Barnes & Noble Has No Imminent Plans to Share More Data With Publishers

By Jeremy Greenfield, Editorial Director, Digital Book World, @JDGsaid

Despite what you may have hoped, Barnes & Noble won’t be launching an online dashboard for publishers displaying e-reading stats any time soon.

Barnes & Noble has no imminent plans to share more information with publishers about readers’ habits in a systemic way, said Barnes & Noble vice president of e-books Jim Hilt.

At the Digital Book World conference in January, Hilt piqued publishers’ interest when he repeatedly said during a 20-minute address to the audience of 1,600 that Barnes & Noble would be sharing more reader information with publishers.

At the time, Hilt offered no details on how Barnes & Noble will share data, what kind of data it will share, when and with whom, he said, “the transformation and rapid growth in our digital book industry will only happen when authors, retailers and publishers will become more transparent about the data they use…we will all collectively sell more great books we love, every day, all the time.”

When pressed for details last night at a Columbia Business School panel about the future of e-books, Hilt said that the company as yet had no specific plans to share more data with publishers.

“We already share information informally with publishers about readers,” said Hilt, citing personal meetings with publishers at their offices.

Barnes & Noble’s pronouncement was welcome news to publishers and publishing industry executives in the room. Digital reader information has long been coveted by publishers – and long-held close by online retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Sharing of reader data between retailers and publishers may be closer to reality because of new technology. The EPUB 3 publishing language, for instance, allows for JavaScript to be embedded in e-books, which would theoretically allow publishers to track their readers’ reading habits – if only retailers would allow that code in the books it sells and build e-reader software capable of supporting such technology.

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