Services for Booksellers & Wholesalers

  1. What does BookScan actually do?

  • BookScan provides a continuous market measurement of UK (also Republic of Ireland) retail book sales based upon electronic sales data analysis. This means information is collected from bookshops and internet retailers on what books are sold, in what quantity and at what price. The data is validated and analysed to produce bestseller lists, price and imprint comparisons, backlist analyses and other essential information such as distribution and stock levels for booksellers and publishers.
  • The information comes directly from bookshop EPoS systems; therefore the data is highly accurate.
  • Every title being sold is tracked, not just the fast sellers or ‘Top 50s’.
  • Top 5,000 (or Top 1,000 if based in Ireland) title charts for the previous week (Sun to Sat) are produced each Tuesday afternoon.
  • Statistics are by volume, by value and actual selling prices, so the effect of pricing and discounting on sales can be measured.
  • Titles can be consolidated to imprint and publisher levels, as well as to genre, giving an accurate picture of market shares, both within sector and trended over time.

2. How does Nielsen BookScan work?

  • Participating shops send an electronic copy of their day end sales files direct to BookScan from their EPoS system.
  • The process can be incorporated into the regular end of day procedures. It doesn’t affect the bookshop’s operations and there is no cost to the bookseller.
  • Only 5 pieces of information are picked up: ISBN, quantity sold, actual selling price, date of sale and if applicable, shop identifier.
  • Data is matched to Nielsen Book’s bibliographic database and checked for validity and quality, initially by computer comparisons and then by our experienced staff, before being processed.
  • Our product measurement covers books and books on tape/CD (spoken word), takes into account customer returns and screens out non-book information.
  • All data is held in strictest confidence.

3. Who contributes?

  • In a typical week BookScan collects over £26 million worth of book sales from our Total Consumer Market (TCM).
  • Any shop can contribute, provided it has a suitable EPoS or stock control system where books are scanned at the till and data can be delivered electronically on a daily or weekly basis.
  • The major chains that are contributing provide data from 100% of their shops.
  • Weighting, when applied, is generally only to provide a more accurate independent picture (since not all independents are capable of sending electronically) and with an average weighting of 1.1 we are able to provide a very accurate picture of what is happening in the part of the market that is most difficult to access - the retail sector.
  • While the ideal would be to have every bookshop, statisticians are used to evaluating, weighting and analysing data from samples. Public opinion polls often make assertions on data gathered from less than 0.01% of the population.

4. What is the Total Consumer Market (TCM)?

  • The Total Consumer Market (TCM) includes all major high street chains, independents, supermarkets, plus internet, academic, travel and other specialist sites.
  • It was launched in December 2000 and has had expansions each December since.
  • The TCM now covers over 90% of all retail book purchases in UK.

5. How accurate is the data?

  • BookScan has the best and most comprehensive data in the industry. It represents 6,500 outlets. Our ability to monitor the seasonal sales patterns in our panel is very accurate. For example, our data is sensitive enough to pick up the influence of Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day or literary prize nominations/award winners.
  • Within our panel, we know how many copies of each title were purchased, the average/actual price and therefore, the market share of the publishers whose books were sold during a specified time period.
  • As a retailer your exact market share of any given title or genre can be calculated – but only by you.
  • We know the top selling titles at any time, and by how much each is outselling the others. Equally, we know which imprints are dominant in each sector and by how much. In many cases booksellers and publishers have a ‘gut feel’ about the state of the market. Nielsen BookScan quantifies this.

6. Who really needs that much detail?

  • BookScan data is delivered in an easy to understand web based format allowing one to filter as much or as little detail as one needs. 
  • Effective decisions can be made by retailers to maintain the most appropriate stock range in store and reduce costs of returns and irrelevant orders.
  • Effective decisions can now be made by publishers on reprints or distribution with early and accurate information on exactly how many copies have actually been sold to customers (not order line information) and whether those sales were at full price or discounted.

7. Who pays for it?

  • Participating retailers pay no fees. As panel members you are entitled to receive standard, comprehensive & repeat data free in return for giving BookScan access to your individual sales data. Panel members can also purchase additional services. Non-participating retailers can not purchase data.
  • Participating retailers receive their regular weekly charts via special analysis software, downloadable from the Internet.
  • Our income is derived mainly from publishers, media subscriptions and a growing number of retailers who recognise the scope and value of the information and choose to pay for some additional data to their own specifications to help grow their business.

8. Why should a bookshop join the BookScan Panel?
In return for allowing access to your sales data you receive valuable information which will help you to:

  • Spot potential bestsellers early & cross-check the top selling titles in your shop against bestseller lists
  • Measure your performance against the market
  • Provide a common language for conversations with publishers and wholesalers
  • Spot discounting trends
  • Verify top selling titles by category
  • Help with Core Stock ranges
  • Reduce returns and administration costs.

For further information, email:

Complementing your own experience and knowledge, the accurate information BookScan can supply enables both the bookseller and the publisher to make the best possible decisions.


Other Bookseller Services available within the group:

For BookData services click here.

For BookNet services click here.