We all know books are categorized into different genres. There is an official committee that essentially helps publishers categorize their titles. It’s called the Book Industry Study Group, and it creates, activates, and deactivates the current BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications) codes. These are exactly what they say they are: codes that define industry standards.
It’s no small wonder that the words “metadata management” can be overwhelming to anyone unfamiliar with what exactly that job entails; this is especially true in the publishing world, where all we want to do is help people tell their stories and get those stories into the hands of readers who will love them as much as we do. We love bookshops, and shelves upon shelves of beautiful covers and clever titles, and perusing Powell’s and reading their “Staff Picks” at our leisure. But we also have to be realistic: a growing majority of today’s readers just don’t have time to browse indie bookshops on a regular basis for their next epic tale, memoir, or anthology. Today’s audience does much of their browsing (gasp) ONLINE.
Metadata is the language we use to describe products when we are unable to have these products at hand.
The scene opens on a classroom. The students’ eyes are glazed over from the glow of the computer screens, half of them open to D2L, the other to some Instagrammer’s latest post. The professor asks the question, “What is metadata?” and one person, with a fox-like grin on their face, raises their hand and calls out, “It’s data about data.” Everyone breaks out in applause, confetti rains from the ceiling and cupcakes are served. This has happened to me more times than I can count, and yes, a quick hand raise asking for clarification could have solved all my problems but then I wouldn’t have had a blog post idea. So come with me as we take a journey on self-education and find out what all the fuss is about metadata and why you should actually care about it.
This is the tenth post in Joe Biel’s ongoing Business of Publishing series. Today’s edition is a deeper focus into title development, so if you haven’t read the previous post already, take a look—it’s perhaps the most important part of being a successful publisher. Due to the four thousand new books being published every day, […]