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Snoopy

Amber Stults tweeted a link to an article in the L.A. Times, announcing that Amazon is now offering access to Bookscan data through the Amazon Author Central program.

I’ve checked my Author Central page, and what do you know — I’ve got pages and pages of shiny, wonderful sales data.  This appears to be pretty much the full Bookscan data for all of my books, not just the Amazon sales.

ETA: Amazon is providing a four-week window of sales data.  Meaning you’ll be able to see how your books are doing over the past four weeks, but won’t be able to check back to see sales from six months ago.

They’re also providing more information about Amazon ranks tracked over time for your books.

If you need me, I’ll be having a datagasm…

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Comments

( 36 comments — Leave a comment )
stormsdotter
Dec. 9th, 2010 03:24 pm (UTC)
If you need me, I’ll be having a datagam...

Thanks for the laugh, Jim. I've been needing one today.
jimhines
Dec. 9th, 2010 03:26 pm (UTC)
Happy to help :-)
autopope
Dec. 9th, 2010 03:25 pm (UTC)
Any chance you can point us at where to go to sign up for author central? This is the first I've heard of it -- what is it?
jimhines
Dec. 9th, 2010 03:26 pm (UTC)
Just updated the post with the link: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/
autopope
Dec. 9th, 2010 04:04 pm (UTC)
Must. Not. Look. At. Reader. Reviews.
jimhines
Dec. 9th, 2010 04:50 pm (UTC)
Stay strong, Charlie!
temporus
Dec. 9th, 2010 03:29 pm (UTC)
Oh no. I think we're going to lose Jim for a while as he revels in the graphs and statistics....

Don't go into the numbers Jim. Look away.
jimhines
Dec. 9th, 2010 03:30 pm (UTC)
It's too late for me. Save yourselves!
aliettedb
Dec. 9th, 2010 03:44 pm (UTC)
Er, wow. Thanks, that's awesome (ok, not very good for my addiction to amazon, but kind of cool). Now I get to freak out about numbers :)
jimhines
Dec. 9th, 2010 03:48 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean. I think Amazon has just pushed thousands of authors over the edge with this move.

I'm still delighted to have it, though!
aliettedb
Dec. 9th, 2010 03:57 pm (UTC)
Me too, but I think I'll need to exercise restraint...
chickwriter
Dec. 9th, 2010 03:46 pm (UTC)
I saw a tweet on this about half an hour ago and I'm all "NUMBERS!!! PRETTY NUMBERS!!!!"

This is so bloody handy!

::immerses self in data::
jimhines
Dec. 9th, 2010 03:50 pm (UTC)
I'm very curious how Amazon negotiated this with Bookscan. And what Amazon expects to get out of it, beyond the higher traffic from obsessive authors.

Either way though, it makes me very, very happy :-)
cathshaffer
Dec. 9th, 2010 03:46 pm (UTC)
This amuses me in several different ways. Let us know if you need someone to hack your computer so you can't get to Amazon. :-)
jimhines
Dec. 9th, 2010 03:49 pm (UTC)
Fortunately, it's not "live" data, so the urge to refresh every five minutes isn't as strong. Looks like it will just be a weekly check-and-obsess process...
cathshaffer
Dec. 9th, 2010 03:50 pm (UTC)
Thank God!
barbarienne
Dec. 9th, 2010 03:58 pm (UTC)
Hee hee hee! I read the first line and my instant reaction was, "Jim is going to s**t himself with joy over this." I'm betting you'll be hitting that thing every week or two and downloading the data for keepsies outside the 4-week window.

Hey, it means more robust analysis charts for the rest of us to read about on your blog! Hooray!
jimhines
Dec. 9th, 2010 04:00 pm (UTC)
"I'm betting you'll be hitting that thing every week or two and downloading the data for keepsies outside the 4-week window."

Well, duh! Won't everybody?

I've already got a spreadsheet of the full sales history on all of my books, but now I have direct access to the data instead of needing a backdoor route :-)
nihilistic_kid
Dec. 9th, 2010 04:11 pm (UTC)
Even with the real Bookscan, the one-click stuff only goes back thirteen weeks unless you set it up to dl onto a spreadsheet.

But the real advantage to a real Bookscan account is getting to see how other people's books are doing.
jimhines
Dec. 9th, 2010 04:14 pm (UTC)
I've been wondering how easy it would be to fool Amazon Author Central into thinking I'm the author of someone else's book...
beth_bernobich
Dec. 9th, 2010 04:50 pm (UTC)
Should we all try to register as Jim Hines?
casacorona
Dec. 9th, 2010 04:43 pm (UTC)
Remember: Bookscan doesn't catch 100% of sales. It only tracks bookstores. Useful, yes. Not the whole story.
jimhines
Dec. 9th, 2010 04:50 pm (UTC)
Most bookstores, but not all. Full list is posted at https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/help?topicID=200580390#stores

Still gets the majority of sales, in my experience, and is a much better tool than anything else I've got.
gerbilicous
Dec. 9th, 2010 07:39 pm (UTC)
OMGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG Thank you for posting this! I felt so terrible constantly bugging my agent about sales numbers. They were always cheerful about it, but I felt so NEEDY. Now I can assuage my need for data at whim! THANK YOU, INTERNET!

- Rachel Aaron
jimhines
Dec. 9th, 2010 08:40 pm (UTC)
::Grin:: Try not to spend *too* much time staring at all of the graphs.

(And yes, that was me playing the role of pot to your kettle...)
sarah_prineas
Dec. 9th, 2010 07:59 pm (UTC)
The week-to-week sales data isn't all that useful out of context. What I think IS useful is to see the general trend for sales, whether trending higher or lower over the past few weeks. That way I have more information about whether my series is entering a death spiral or not.

jimhines
Dec. 9th, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC)
I find the week-to-week helpful right after the book comes out, to compare how it's doing to previous releases. But after those first few months, it's the longer-term data and trends that I find most useful.
sarah_prineas
Dec. 9th, 2010 08:50 pm (UTC)
I should have been clearer, too--the data not interesting *to me*. 'Cos I don't do numbers AT ALL.

That said, another useful point is the map, so we can see where the book is selling best. Mine have a few interesting hot spots, and some that I can correlate to other things (like, the first book is selling well in the Salt Lake City area, probably because it's the Beehive Book Award winner from this year. Stuff like that).

Also interesting: to correlate hot spots to hits on my website. I could have predicted the good sales numbers for the San Francisco area based on how often my site gets hit from there.

Anyway. Yeah. Interesting.
jimhines
Dec. 9th, 2010 08:52 pm (UTC)
My agent discovered that Fred Meyer had begun stocking the goblin books earlier this year based on geographic anomalies in the Bookscan data :-) (I think he pores over this stuff even more than I do!)

Hadn't thought about comparing web site hits to Bookscan data. Oh, great -- one more correlation to study. Thanks a lot, Sarah!
deborahblakehps
Dec. 9th, 2010 08:57 pm (UTC)
Wow. Very interesting stuff. I just went and checked my numbers (well, duh) and found some unexpected data.
Top areas for sales of my books (NF on witchcraft)
1) NY, NY
2) LA, CA
3) Johnsoncity, TENN
I get the 1st 2, but that third one is quite the head scratcher.

Also, book #4, which came out in July is doing best (it's a spellbook, and they tend to be popular). Followed by book #3 (last year's) and THEN #5 which came out in September.

I have no idea what any of this means, but it is still fascinating...

See what you've done???????
jimhines
Dec. 9th, 2010 09:03 pm (UTC)
Hey, if I'm gonna obsess, I want company!
deborahblakehps
Dec. 9th, 2010 09:05 pm (UTC)
Not to worry--I've got your back.
swords_and_pens
Dec. 10th, 2010 04:44 am (UTC)
This? This is great to know.

Thanks for the post!
jimhines
Dec. 10th, 2010 03:14 pm (UTC)
I don't know ... I suspect there will be some people who were happier not knowing :-)

I don't think it should be too bad, though. I mean, it's not like Amazon rankings refreshing every 15 minutes on release date. This just updates once a week, which kind of limits the amount of obsessing we can do.
ambyr
Dec. 10th, 2010 04:24 pm (UTC)
Five years ago, I was working at a small(ish) publishing company, and they gave me a Bookscan account. And I went SQUEE CAN I USE THIS ON MY OFF HOURS TOO? to the deep perplexity of my boss, who could not understand why I wanted to spend my free time reading through pages of sales statistics but assured me that they weren't being charged per search, so use it as much as I want. Which ended up being rather a lot.

Then I quit working for them--and discovered that they weren't in the habit of closing outgoing employees' accounts. Every time I try to log in, I worry they'll have finally gotten their act together, but it's been three years, and so far, so good. I devoutly hope they continue not to notice. I don't know what I'd do without being able to feed my data addiction.
hyptosis
Dec. 13th, 2010 05:05 am (UTC)
Man, that is pretty great news for writers though, I'd love to be able to keep track on a lot of my work. I see it turn up in the weirdest places sometimes. Or just to see how it is performing.
( 36 comments — Leave a comment )

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