Good data aids the discovery and purchase, distribution and sales measurement of books and there are companies that develop and manage systems.
Nielsen BookData UK. Every book has an individual reference number called an ISBN (short for International Standard Book Number) which allows it to be identified and tracked. Nielsen deals with ISBNs in the UK and the Nielsen website has all you need to know about them. Nielsen is also the company that collates sales information and provides the top seller and other book charts you see in the media.
BDS (based in Dumfries) delivers metadata to the library sector, industry bodies, charities and the book trade.
BIC is the book industry’s independent supply chain organisation and the efficient use of e-commerce is at the heart of all its activity.
Public Lending Right (PLR) provides published authors, illustrators and other contributors with an easy route to register for UK and Irish PLR. PLR is a legal right to payment from government in both countries each time their books are borrowed from public libraries.
Publishers (especially the sales people) also use, collect and analyse a lot of data themselves. It can help them to know where a book sold best, whether a campaign translated into sales, identifying markets and so much more.