightly better is checking Ingram's sales figures on their automated line at 1-615-287-6803. Ingram is a large distributor, but there are other biggies out there, and they don't all distribute the same books equally. I've heard from authors who say that only a small percentage of their sales are through Ingram.

Still, it's probably more accurate than Amazon if you're checking titles against each other, since you'll get an actual number sold instead of a relative ranking that changes every hour.

jchines
04-07-2007, 12:19 AM
My agent has a Bookscan account, which is probably your best bet if you know someone with access. They track anywhere from 50% to 85% of sales, depending on who you ask. Failing that, I'd probably try calling Ingram, like Marlys suggests.