Independent publishers were out in force at this week’s open day from Nielsen Book, supported by the IPG. Here are some of the things we learned the company does to support members
1 Provide ISBNs
The ISBN—International Standard Book Number—is what uniquely identifies everything that publishers produce, including digital files as well as physical products. It is the common and global standard for identification, and the bedrock of efficient communication about books. Nielsen adds around 180,000 new ISBNs a year in the UK, as well as 3,500 new publisher prefixes—which shows the enormous scale of the market.
2 Sharpen up metadata
Metadata is a subject the IPG has covered in great depth at events over the years: because while it might not be glamorous, it is essential to modern publishing. It is crucial for getting books found by the several thousand retailers, libraries and others who use discovery services like Nielsen BookData, and the information it contains can persuade these people that a book is worth buying, then make it easier to purchase.
Metadata should include identifiers, title, format, classification, price, availability, images and more, all supplied with scrupulous accuracy well in advance of publication, and updated promptly with any changes. The preferred standard is BIC Basic
, and the Nielsen Title Editor
portal is the user-friendly place to manage metadata.
3 Enhance discoverability
All publishers can get free basic Nielsen BookData listings for their title information for up to 1,000 of their products—but its Enhanced Service can improve discoverability further. Enriched with descriptions, reviews, promotional information, contents listings and more, it can convince more people to buy a book that they find online. Research by Nielsen Book claims there is a strong link between good metadata and sales
, suggesting that it can increase print sales by about 35% and more than double them online.
4 Go inside books
Another boost to discoverability comes from Nielsen Book2Look
, a widget for websites that lets publishers add look-inside, video and audio features to their content, then share it across social media, and link to places where it can be bought. Nielsen says it has created more than 20,000 widgets since the service was launched in 2013.
5 Improve electronic trading
Various electronic services can help publishers navigate their way around the complex supply chain, smoothing trade with retailers in particular. They include order routing system BookNet
for title and availability information and tracking, and ecommerce system PubNet
in north America. Nielsen handles more than 7 million order lines a year to support 9,000 active publishers and 3,250 booksellers, and its services make book ordering easier and faster.
6 Research the market
Good research is crucial in such a crowded marketplace, and there are plenty of sources that can improve publishers’ strategies and help them work out why their books are selling as they are. Nielsen Book offers insights into book buyers and habits via its Books & Consumers service
, based on monthly interviews with representative samples of the population, plus syndicated and proprietary ad hoc research.
7 Measure sales
For research into sales in particular, Nielsen BookScan
has in-depth quantitative data in countries including the UK, Ireland and US. Its stats can help publishers make smarter decisions about short-term things like print runs and stock control, and identify important trends over the longer term. PubTrack Digital
meanwhile gives participating publishers access to sales data for the ebook market. Discounts on BookScan services
are available for IPG members.Nielsen is happy to answer any questions via its Publisher Help Desk, and has plenty of useful resources at the Nielsen Book website.