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Data Guy Unmasked on LinkedIn as Bookstat CEO Paul Abbassi

For the past few years one of the most widely known "secrets" was the identity of Data Guy, the pseudonymous creator of the Author Earnings Reports (at right).

Many people in book publishing knew the name of the person who had upended the book publishing industry with his market analytics reports (including the companies which had hired him as a consultant), and thousands of people who listened to him speak at conferences knew him on sight.

But in spite of the fact that many people knew his name, and in spite of the fact that he  had built the Author Earnings Report into a market analytics startup called Bookstat.com, no one has ever publicly connected the Data Guy pseudonym with the person behind it.

Until today.

According to his LinkedIn profile, the CEO of Bookstat, the company founded by Data Guy, is a former gaming exec by the name of Paul Abbassi.

Edit: Just so you know, I didn’t actually know Paul’s name until this morning. I was not in on the secret, so I had nothing to betray.

Formerly the CTO at Digital Chocolate and the VP of Data Analytics at MaxPlay, Abbassi has two Master’s Degrees in electrical engineering, as well as a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Berkeley.

He has a decade of experience in running gaming companies, and then in 2012 he turned his attention toward book publishing. According to his profile his various projects include Booklead.com, a now defunct deals site, an unnamed company that aggregated book reviews, and then there’s this entry:

Pseudonymous cofounder and chief data scientist for the trade publishing industry’s preeminent independent data-reporting and author advocacy watchdog group. Coauthor of popular industry reports that track shifts in publishing market share by using a scalable cloud of custom-coded web spiders to scrape the public sales rankings of millions of individual titles at the largest online bookstores in real time.

While I do not have explicit confirmation that Paul Abbassi is Data Guy, that description is specific enough for me to safely say that I found the right guy. Furthermore, Abbassi 's profile photo bears a striking resemblance to the person I met as Data Guy at DBW 2015 (shown above).

I have queried several sources, including Data Guy, for confirmation, and no one responded at the time I published this post. If you can confirm his identity, please leave a comment below.

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Comments


Bill Peschel 25 October, 2018 um 12:27 pm

He gave a presentation at the Nebulas, and it looks exactly like him.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdXU2V_Wr48

Nate Hoffelder 25 October, 2018 um 12:56 pm

Thanks! I didn’t have the video!


Hut 25 October, 2018 um 12:42 pm

This totally makes sense, as Digital Chocolate was run by EA founder Trip Hawkins. He was known for his intense reliance on competitive analysis. Paul may have built the spider-crawlers to data mine the then (approx. 2013-2014) just exploding growth of the Apple AppStore.

Nate Hoffelder 25 October, 2018 um 1:10 pm

I think DG did mention to me at DBW 2015 that he first did the spidering in his day job at the gaming company, yes.


Chris Syme 25 October, 2018 um 12:57 pm

Nice sleuthing.

Nate Hoffelder 25 October, 2018 um 1:08 pm

Well, all I did was search for "Bookstat" on LinkedIn. The amazing part is that it took this long for someone to do the search.


Mark Williams – The New Publishing Standard 25 October, 2018 um 1:38 pm

Supposedly Data Guy himself revealed his true identity at DBW 2018.

The advance promo for DBW 2018 ran,

"Data Guy, the controversial publishing industry analyst, to reveal identity & return fire during DBW ’18 closing keynote.

"Data Guy," the long anonymous publishing industry analyst, will reveal his actual identity on stage at Digital Book World 2018, while also unveiling Bookstat – the data-driven service which has the potential to solve the longstanding industry problem of insufficient, incomplete real-time sales data."

I’ve since found absolutely zero coverage of that speech, if it happened.

But the keynote speech slideshow is on the Author Earnings site, and I’ll be taking that apart over at The New Publishing Standard in a post to go live in the next hour.

As ever, the BookStat numbers simply don’t add up, and as DG has also rewritten the historic AE numbers it seems the size of the US ebook market is whatever Data Guy decides it is this week.. Either that or the US ebook market doubled in 2018. 🙂

Nate Hoffelder 25 October, 2018 um 1:46 pm

I couldn’t find any evidence of that either.

Lena 12 April, 2019 um 11:09 am

They never posted videos of the talk, but I was there, this is him.

Nate Hoffelder 12 April, 2019 um 12:55 pm

Oh, I forgot to follow up on this but he didn’t follow through. DG was supposed t reveal his identity, but this detail was not mentioned in his speech (or so I was told by someone who was there).


DaveMich 25 October, 2018 um 2:48 pm

The real question at this point is, why the aura of mystery? Most people don’t run their company or professional life under a nom-de-plume.

Nate Hoffelder 25 October, 2018 um 3:01 pm

Well, there was a time when DG was controversial, and it may have made some sense back then. But that stopped being true well over a year ago.

Mark Williams – The New Publishing Standard 25 October, 2018 um 4:19 pm

I’d say DG is more controversial than ever. Just that mere mortals can;t afford the access to all the BookStat data.

But as per the latest TNPS post, when we do see some numbers they appear to made on the fly, he rewrites historical data to suit whatever the latest numbers are, and the numbers just aren’t credible.

Who but Data Guy could manage to count the world’s most famous author JK Rowling twice and not notice?

https://thenewpublishingstandard.com/ebook-sales-doubled-us-2018-according-data-guys-nonsensical-bookstat-numbers/


Bill Peschel 25 October, 2018 um 3:03 pm

I would also suspect no one outside the book industry really cared. Outside the industry, no one knew who DG was, and now that we know, it’s not remarkable. Now, if he was Jeff Bezos or Thomas Pynchon…..


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