The president of Nielsen Book has said an e-book chart will be launched in "a matter of months rather than years". Jonathan Nowell told The Bookseller he was "talking to all the players", but declined to go into specifics.
"We will clearly, as we are in the print book world, be transparent about who is on the panel down the line," he said. "But, for the moment, we have to protect the exposure of the individual panellists."
Nowell said the chart would not be launched "unless it is as comprehensive and robust as we can make it", and stressed the relatively small nature of the e-book market as it is currently. He added: "It is better not to have the information, than have the wrong information."
Nowell declined to comment on what proportion of the sales would have to be represented before a chart could be created, saying the team would be able to identify any issues as testing begins.
He went on to urge publishers to ensure the separate ISBNs were used on digital formats, to ensure they are counted differently to print formats. "Perhaps this is not being taken seriously enough now, but it will be taken seriously if a chart comes out and a major author isn't number one because the publisher hasn't put the right ISBN on the book," he said. "We don't want that to happen."
Nowell added: "Publishers should absolutely be clamouring for an e-book chart – they have a part to play in terms of the ISBNs – and our job is to put out a comprehensive, robust, reliable chart. We will only do that when we are absolutely confident we won't be exposuring any particular retailer's sales, which I think will be a matter of months rather than years."
Publishers have previously called on Nielsen to create a chart for e-books in light of the growing significance of the format, but Nielsen representatives said only that the firm was looking at the possibilities of building one.