Navigating with Good ‘Intel’: Publishing, e-Books, and Beyond
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Posted by: Sheri Toomb
by David Campbell, Senior Account
Manager of Publishing Services, Bowker
Wouldn’t it be easier if Staples really did sell the "Easy
Button”? It is a tired analogy but
as we struggle to make the best decisions from the information and knowledge we
obtain, there are those moments when we just want to smack the red button to
hear those blissful words "that was easy.” The speed of change for the past few
years in publishing has seemed to outpace the amount of information available
and the ability or time we have to process information into successful
decisions. Hitting the target now
seems like playing darts while spinning in your office chair.
Fortunately, Christian publishers have had help navigating
the often tumultuous and murky waters of decision making. ECPA started the first business
intelligence program specifically for Christian publishing in 2003—STATS, an
on-line service for tracking weekly book sales in Christian retail stores. It continues today as PubTrack
Christian, a partnership with Bowker’s PubTrack business intelligence
services. As the book market has
expanded and changed, new data sources and services have been developed to
continually provide the best guidance possible.
Obviously, much of the recent change being faced is related
to the eBook. Although we realize
that printed books do not have the same fate of the beloved eight-track,
charting the course through the digital revolution in publishing is taking a
considerable amount of time, effort, and worry. The most recent service provided by PubTrack is designed to
give the insight needed on e-Books through a new sales data sharing service for
publishers. PubTrack Digital provides
monthly eBook sales data compiled directly from publishers that participate and
share their own sales data.
Although the data lags the marketplace by about a month, it provides an
ISBN-level database of actual eBook sales from participating publishers.
Although it’s not the "Easy Button”, now more than ever, there’s
more information and research available to the Christian publisher, including:
- PubTrack Christian Retail Sales Data – Weekly ISBN-level
sales information from a sample of Christian retailers. Access is available online and via
standard and custom reports. The
most powerful online toolset with Christian retail data available.
- PubTrack Christian Publisher Data Sharing – Weekly
net "sell-in” and returns information is shared by publishers at a group channel
level by ISBN. Access is limited
to the publishers that participate and share their own data. Participating publishers have the best
view of performance across categories and all channels available today.
- PubTrack Consumer – A consumer research panel
providing key statistics directly from the book consumers, such as demographics
and book purchase preferences, while providing insight into book buying
behaviors, habits, and book shopping occasions. Data collected monthly from 6,000 book consumers (with special segmentation for Christian book
buyers) delivers the essential facts you need to know about reading
behavior, book sales in terms of units vs. dollars, and differences between
book formats (including e-books and e-reading devices) and genres. Access is available online and through
standard and custom reporting. The
only ongoing consumer research about the book consumer.
All of these solutions are designed to help publishers sell
more books by providing accurate and timely information on an easy to use
platform. But it doesn’t stop
there. It is easy to simply collect
information (most companies have databases and hard drives full of it). We can even make it knowledge and
impress others with what we retain and regurgitate. However, integrating it into our workflow to create positive
change is difficult. This is why
we collaborate with publishers rather than just providing the data. We also encourage and teach publishers
to collaborate with each other and with their trading partners. Collaboration in business is now a
requirement. We must learn to find
common goals and ways to share our knowledge. Some of the collaboration will require wise changes in
practices and policies that may push beyond our current comfort zones. However, with good, comprehensive
information and a means to share and discuss it with others, we are able to
create strong strategies that produce better bottom lines.
How can we help you reach your goals in 2012? We really want to know. Look for future articles
spotlighting several of these services along with providing some of the data
points you can learn from them to help grow your business in 2012 and beyond. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Campbell serves as Senior Account Manager of Publishing Services at Bowker. In
this role he consults with US publishers on implementation and use of a host of
Bowker business intelligence and supply chain products including PubTrack,
PubEasy, and Pubnet. Prior to joining Bowker, David worked in the corporate
merchandising offices of LifeWay Christian Stores. In that role he worked with
ECPA and CBA on development and implementation of industry initiatives
including research, technology, and supply chain management. David lives
in Nashville, TN.