BookStats Data Disappoints

By Katherine
Bookstats data report doesn't deliver

Photo courtesy of Bigstockphoto.com User jannoon028

Now, you all know how much I love data. I was really excited just by the announcement that the data was on its way back in June from BISG via their BookStats reports (I blogged about it here). So I have eagerly looked forward to the day when I could plunk down my $99 and get my annual data fix. I had anticipated being able to share some high level insights with you all, and encourage you to buy the report for yourself (for logical reasons, they don’t want you to just share the data free of charge, and I can respect that).

Unfortunately, this blog post will not be about how geeked out about the data I am. Why? I didn’t get the data I was looking for. For the first time, the BookStats data is deeply disappointing. I am sure it was collected. I am fairly sure the trends and patterns we have been tracking continued – for example the fact that over the last four years the digital sales have more than doubled year over year and were clearly eating mass-market paperbacks for lunch. But unfortunately for me, that data is no longer provided in the least expensive version of the report. Last year’s $99 report was 27 pages long. This year’s report is 13 pages long. Yes, a full 14 pages less of data.

Now, I am all for businesses making a profit. I am all for people charging appropriately for something of value. But this seems extreme. Unfortunately, because I am part of a start up, spending the amount needed for the next tier up of the report is hard to justify at $995 (we tend to spend on things that will net us a direct ROI at this early stage of our company).

I have to say, I was a big proponent of this organization and their data. I am deeply disappointed in this decision and find myself wondering what might have motivated it. Greed? Pressure from the traditional side? Ugly and depressing data towards key sponsors? Maybe the new staff reorganization?  But I confess, I keep coming back to the thought that the Big-5 are undoubtedly easily able to afford the $995 whereas an indie author, small press or book blogger would find that number daunting. Yes, I know I sound all “conspiracy theory” again.

Did anyone but me notice this change in detail and shorter format?

I wonder if BISG has ever calculated how much it costs to acquire new customers? Certainly, I am questioning whether what I got was worth $99. At this point, it doesn’t seem like it is. Which further causes me to question whether I would trust the data to be useful from this group ever again – i.e. should I remain a customer. If you have ever wondered about customer acquisition costs, you can play with this nifty customer acquisition calculator by Panalysis (who do web analytics and marketing optimization).

I have reached out to the press contact at BISG and will post their reply should I get one. UPDATE – I did indeed receive a reply which warranted its own post here. Thank you to the Bookstats team for their prompt and courteous response.

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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.