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Nielsen Book Targets U.S. Market With Bowker Products
Posted On September 3, 2013
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Nielsen, the media and information measuring service, is acquiring two product units from ProQuest’s Bowker: the Business Intelligence and Commerce Solutions units. The deal, which will close in a month, gives Nielsen the ability to measure print and ebook sales in the U.S., as well as its traditional strength in the U.K., while tracking book volume and sales trends using a variety of demographic criteria.

The two services will be integrated into the Nielsen book tracking platform, which currently includes the BookData, BookNet, Registration Agencies, and BookScan services. The newly acquired products from Bowker’s Business Intelligence unit include PubTrack Digital, PubTrack Christian, PubTrack Higher-Ed, Bowker Market Research Books & Consumers, Global Ebook Monitor, and a custom research service. Commerce Solutions products include PubEasy, Pubnet, and PacStream, which will allow Nielsen to offer retailers a service that can source and order books throughout the English-language book market. Bowker will continue to work with publishers producing its Books In Print service and through such services in its role of managing ISBN/ISNI identifiers for the U.S. and Australia and its Syndetic Solutions and Summon discovery services.

The Nielsen Book service is based in the U.K. and is built around the acquisition of Whitaker’s (publisher of the British Books in Print) in the late 1990s. Its BookData service currently collects book information from more than 70 countries (including the U.K., Ireland, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, India, and South Africa) and encompasses 22.5 million-plus titles. It also works closely with data providers in the U.S. Though relying primarily on its own data collection and partnerships (e.g., Ingram Content Group, Inc. metadata), the new acquisitions include a license to tap Bowker’s Books in Print for an unspecified time.

Other current services include the Nielsen BookNet Transaction service and Nielsen BookScan Retail Sales Analysis that provide continuous retail monitoring service for English-language books in the U.K., Ireland, the U.S., Australia, South Africa, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, and India. Nielsen BookScan already gathers point-of-sale book data from about 12,000 locations across the U.S., representing about 75% of the nation’s book sales. It provides subscribers with comprehensive reports from a wide variety of perspectives organized by title and author, by category, by region, or by DMA (direct memory access).

Expansion in Due Time

In a typical week, sales of more than 400,000 different titles are collected, coded, and analyzed, producing complete market information for retailers, publishers, and the media. The company launched LibScan in 2009 which allows the collection and analysis of library borrowing data. To date, 68 U.K. public library authorities have joined the panel; the aim is to continue to build this number. Jonathan Nowell, president of Nielsen Book, indicated that he would “love” to expand LibScan to include U.S. libraries.

The Nielsen Book group currently employs 120 staff in the U.K. The 20 employees currently running the acquired services at Bowker will be integrated into Nielsen operations, according to Nowell, who expects the acquisition to “more than double our U.S. operation.”

The acquisitions should offer Nielsen particular strength in analyzing the impact of ebook sales in the U.S. and the U.K. while providing insights and trends about the volume and value of book sales by various demographic criteria. PubEasy is a web-based service providing 24/7, real-time access to customer service information from multiple suppliers. It is used globally by booksellers to place orders, check price and title availability, check order status, and track orders online with participating publishers, distributors, and wholesalers. It includes the Invoice Central service converting electronic invoices into PDF documents for transmission through PubEasy. Pubnet provides end-to-end POS (point-of-sale) integration, web-based ordering/management tools, fast response ordering, invoicing capabilities, shipment tracking, and a unique title database, which is used by more than 4,000 booksellers in the U.S. and Canada.

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Barbara Quint was senior editor of Online Searcher, co-editor of The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research, and a columnist for Information Today.

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