Where Can I Find Sales Figures for Novels?
October 26, 2006 6:45 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find sales figures for novels (new and/or classic)? I am aware of Bookscan and Publisher's Lunch, but those are very expensive.
posted by Gnostic Novelist to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Lunch doesn't offer sales figures. Bookscan's really your only bet, and even that isn't comprehensive. Only publishers know the true sales figures of their own books.
posted by lampoil at 8:03 AM on October 26, 2006

What about for the classics (Pre-Bookscan)?
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 8:06 AM on October 26, 2006

http://www.thebookstandard.com/ - has some industry-wide retail reports
http://www.census.gov/mrts/www/data/html/nsal05.html - has some book numbers
http://www.junglescan.com/ - tracks Amazon sales rank
posted by mattbucher at 8:38 AM on October 26, 2006

Well, honestly, the older the book, the less likely accurate sales figures exist. Even the publisher may not know exactly, or at least won't have that information readily available, for books that were originally published long before sales started being tracked electronically.
posted by lampoil at 8:39 AM on October 26, 2006

Nevermind about Junglescan. It seems to be dead.
posted by mattbucher at 8:42 AM on October 26, 2006

If there is just one title you are looking for, why not tell us and let us try to track down some specific information? I agree with lampoil that publishers are likely to have the most accurate sales figures, but with out of print titles and reissues and new editions, it's hard to collate that data.
posted by mattbucher at 8:45 AM on October 26, 2006

If you have access to it, Above the Treeline will give you data for member stores.
posted by drezdn at 9:49 AM on October 26, 2006

If you're looking for information sales figures for a single book (e.g. how many copies have been sold of The Grapes of Wrath or Beloved), it's next to impossible.

The publisher(s) alone have the raw data and they will not tell, since it's almost always in their interest to hide and/or inflate the numbers. Even when publishers release information (such as on book cover copy of bestsellers), the number they show is the copies they printed, which is always more than the number sold.

In some cases you could probably get best-guess estimates, but there are complicating factors even in trying to estimate.

The longer a book has been in print, the harder it gets, since it will likely go through several editions, with different publishers for hardback, paperback, etc. Depending on the age of the book, those publishers may no longer exist (and even if they do they've probably been consumed by a media conglomerate and who knows if they have archived sales data from years back).

With international editions, even if you just care about the English-language versions (US, UK, Australia), it's all the more complex.

If the book is in the public domain (as with many "classics"), I guarantee no one outside of the Library of Congress is keeping track of all the different versions, and they have no sales information at all.
posted by camcgee at 10:11 AM on October 26, 2006

The Book Standard launched the Book Sales Research service this year. You can insert your ISBN and they will give you sales reports. It is kinda expensive at $85 per lookup, but it is definitely cheaper than using bookscan. here is the URL
The Book Standard Book Sales Research Service
posted by lorelaig at 7:18 AM on October 27, 2006

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