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I'm a writer, working on a non-fiction book proposal. Finding public, free sales numbers for comparable titles is nearly impossible. BookScan is a subscriber service run by Nielsen. "Above the Treeline" is a subscriber service that collects sales data from some independent book sellers. But I'm looking for reliable services that I could tap into.

Any suggestions?

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Ingram is the largest book distributor in the business. You can call their automated stock check number at (800) 937-0995. Enter a book's ISBN, and you'll get back its current sales data.

You can also get Amazon's historical data by signing up for an account at TitleZ and selecting the books you want to track.

Both of the above are free services.

Edited to update: titlez is down, unfortunately. You can purchase an account at http://www.ranktracer.com/ (currently $9/year for a single product or $30/month unlimited) to track Amazon SKU sales on a going-forward basis, but cannot get historical data before your subscription started.

  • Title Z is down, but perhaps there are other sites that track this data? – Neil Fein Oct 12 '15 at 3:14
  • I called and didn't get any sales data. I got quantity available, pricing, that kind of stuff. – User Apr 10 '18 at 3:19
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In my experience, you're not likely to find much of anything useful without paying. The Association of American Publishers has some statistics for free (2009 Preliminary Estimates), but you'll have to buy the report to get anything meaningful. Is it worth $1250? Probably not in your case.

Sales figures for the publishing industry just aren't readily available. Slushpile.net ran an interesting post in 2007 on the matter, "More on Book Sales".

I can't provide a reason for the lack of availability.

You might try developing a list of similar titles and then seeing if the publishers of those titles would share at least print-run statistics.

  • 1
    Reason? Simple: greed. Okay, "wanting money". Of course, there are costs involved in compiling a report (or Nielsen's figures) But how high are those costs? We don't know, and they're not telling. – Jürgen A. Erhard Feb 8 '11 at 12:59
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    Another factor is: if authors did know actual real figures, they may be in a better bargaining position. Keeping them (that is, us) in the dark is "good for business". Oh, and it's also a good thing (for them) to keep the numbers (the actual numbers) from the better-selling authors. It's surprizing (if you believe in honesty) how many well-known authors had to sue and/or do an audit on the sales to get at the real figures (accompanied by sometimes hefty "late" royalty payments) – Jürgen A. Erhard Feb 8 '11 at 13:06
  • In case your wondering: yes, I'm pretty much a cynic when it comes to business. – Jürgen A. Erhard Feb 8 '11 at 13:07
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    Any author can see their up-to-date & historical BookScan numbers at Amazon's Author Central (free). – Dori Feb 8 '11 at 20:06
  • I apologize for the momentary deletion; I accidentally converted the wrong answer to a comment (page-reload glitch). – Monica Cellio Apr 25 '17 at 16:49
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In my experience, as a general rule-of-thumb, if you look at the number of reviews a book has on Amazon and multiply by 100, you'll be in the ballpark of their sales on Amazon.

Some books might be double or quadruple this, and others might be half or less, but it gives you a general idea of whether you're talking about a book that sold 1,000 copies, 10,000 copies or 100,000 copies.

Indie-published genre novels on Amazon might account for 90% of that title's total sales (in other words Amazon sales divided by Amazon and non-Amazon sales), whereas a traditionally published book's sales on Amazon might account for 30-50% of that title's total sales.

  • Up-vote, though this skews towards newer releases and titles with a tech-savvy readership. – emallove Apr 22 '15 at 16:52
  • "In my experience, as a general rule-of-thumb, if you look at the number of reviews a book has on Amazon and multiply by 100, you'll be in the ballpark of their sales on Amazon" Yes, that was a good method to approximate sales. However, amazon (UK) is now aggressively deleting reviews of anyone who may have any association with the author at all: I have lost reviews from buyers who chose to follow me on social media. I was encouraging readers to discuss my writing as well as networking them to advise them of the progress of other titles etc. If you want to keep your reviews (even poor ones!) - – Richard T Weston Jan 14 '17 at 10:57
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I found new book sales, rankings, and reviews tracking service. It tracks all your book data from Amazon (Apple books, google books, Smashwords as well) and puts them into one chart in the app. Everything is so synoptical. They are planning to add the category analyzer as well. It saved quite a lot of my time. And their support is very nice too, very quick in response, polite, willing and open to suggestions.

The whole BookCore app is for free and there is a demo version on their site as well – which does not require any registration. You can just give it a try. Really saves a lot of time and effort. Hopefully, it is going to be as helpful for you as it is for me. The website is https://bookcore.net/ Have a good day 🙂

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nowhere

Nielsen BookScan, only covers 75% of retail printed book sales. They don't have the remaining 25%, they don't have ebook sales, and they don't have non-retail sales such as direct sales. Nielsen BookScan provides an estimate, not accurate numbers. And it is the best service out there.

Only the publisher knows how much they have actually sold.

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