How Newspapers / Magazines Deceive Readers

08 Oct

A Joke? Statistics about the numbers of e-Books versus print books – taken from companies that sell only print books? Yes, that’s right – or have you ever purchased an e-book at WalMart, Costco, Sam’s Club, Target or K-Mart? How can statistics be true if one (large) part of the measurement is not taken?



Flawed Survey, Sloppy Research, No Fact-Checking…
“Print Books Still Outselling e-Books” or “Print Books Outsold Ebooks In First Half Of 2014” are the big headlines these days at newspapers and magazines, from PublishersWeekly to GoodeReader and Huffington Post.
“According to Nielsen’s survey, e-books constituted only 23 percent of unit sales for the first six months of the year, while hardcovers made up 25 percent and paperback 42 percent of sales.”

What’s NOT Included in these Articles:

  • The fact that NielsenScan covers a maximum of 75% of the US and UK book market
  • NielsenScan does NOT count e-books at all! How can they compare print vs e-books?
  • From which book retailers and which publishers – trade and / or independent publishers?
  • Does it include used book sales or only new books? Just launched books or back lists? Book retailers usually stock only new books…
  • In which countries are these stats taken – probably it means just the USA.   But after all we are on the world-wide web, right?  And in countries who are avid e-book readers, the picture looks completely different, e.g. the Netherlands, who has more e-book readers than the UK, or Germany.
  • According to Nielsen: “Library, professional, corporate, premium, export, and some specialty retail sales are not included in the BookScan physical panel.
  • NielsenScan does NOT report any Print-on-Demand books including CreateSpace!
  • Amazon reminds authors:
    “Note about Amazon print sales: Sales reported depends on which retailers selling your book and participate in Nielsen BookScan, and whether your book is registered with one of the companies from which Nielsen derives its list of reported ASINs. If your book is registered with the Ingram Company, for example, you will see sales info. If your book is Print on Demand, your publishing company may not report ISBNs to Ingram and you may not see sales information. If a disproportionate number of your books are sold by stores that do not report to Nielsen, your sales information may underestimate your total sales.”
    These are the Facts:
  • Millions of independent published books, Print-on-Demand books and e-books as well as retailers are NOT included at all in Nielsen’s statistics
  • How wrong Nielsen’s numbers are, can be found in several articles, one of these on Forbes, where authors proofed their royalty statements, that have completely different book sales numbers.
  • NielsenScan covers only major book chains and mass markets, such as WalMart, Costco, Sam’s, Target or K-Mart in the United States and Great Britain. Presently they try to target the Australian market.
  • Amazon cautions: Most Amazon print sales are included in the sales figures; however, Kindle or other e-Book sales are NOT included because those figures are NOT reported by Nielsen BookScan.


A Harvard University Article Explains:
“Prior to BookScan, the only source for market data for some individual titles were Best Seller lists, compiled by publications such as the New York Times that survey selections of book stores from which they generate estimates of rankings. However, these published lists don’t indicate how many copies of a book have sold or the relative sales among books on the lists.”
“Since 2009, BookScan does supply weekly “book charts” to the Wall Street Journal, but they are just best seller lists. The bottom line is, only book publishers have comprehensive sales data, and they don’t usually make it public. Strange as it may seem, we know of no reliable, publicly-available way to get comprehensive statistics for book sales at this time. Nielsen BookScan, which reports point-of-sale data, but even that claims to represent only 75% of all retail sales!”
“If you are looking for current sales figures, you can use to get a general idea, although it relies on very recent numbers, so the figures are not really accurate. The “Author Central” feature on does provide BookScan data to current authors only.”

How Bestsellers Are “Made” by NielsenScan

“Bestseller doesn’t necessarly mean it is a terrific book, worth to read. It rather shows a 2-3 week old sales statistic of books that sold well in chain bookstores and at independent booksellers, who are connected in a certain country (e.g. USA or UK) to Nielsen BookScan which currently covers approximately 75% of retail sales.”

To Compare e-Book Sales with Print Sales
Paper books and e-books will co-exist peacefully.  Most book lovers read their favoured titles not only in print, but as well in e-book format.  A comparison of e-book sales with print sales will NEVER show the real numbers!  Good only for a catchy headline, but it lacks the journalistic facts: who, when, where, what, why and how.
If Nielsen wants to deliver serious stats, they would have to be done world-wide, at all book retail outlets and all publishers – small, big, trade or independent.  So, if someone is stating statistics they need to be explained: from which country and which retailers those “statistics” are rendered and that they not show the real picture – especially when they are taken from retailers who DO NOT sell e-books at all.  It’s like comparing apples and pears, don’t take them seriously!

BookBoon Offers Everyone to Participate in a Survey:
“In June 2014 we started a new eBook survey to get an idea of the latest trends. Please help us by answering our 11 questions (takes maximum 2 minutes). At the end of the survey you can see the preliminary results. Click here to start the survey.”


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