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WSJ best-seller lists to include e-books

By Hillel Italie
AP National Writer / October 28, 2011

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NEW YORK—The Wall Street Journal has an agreement with Nielsen BookScan to publish best-seller lists that include both physical books and e-sales.

Since 2009, Nielsen has provided the journal with lists based solely on hardcover and paperbacks. The Journal and Nielsen announced Friday that four charts will debut this weekend: combined e-book and physical sales for fiction and nonfiction, and e-sales only for fiction and nonfiction. Eligible releases will include self-published books, children's books and "perennials," older works that continue to sell strongly.

It's the first time that Nielsen has compiled e-books, with Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Apple and Google among those participating. BookScan numbers reflect around 75 percent of hardcover and paperback sales and offer a rare look at raw data from an industry known for being secretive about how much books actually sell. But the Nielsen statistics became increasingly limited as e-sales took off.

"As consumers and booksellers continue to embrace the potential of e-books, we are very happy to be working with The Wall Street Journal to produce the most accurate best-seller charts available," Jonathan Stolper, vice president & general manager of Nielsen BookScan, said in a statement. "These new charts uniquely reflect what people are really buying and reading and will most definitely advance the industry's understanding of e-book best sellers."

But the industry, and the public, will have to wait before seeing actual Nielsen numbers under the new system. The lists will feature only rankings, not copies sold. And the data will be available exclusively to the Journal.

The New York Times and USA Today also include e-sales in their weekly lists.