Obsessed! Amazon Adds BookScan Data

The brains behind Amazon Author Central have been doing a lot of thinking lately. Not only have they added sparkly new features like U.S. Nielsen BookScan data (“Wow – someone in Chattanooga, Tennessee bought my book!”) but they’ve also added a sales rank tracking feature that pretty much obliterates the need for you check NovelRank every five minutes. Now you can just obsessively visit your Amazon Author page instead…

As this notice from Amazon Author Central breathlessly explains:

“We’re happy to announce that – for the first time ever – authors can see weekly sales trends of their print books as reported by Nielsen BookScan. On the new Sales Info tab you can view your print book sales geographically, as well as by paperback or hardcover.  These features are on the same page as the existing Amazon Bestsellers Rank History so that you can view all your sales-related activity in one place. Note that BookScan doesn’t report every book sold. Though it’s still widely regarded as the industry standard for tracking print book sales. And now, through Author Central, you have access to this data for free. Check out Sales by Geography and Sales by Week now!”

Here’s what it looks like. In the last 4 weeks, Mousetrapped has sold 23 paperback copies from Amazon.com and now I can see exactly from where those copies were bought. Confusingly, the biggest buyer appears to be the state of New York. What’s that all about? And how come the next three biggest sales areas – Columbus, Ohio, Los Angeles, California and San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose – each account for 2 sales each? Were both copies bought by the same person? Or did one person buy one and then tell a friend about it, who also went and bought one? Can’t you see how this could quickly come become an obsession?

It’s sales rank tracker doesn’t look exactly like Novel Rank’s – although it should, because Novel Rank’s works just fine – but you can still get the basic data from the chart. This is Mousetrapped‘s Kindle edition’s sales rank since July 1st.

What perplexes me about this is the line ‘… out of over 400,000 books in the Kindle store.” 400,000? Which 400,000 are they talking about, seeing as the US Kindle store claims on every Kindle listing to stock 750,000 books? Perhaps it’s the paid Kindle store, or the other 350,000 books haven’t sold a copy yet and thus don’t have a sales rank. I couldn’t find anything in the FAQ section that answered my question.

All in all I’m finding this mildly interesting, but as a self-published author who sells online, I can see exactly how many copies I’ve sold at any given time, and because my books are not in stores, these numbers will always match the BookScan data – they’re one and the same. None of this is news to me really, except for maybe the geographical data, but what use is that? I haven’t thought of one yet.

However I gather this is new information for “properly” published authors (that’s my term and I’m sticking to it, before the arrows start coming my way) who, if they wanted this information before now, had to pay for it as far as I know. So it’s A Good Thing.

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