Data analyst turns sights from music to books

By Leslie Kaufman in New York ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-05-27 07:13:36

Data analyst turns sights from music to books
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In 2009, Alexander S. White, a former Universal Music Group intern, co-founded a company called Next Big Sound that analyzed vast amounts of data about musicians-from Twitter activity to Wikipedia searches to radio appearances-and showed how it affected sales.

"If we can accurately measure where people are spending their time and attention," White says, "we can better forecast where they will spend their money."

Now White and Next Big Sound, which counts much of the recorded music industry as clients, is bringing those analytics to book publishing.

On May 25, the company announced a new division, Next Big Book, and its first publishing-industry partnership, with Macmillan. For eight months, the two companies have worked together to build a tool that will, Macmillan says, "draw sales, publicity, events, social media, web traffic, and web trends data together on a daily basis".

The idea is that the Next Big Book's dashboard, which Macmillan plans to give to its employees and authors over the next few months, allows the publishing company to see what factors-from Facebook posts to book reviews to appearances on NPR's Fresh Air-are most influential on sales.

The publishing industry has been moving toward more data collection and analysis for nearly a decade. Still, the industry's primary data service is Nielsen's BookScan, introduced in 2001, which collects point-of-sale data.

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