I first heard about this via Stephen Elliott’s very fine Daily Rumpus newsletter, then tracked down some more info via TechCrunch. Amazon has begun to offer Bookscan sales tracking data to authors for free. Stephen Elliott writes:
If you’re an author you can now see how many books you’ve sold through Amazon.com. They’ll connect you to the Book Scan database, you’ll see how new copies of your book moved in retail stores across the country. This used to take longer. You would ask your agent, who would ask your publisher. You had to trust people. Once in a while you got a royalty statement. Sometimes you didn’t get royalty statements. Sometimes you forgot to open your mail. Usually you signed a bad contract, gave away your tiny slice of pie.
Why is Amazon doing this? Most likely to undercut publishers. You’re probably not selling as many books as you think. eBook sales aren’t counted, but they’ll show you kindle sales, if you have any …
I like this. I’m a fan of transparency.
FWR likes to do what we can to support local, independent bookstores – when there’s a link to buy a book, it goes to Powell’s or Indiebound. However, information is power, and this is valuable information for authors whose books are out there in the marketplace. To paraphrase Stephen Elliott, transparency=good.