In 1960, Billboard began concurrently publishing album charts which ranked sales of older or mid-priced titles.These Essential Inventory charts were divided by stereo and mono albums, and featured titles that had already appeared on the main stereo and mono album charts.A new chart is published the following Tuesday with an issue post-dated to the Saturday of that week, four days later.
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An album needed not have charted on the Billboard 200 at all to qualify for catalog status.
Starting with the issue dated December 5, 2009, however, the catalog limitations which removed albums over 18 months old, that have dropped below position 100 and have no currently-running single, from the Billboard 200 was lifted, turning the chart into an all-inclusive list of the 200 highest-selling albums in the country (essentially changing Top Comprehensive Albums into the Billboard 200).
The chart is based mostly on sales (both at retail and digital) of albums in the United States.
The weekly sales period was originally Monday to Sunday when Nielsen started tracking sales in 1991, but since July 2015, tracking week begins on Friday (to coincide with the Global Release Date of the music industry) and ends on Thursday.
The chart was renamed to Best-Selling Pop Albums later in 1956, and then to Best-Selling Pop LPs in 1957.
Beginning on May 25, 1959, Billboard split the ranking into two charts Best-Selling Stereophonic LPs for stereo albums (30 positions) and Best-Selling Monophonic LPs for mono albums (50 positions).
Its current policy allows holiday albums to concurrently chart on the Top Holiday Albums list and the Billboard 200.
With this overhaul, the Billboard 200 includes on-demand streaming and digital track sales (as measured by Nielsen Sound Scan) by way of a new algorithm, utilizing data from all of the major on-demand audio subscription services including Spotify, Beats Music, Google Play and Xbox Music.
These were renamed to Stereo Action Charts (30 positions) and Mono Action Charts (40 positions) in 1960.