Wiley Sales Conference: August 2005
Wanted: Acquisitions Editor for Open Source Topics

Bookscan – Week Ending 8/7/05

Bookscan is a very valuable service and reporting tool used by publishers and retailers alike. It provides point-of-sale information from approximately 4,500 retailers across the U.S. As you may have seen in previous blog posts by O'Reilly, the data is very useful.

I thought it would be interesting to provide a weekly snapshot of the top 25 computer books according to Bookscan data. Here’s a breakdown of the top publishers and topic areas from last week’s report (all percentages are based on sell-through units):

Leading Publishers                       Leading Topics

#1 Wiley 30%                                #1 Microsoft Office 25%

#2 Pearson 22%                            #2 Windows XP 17%

#3 Microsoft Press 19%                 #3 Photoshop/Photography 16%

#4 O’Reilly 16%                             #4 Mac  13%

#5 Penguin 6%                              #5 Web Development 7%

By the way, although they show up separately in Bookscan, Penguin is owned by Pearson, which means the Pearson total goes up to 28% in this list.

As you’ll see over time, share splits and topic importance tend to fluctuate due to seasonality, new product releases and perhaps most importantly, promotional efforts by publishers and retailers. Also, although you can’t extrapolate data for the top 25 titles for the entire market, they are a good indicator of what’s hot and who’s doing well.


Michael Still

Out of interest, what are the numbers associated with these sorts of percentages? Are many books actually sold in the computer book industry?

Joe Wikert

Hi Michael. Great question. I'll try to shed more light on the data in future posts, but, to answer your question, the numbers can vary greatly from week to week. I'd say the top 25 titles are typically in the range of 10-15K units total each week, but there are times when even that range is exceeded. It's also important to keep in mind that Bookscan doesn't cover 100% of the sales picture -- some smaller accounts, specialty accounts and international aren't captured with this data. But, it gives a pretty good idea of how topics, titles and publishers are performing relative to one another, for example.

Juliana Aldous Atkinson

I'd like to point out that if you look at the Top 50 titles YTD, Microsoft Press is #2 in units (of course Wiley is #1). Not bad considering we don't publish on Mac or Photoshop topics.

Joe Wikert

Hi Juliana. You bring up an excellent point. There are a zillion ways to cut and make measurements with this data. I'm hoping that by posting results on a regular basis here everyone will have a chance to see the trends for themselves.

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