BISG Bookstats Update

By Katherine
Bookstats data report doesn't deliver

Photo courtesy of Bigstockphoto.com User jannoon028

After last week’s article, I reached out to the folks that produce Bookstats. I am pleased to report that they responded almost immediately, offering to speak with me and address any concerns I might have. They then followed up with the director of research the following week, who gave me additional information at no additional charge that I (correctly) pointed out had not been in this year’s report: that data I mentioned in my first post concerning the ebook versus print book information.  I would share it here, but feel that would be inappropriate given they gave it to me in good faith for my own use. Big thank you to the Bookstats team for their responsiveness and open communication – not to mention the data I needed.

Here is the response:

*Note – I am paraphrasing the response from several different exchanges.

  • Bookstats is produced jointly by BISG and AAP (Association of American Publishers) – both 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations.
  • As such, their mission is not to maximize profit, nor is the primary goal to use Bookstats as a profit-generating project.
  • As a trade organization, they are responsible to their members, which includes fiscal responsibility, but the mission is, first, to serve the membership.  Those members represent a range of companies from the very small to the very large, a listing is available here.
  • Each year, they hire an analyst to review the raw data and pull interesting points to create the summary and annual report. The parameters for the two PDFs are 10-20 pages for the summary and 70-80 pages for the full report. At 20+ pages, last year’s report was particularly long. They do not guarantee the length or content will be consistent year to year.

So – you may be thinking – solution is simple, Katherine, become a member! I agree that would be great. Unfortunately, that membership gets you a *discount* on research and other services, aside from the report that is currently $99 which would be free. The least expensive membership level for a company is ~$1000 annually. From what I can tell, the only thing I would really want/need from the group is research. And the really good research would still be several thousand dollars more. For a big company, obviously this is a very reasonable expense. For a small start-up like us, I am balancing that number against things I could spend money on that will bring a direct return on investment and sadly research rarely falls into that category.

As an aside, I did suggest that they look at their membership structure to make it more affordable for emerging companies or individuals (like bloggers). At present, an individual (for example a blogger or consultant) would pay $625 annually. Again, this is not a huge fee for some, and the difference between paying for groceries for another. Can you imagine if all book bloggers or independent authors were members? The power that would offer seems worth doing. The reach that would garner – being comprised of several thousand sites!

This has all made me stop and think. Some of the best data I have seen came from the online survey done by the E-Book Formatting Fairies site that I reported on here which they made free to all. What if we created some sort of Co-op designed to do similar research at a price anyone could afford? What if we leveraged the power of the crowd to fund it on a site like Kickstarter? At present, it is a bit beyond my available time, but it certainly has me thinking. The data we could get! Oh…the data….

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About Katherine

Katherine is the Chief Marketing Officer and co-founder of Booktrope Publishing. Prior to Booktrope, her background was primarily in technology and online marketing in both Seattle and California, working at companies such as NetApp, ADIC and Siemens. Her life-long love of books, and a desire to bring a new type of focus to marketing them, had her join forces with some other bookish folks to create Booktrope. She is the co-author of How to Market a Book and has served on the University of Washington’s Digital Publishing Certificate Program advisory board. She has presented at many bookish events such as the Pacific Northwest Writers Association conference and the Northwest Bookfest. She has also worked as an actress, and a corporate trainer. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theater from the University of Southern California. Katherine currently lives in Fall City, WA with her canine and human family members.