Independents Praise BookScan for Cutting Time in Reporting to Book Sense Bestseller List

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A growing number of independent booksellers are using the BookScan service to report to the Book Sense Bestseller List.

In March 2002, ABA began offering booksellers a new electronic method for reporting to the Book Sense Bestseller List: BookScan, which ABA Director of Technical Services Jeff Wexler characterized as "by far the easiest method to transmit Book Sense Bestseller List sales data to ABA." In addition to reporting a big time savings, booksellers using the BookScan reporting option receive exclusive sales reports for their store and region.

Following an agreement between ABA and the White Plains, New York-based BookScan, a division of VNU Marketing Information, Inc. (parent company of ACNielsen), bookstores can now use the BookScan program with an integrated Point-of-Sale (POS) module to generate a weekly sales data file and to orchestrate the transmission of the file. Currently, the POS vendors include Anthology, Booklog, Computac/Square One, IBID, and WordStock, said Wexler.

The bookstore provides BookScan with all sales information regarding the sales of books, books on tape/CD, calendars, and other items regularly sold by bookstores. The data does not include any information regarding the specific price at which the bookstore sells any product. The reporting is done on an individual retail store basis and is compiled by the bookstore using the BookScan software. The bookstore provides the data to BookScan on a weekly basis by Monday, 11:00 p.m. EST, which, in turn, is sent by BookScan to ABA.

For some POS systems, BookScan will automatically generate the sales data file. For most, it is menu-driven: The bookseller need only click to generate the file and click to transmit it. Either way, it’s easier than any other reporting method, say booksellers. "You get to push a button, and it’s done," said Lyn Roberts, manager of Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi, one of the first IBID POS users to go live with BookScan. "It doesn’t cost a thing, and it saves time for us."

"Everybody should do it," said Alaine Borgias, events and publications coordinator for Village Books of Bellingham, Washington, who added: "The more stores reporting, the better chance that there will be a regional bestseller list. I’d like to see that."

After reporting to BookScan, the store receives a confidential report on its sales performance from the previous week. Additionally, the store receives a Dominant Market Area Report (DMA), a comprehensive listing, exclusive to BookScan reporters, of the 50 top-selling books in its metropolitan area. DMA allows a bookstore to compare its sales results with the book sales within its local market area. Square Books’ Roberts told BTW that her DMA lists could possibly alert her to titles that might not have been on her "radar screen."

Denver, Colorado’s Tattered Cover also uses BookScan to report to the bestseller list, as reported in a previous BTW article. "The reports we get back each week for national sales are fascinating," Tattered Cover’s Matt Miller said. "It has become increasingly easier to report to the Book Sense Bestseller List, and now it could not be any simpler. We love it."

The process for becoming a BookScan reporting store is simple, Wexler pointed out, and is free. After contacting BookScan, the bookstore receives a short contract that explains how BookScan works. After the bookseller sends back the signed contract, BookScan provides the bookseller with a log-in name and password. Finally, the bookseller contacts its POS vendor with this information and the vendor sends the bookstore the BookScan software. The bookstore only has to install it on its POS system.

For more information on BookScan or for questions regarding reporting to the Book Sense Bestseller List, please contact Jeff Wexler at (800) 637-0037, ext. 1274, or via e-mail at [email protected].