Canada Buys then Canada Reads

Canada Reads is one of my favourite awards of the year. Well, maybe more literary contest than award. Regardless, it has become an amazing phenomenon in Canadian literature.

Unlike the Giller or the Governor General’s Award, Canada Reads often hosts titles that are available in trade paper and some are dangerously close to being (if not already) out of print. It is often a chance for great reads to once again see the light of day.

This week we saw the announcement of the Top 10 books, from which 5 will go on to the debate in February. We thought this was the ideal time to release another research report, this one on the impact of Canada Reads. In short, Canada buys then Canada Reads.

As with all major literary awards, BookNet Canada focuses our efforts on tracking and comparing trends over the past years. For Canada Reads, we concentrated our efforts on the 2011 season and also reviewed the award winners for 2006-2011.

Here are a few of our findings of the 2011 Canada Reads:

• Post-winner announcement sales for all nominated titles were an average of four times the pre-announcement sales.

• Sales remained fairly consistent for all nominees during the period after Christmas until the debate week in February.

• When reviewing the debate week, the percent of market share was compared with a baseline market share from five weeks earlier to calculate the shift each title saw during debate week. What we found was not only a correlation between rank and market share but also popularity. For last year, we found that market share increased by the order that the titles were voted out of the contest. What does this tell us? Debate week has a major impact on sales for all nominees, but most of the time nominees who are voted off earlier in the week see less of an impact than those who make it to the last day of debate.

• For the winning title, debate week sales were almost eight times higher than earlier weeks, and a prolonged spike occurred in the weeks following the winner announcement.

• Sales of nominated titles spike during the debate week and then return to pre-debate sales levels quickly. But the winning title sales continue to rise through the week following the announcement and stay at comparable levels for weeks to come.

• Retailers take notice of the impact of this competition, and are skilled at predicting demand, managing stock, and placing appropriate orders one to three weeks before debate week and the winner announcement.

For more detail, log in and read the research.

SalesData subscribers are able to see a full report with week-by-week performance. This report can be accessed through the home page of BNC SalesData or log in to the document repository with the SalesData password.

eNews subscribers have access to a redacted version of the report which outlines the trends but doesn’t include volume sales figures. Your log in info is in every issue and in your welcome email. If you are interested in becoming a BookNet Canada eNews subscriber it’s free—just sign up!

Finally, visit the Canada Reads catalogue on CataList for a full title list and descriptions.