Oh blimey • 30 October 2006 • The SnowBlog

Oh blimey


So this is what happens when you decide you're not going to turn on your computer all weekend. You only get selected as Site of the Week by the Guardian! Quick, write something sensible so people will think we're clever. Er... (grinding noise, splutter)...no. Not only did I decide to have a Weekend Off The Computer (except second life which I can't live without, and buying a new pair of boots on M&S, and looking something up on wikipedia, but nothing work related which has got to count for summat, right?) I have also given up coffee which means I'm a little slower getting going in the morning (even though it's really 9.30, not 8.30, because of the clocks.) So no witticisms or sparks of brilliance for you, young reader-m'lad. 

Anyway. Since they say we're a 'literary blog' I should mention something to do with books. Our Christmas range went into stores last week, and what do you know? We have absolutely NO idea how it's selling. This is thus a very good time to talk about something I've been meaning to post about for ages, which is access to epos. Sounds like a part-time course - but no. 

Nielsen BookScan (-m?) are the company that holds the monopoly of retail sales monitoring in this industry (a monopoly only because no other company bothers). They collect information from around 8000 retailers (which is not comprehensive, but whatever - sampling is a given), validate it and aggregate the data into reports which they sell back to publishers, so they can see how their sales are doing, and retailers, so they can calculate their market share. 

So far, so good. However, we have never been able to avail ourselves of this service. Why? Because "any 5 nominated ISBN's [sic] (titles) [sic] tracked over 4 consecutive weeks costs £525." Subsequent months are £75.  It's £270 per title per year on this ratecard! £10000 a year for 35 titles! So we can either have a profitable title and not know about it or spend our profit on finding that out. Now I'm sure they'd do a deal if you subscribed, or bought more data than just a month's worth, but we're still talking thousands. 

Why so expensive? Are their epos collecting processes so awfully inefficient that it genuinely costs this much? Are they using people to sort the data rather than computers? Or are they charging this much because firms really do need this data, and they're the sole gatekeepers.

Economics 101, innit? Better get us some competition. Anyone? Anyone?  


The SnowBlog is one of the oldest publishing blogs, started in 2003, and it's been through various content management systems over the years. A 2005 techno-blunder meant we lost the early years, but the archives you're reading now go all the way back to 2005.

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