Monograph Sales and Ranking

Can apply to:  Books

Metric definition: Sales figures record the number of times a book has been purchased. Sales ranking is a derivative metric that demonstrates how well a book is selling in comparison to other books.

Metric calculation: Sales figures record the number of recent sales of individual titles across the data sources being tracked by the metric provider. Sales rank is a relative representation of how a book is selling in comparison to all books or other books in the same subject category.

Data sources: Point of sale data from book retailers and consumers.

Appropriate use cases:  Book sales and rankings can be used to demonstrate popular attention to a work.

Limitations: Detailed, complete, and historical sales information can be difficult to obtain, as even the most comprehensive sources are limited to the recent past and do not include sales to libraries or used book sales, for example. The most renowned data source for book sales (NPD BookScan) only covers approximately 85% of print trade book sales and only in the U.S.

Book ranks are not representative of cumulative (or historic) sales, but more on how a title has been selling very recently compared to others in the same category.

Many academic books published by large publishers are targeting captive markets, usually libraries from large universities or research centers. Often, they are compilations of chapters by different authors on very specialised topics. High prices may deter individuals from purchasing edited volumes.While  the number of copies sold may be relatively low, the potential audience can be quite large when considering access by library users.

Inappropriate use cases:  Monograph sales are not a direct measure of readership, research quality, or impact.

Available metric sources: Authors can access their sales data via Amazon, figures are provided by NPD BookScan. Additionally, Amazon sales rank data is available from Sales Rank Express. Another provider, NovelRank, was shut down by Amazon in August 2018 on the basis of a breach in their Code of Use. The website will keep historical data available until January 1, 2019.

Transparency:   Book sales data and ranking calculations are often proprietary.  Purchaser data is anonymous.

Website:  N/A

Timeframe: In most cases, historical sales and ranking data is not available, but books of any age may be included.