Nielsen BookData Opens BookScan Tracking in Colombia

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Amid calls for better and more comparable data among publishing markets, Nielsen’s BookData makes a timely expansion in Colombia.

On the metro in Medellín. Image – Getty iStockphoto: David Bautista

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Ossa: ‘Decision-Making on a More Accurate Basis’
Even as International Publishers Association (IPA) president Karine Pansa positions publishing data—and coherently comparable metrics between international book markets—Nielsen BookData in London has announced today (February 14) that it will expand its BookScan tracking service to Colombia.

This will come as especially good news to those following the Latin American markets, often without the benefit of the sort of data and analysis that’s more common in European, North American, and some Asian markets. In fact, there are at least two more markets “in the pipeline,” as the company puts it, from the Spanish-language Latin American markets for activation in the future: Argentina and Chile.  This promises a welcome deepening of observation and insight in the region.

Currently the company reports that its Colombian panel represents 70-percent market coverage, but the aim will be to increase that share for greater accuracy over time. (Established territories such as the United Kingdom and Australia have reached 90-percent market share.)

The development of the new service has been supported by the Colombian Book Chamber and with strong commitment from the market’s booksellers.

Colombia’s new service—Nielsen says it’s been several years in the making—brings to 12 the number of territories in which the company’s BookScan operations are working:

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Poland,
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom
Aristizábal: ‘Essential for Publishers and Bookstores’

From left are Emiro Aristizábal, Andrés Ossa, and David Peman

Having originally opened its work in Colombia in 2019, the BookScan project there was slowed, of course, during the earlier stages of the still-ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. A first test bestseller list was compiled toward the end of 2021. During 2022, monthly bestseller lists and core market figures were fine-tuned, producing an end-of-year Top 20 which has been well received by the Colombian book industry. (The 2022 Top 10 list from Colombia is below.)

“One of the major weaknesses of the Latin American publishing industries is the lack of systematic data on production and sales. Data is a must for any industry, and book publishing should no longer consider itself an exception.”Andrés Ossa, Cerlalc

Historical data began to be made available to the Colombian market from January 1 of this year.

The new consumer market panel in Colombia collects pointofsale data from the EPOS systems—electronic points of sale—of participating supermarkets, department stores, and bookstore chains as well as from independent booksellers in Colombia.

In a prepared comment, Emiro Aristizábal, executive president at Colombia’s chamber, is quoted, saying, “This new service, essential for publishers and bookstores, is the result of a collaboration between the Colombian Book Chamber and Nielsen BookData.

“We have worked shoulder-to-shoulder to provide this new service to book-related companies in Colombia.”

Andrés Ossa, the director of Cerlalc—the Regional Center for the Promotion of Books in Latin America and the Caribbean—says, “One of the major weaknesses of the Latin American publishing industries is the lack of systematic data on production and sales.

“Nowadays, data is a must for any industry, and book publishing should no longer consider itself an exception.

“Although there’s a lot of intuition in this field, decision-making on a more accurate basis will contribute to strengthening the Latin-American publishing sectors.”

David Peman, territory manager at Nielsen BookData, says, “We are delighted to be able to provide objective market data practically in real time to booksellers, distributors, and publishers for them to use to inform and make better business decisions.

“I’d personally thank the CCL for their dedicated support and all the bookshops who put their faith in us.”

The BookScan data in the 11 previously operative territories is used not only by various news media and key industry bodies to measure the state of book markets but also by publishers and booksellers, who use the input to inform their business decisions, of course. It can be expected that this trend will quickly be seen in Colombia, as well.

Nielsen’s Top 10 Bestsellers in Colombia in 2022

At a bookstore in Cartagena. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Luis Paez

Nielsen’s new Colombian service has produced this list for our coverage today:

  • El Club de las 5 de la mañana by Robin Sharma (Editorial: Grijalbo)
  • Leer es resistir by Mario Mendoza (Editorial: Planeta)
  • Violeta by Isabel Allende (Editorial: Plaza & Janés)
  • Hábitos atómicos by James Clear (Editorial: Planeta)
  • El poder del ahora by Eckhart Tolle (Editorial: Grijalbo)
  • Como by Carlos Jaramillo (Editorial: Planeta)
  • El milagro metabólico by Carlos Alberto Jaramillo (Editorial: Planeta)
  • Cómo hacer que te pasen cosas buenas by Marián Rojas (Editorial: Planeta)
  • El infinito en un junco by Irene Vallejo (Editorial: Debolsillo)
  • Los cuatro acuerdos by Miguel Ruiz (Editorial: Urano)

See also: IPA’s Karine Pansa at DBW: ‘A Big Wake-Up Call’ in Book Business Data

At the Bogota International Book Fair (FILbo), 2019. Image: Colombian Book Chamber

More from Publishing Perspectives on book publishing industry statistics is here, more on Nielsen and its work in book-publishing data is here, more on the Colombian market is here, more on the Latin American book business and markets is here, and from Publishing Perspectives on the work of the International Publishers Association is here. More from us on the still-ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic—which factored into a delay in getting Nielsen’s BookData services into place in Colombia—is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the world media partner of the International Publishers Association.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.