With e-books now making up about 20 percent of sales for many big publishers, it’s essential for bestseller lists to include them in order to give an accurate picture of what is selling. The Wall Street Journal will start running e-book bestseller lists starting this weekend, following a move by the New York Times earlier this year and USA Today in 2009. But there is something unique about the WSJ‘s e-book lists: They are powered by Nielsen BookScan, which has not publicly tracked e-book sales until now.
Nielsen BookScan tracks print book sales, and is believed to cover about 75 percent of hardcover and paperback sales. The company had said earlier this year that it would begin tracking e-book sales at some point. “As consumers and booksellers continue to embrace the potential of e-books, we are very happy to be working with The Wall Street Journal to produce the most accurate best-seller charts available,” Jonathan Stolper, BookScan VP and general manager, said in a statement. “These new charts uniquely reflect what people are really buying and reading and will most definitely advance the industry’s understanding of e-book best sellers.”
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The WSJ is running four lists, the AP says: “Combined e-book and physical sales for fiction and nonfiction, and e-sales only for fiction and nonfiction. Eligible releases will include self-published books, children’s books and ‘perennials,’ older works that continue to sell strongly.”
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It is unclear exactly how Nielsen will be tracking e-book sales, but it may do it the same way it tracks print-book sales: By collecting point-of-sale data from retailers like Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Until now, it’s only tracked retailers that sell print books, but for e-books it will also track data from Apple and Google, in addition to Kindle and Nook.
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