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2018 Metadata Tips A to Z
(Short tips taken from our monthly metadata best practices emails.)
Annotations / Descriptions: A description helps a publisher shape their message and connect directly with consumers. This is a
very flexible aspect of metadata where you can provide both long and short descriptions. Many search engines and platforms
will index your descriptions for ‘keywords’ which help enhance discovery of your titles. Actions to consider include adding or
refreshing both long and short descriptions to reflect awards won by the book or author, new titles by the author and current
news that may be relevant to the author or the book’s subject.
Audience: Accurate audience tags can help drive search results of those looking to use or purchase your books. Audience tags
are popular with downstream platforms selling or providing your books to their patrons and you can communicate them in
your data feed to Bowker. Actions to consider include a review to make sure you are assigning accurate audience codes, that
audience codes are on your front & back lists and that you are in fact sending them out in your data feed.
BISAC codes: BISG released the new BISAC list in November 2017. The 2017 edition of the BISAC Subject Headings contains
over 80 new subjects. As usual, there is a healthy representation in the FICTION section (26) that reflect the industry’s
growing need to correctly place books under their specific genre. Many nonfiction subjects were added to pull books out of
more general codes and help make them more discoverable. Fans of technical subjects should not feel left out as four new
subjects were added under “TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING”. Bowker always recommends utilizing the latest version of the
BISAC Subject Headings to take full advantage of their power to help sell your books. Please take time to not only review your
existing titles for deprecated codes, but to also see where you can improve your discoverability by using the new codes.
Contributor Bios (ONIX tag <b044>): Keep the information for all contributors up-to-date. We recommend going back
quarterly to update bios with any information about new works published. This can propel an older title’s sales when linked
with a new work, and vice versa. It’s so important to show potential readers the links to other works; this gives them a frame
of reference when choosing books to purchase. According to BISG, “…the author is the brand that sells the product.” Be sure
that you are using the correct ONIX tag here, <b044> is the tag which will attach your contributor information to the linked bio
field for Bowker. (Using ONIX tag <d104> would load to annotations instead.)
Cover images: Online cover images are like little billboards to help sell your books! At Bowker we accept JPEGs, TIFFs & GIFs
which must be named with the ISBN 9780123456789.jpg and are best delivered via FTP. Important to note that we
recommend you supply an image for every ISBN, even if a print & ebook share the same cover image, a separate image should
be sent for each named by its specific ISBN. Actions to consider include refreshing cover images to include awards won by the
book or author, new titles by the author and relevancy of current events to the author or the title’s subject matter.
Forthcoming as a publishing status: Bowker welcomes metadata 180 days prior to publication date and we regularly see
providers using a “Forthcoming” publishing status. What we also see is that publishers do not always resend the metadata
record after publication date with “Active” publishing status. Please do not assume that data recipients will update your status
for you. Resend your data with a new status throughout its lifecycle.
FTP folders: Please don’t create additional folders within your assigned ftp when uploading files. This could result in files not be-
ing automated and a delay in them being loaded. If you would like a reminder of your ProQuest Ebook Central or Bowker ftp,
username or password; please do let us know. We will be happy to forward them to you.
Keywords: Bowker stores keywords as supplied in ONIX files from publishers. Over the past five years, we have seen an increase
in the number of publishers supplying keywords on their front list titles. For example, in 2014 keywords were submitted in 22% of
new titles via ONIX. In 2018, the number is now up to 38% for new titles.
Open Access: Another project we are working toward is the ability to read Open Access information from ONIX 2.1 and 3.0.
Since Editeur has already published a document on this topic, we are following their recommendations.
ONIX 3.0: When creating ONIX 3.0, it is a great time to take advantage of the new fields that have not been available previously.
Bowker already accepts ONIX 3.0 files if they contain information not available in 2.1. On the ProQuest side, we have identified
fields specifically related to business models that we will include in our ONIX 3.0 build. We encourage you to analyze your own
metadata drivers for ONIX 3.0. For those interested, BISG will be holding a metadata summits for book data providers (July 2018)
and publishers (September 2018) to discuss their metadata needs and the option of moving to ONIX 3.0. You can register on their
website at: www.bisg.org/events.
Series (ONIX tag <b018>): The series name of a specific work belongs in the series field for metadata, not in the title
field. According to BISG best practices, series titles should not be displayed in the title or subtitle field. Moreover, by naming the
individual books within a series correctly, they will be easily discoverable -- discovery equals potential sales. For example, in The
Hunger Games series, the title for Mockingjay is simply that, not The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. Review your series information
and ensure that it is contained within the appropriate metadata field.
Subtitle field: Please don’t include marketing or promotional material in the Subtitle field. There are specific ONIX fields for
promotional and marketing information. Adding the term “Amazon Bestseller” is not appropriate for subtitle fields as it may be
fed to other online and bricks and mortar stores. This could result in them refusing to load the titles in their system. Further
information can be found on the BIC website where a recent press release has also been produced on the best practice of the
Subtitle Field: www.bic.org.uk/155/Press-Releases. (BIC stands for Book Industry Communication group in the UK which is
sponsored by publishers based there.)
Titles (ONIX tag <b203>): The title of a book or work should be uniform across the various item forms that you are producing for
that title. In other words, the print, ebook, and audio book versions of one work should all have the same title. This allows for
title linking which means that when a potential buyer of the title searches for it, he/she will see all the choices available for
purchase. If these titles are different in any way, then all the forms available will not be returned in the search. That’s a lost
opportunity. Refrain from putting anything but the title in this field; this includes volume and edition information.
URLs for cover images: While Bowker asks publishers to supply their cover images directly to our FTP, we also take the
opportunity to review the URLs supplied in ONIX a couple of times a year looking for cover images missing from our
collection. Unfortunately, we identify a lot of unusable links during that process. The biggest issue we see is 404 errors when we
try to review cover image URLs. Please regularly review your URLs especially if you have changed how you are hosting your cover
Validate files: Please ensure your ONIX files (3.0 and 2.1) are valid prior to sending to ProQuest and Bowker. Valid files ensure we
load your content without issues and the discovery of your titles in the market place will be much faster. There are many XML
validation tools online to check the message structure; one we can recommend is XML-Spy. Any non-valid files will be rejected by
our systems and are likely to be sent back for amending.
Note: If you have questions about metadata and best practices as they pertain to ProQuest Ebook Central or Bowker, you can
email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.