Nielsen book ratings essentially imply a measure of the sales of books by means of point-of-sale software systems installed in the leading retail bookshops all across the globe.
As per the words of Jim King, the senior vice president of The Nielsen Company, Nielsen book ratings have gained popularity as a standard source of information. They are being relied upon heavily by the world's leading publications and media corporates. For instance, Dow Jones & Company, a leading publication house globally, incorporates Nielsen ratings in one of its largest selling business publications called The Wall Street Journal. For inclusion in this publication, these book’s ratings by Nielsen are customized in the form of bestseller charts.
The alliance between the two companies, Nielsen and Dow Jones & Company, is further extended as the book ratings find a coveted place in WSJ.com or The Wall Street Journal Digital Network. As per the claims of The Nielsen Company, these book ratings are a reliable measure of book sales for use by the concerned entities of publishers, book libraries, global media, booksellers, and authors.
Dishonest claims really, considering the fact that the company has always been partial and heavily biased in favor of conservative book writers like Sarah Palin and Bill O'Rielly, reporting their bulk sales as part of their overall sales. Now, somebody may ask Jim King why the bulk sales are not reported in case of business authors. Why their bulk sales get disqualified? Simply because the company has an agreement with The Wall Street Journal?
With criticism growing by the end of the day, there can be no denying the facts. Yes, it is a fact that Nielsen point-of-sale software system, called BookScan, is not implemented by several leading retail bookstores, including Wal-Mart. And, in the absence of these outlets, how can Nielsen numbers be considered a true measure of an author's rating? As per The Nielsen Company claims, it covers around 75% of book sales globally. However, with retail stores like Wal-Mart refusing to report their sales numbers to Nielsen, who is there to validate the authenticity of such big claims?
Another reason why you cannot expect an accurate picture is that Nielsen ignores a majority of independent bookstores all around the world. And, these book channels can actually cater to a big consumer base. Being extensively used by publishers, Nielsen ratings stand testimony to further discrepancies as the bulk purchases, by authors, get recorded as separate sales entries. And, reselling by consumers gets counted as a valid sales entry.
The software, BookScan, is further limited in the sense that it does not keep track of the sales or the number of books supplied to institutions like libraries. And, with the publishers deciding to use these ratings as a standard measure of sales, the authors are the entities suffering the most in terms of their money advances and royalties. A structure is needed where leading retail outlets like Wal-Mart as well as other grocery outlets start making use of The Nielsen Company services. But, till that time, a better approach would be to consider Nielsen ratings as a mere insight to book sales and not as a standard measure of sales.