In the world of book publishing, a customer with a legacy of using HP 3000s is pushing users through a migration. The Nielsen name has long been associated with TV ratings, but that former HP 3000 customer tracks so much more. This month the book sales service BookScan is getting a migration to a new system. The old system was called Nielsen and the new one is NPD's Decison Key. The transfer is expected to have its bumps. Some might have impact who's on this year's bestseller lists.
Publisher's Marketplace reports, "BookScan will complete its transition from the old Nielsen platform to the NPD system and at outset, the biggest adjustment for users may be getting accustomed to system updates on a different day of the week. "
As the story unfolds there's more changes expected. NPD Books president Jonathan Stolper is predicting high integrity. "We're going to get it right," he said in a Publisher's Marketplace article. The Marketplace resells Nielsen data to authors, publishers and booksellers—so the forecast would of course be bright. Many data migrations have had this forecast.
But the data on this Nielsen system, some of which goes back to the HP 3000 era there, has deep roots. From the Marketplace report:
We're talking about millions of titles, a system that goes back to 2004 in detail. There is a ton of data within this system. So it's only natural that there's probably going to be some – I don't want to call them hiccups, but some variances. Whenever you switch systems, there's some slight variance. People are going to have to realize that it's not an absolute match."
Then comes the upshot of the migration. Some books are going to "sell" better than others, depending on the data integrity for this year's sales.
The switchover will increase sales because the newer data collection system reaches into more points of sale. Gift shops and museum stores, for example, are in the new mix.
Those variances mean that some titles will see increased sales for 2018 in the new platform versus legacy BookScan, due to the broader information enabled by NPD, which collects retail point-of-sale data in broad fashion across many industries.
Data migration has been the heartland at MB Foster for the last three decades. Last week the company that made database interfaces for HP 3000s in ODBC/SE hosted a webinar on a concept called the Migration Garage. "A garage can be set up to deal with the end-to-end requirement, the staffing required to make the garage a success, and where the savings come from when a garage process is defined."
It took two years for the BookScan tracking system to migrate to the NPD platform. The NPD system, called Decision Key, will become the data of record for BookScan. The number of titles that have been printed with the word "Bestseller" on the cover probably hasn't been tracked. It's a powerful marketing term, though.
MB Foster's concept of a Migration Garage "is useful when there are a number of applications with the same requirements or that have a common set of data that is changing and similar changes have to be made to each application as it is transformed to its new environment."
Publishing is an industry that often clings to legacy practices, like paying published authors their royalties just twice a year. (Something about needing to count the returned books before the checks for the writers go to the agents, who send the money to the authors.) Nielsen is moving its data to a new vehicle this fall. Just as in every migration, the numbers will speak for themselves.