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Improving Subject Coding
Presented By
Michael Olenick
Agenda
• Why Subjects?
• Why Keywords?
• Subjects vs. Keywords
• What Are BISAC Subjects?
• Advice for BISAC Coding
• Samples
• Where Can I Learn More?
1
11K Searches
Books In Print®
2
Why Subjects?
• Uniformity of usage
• One place for all books on topic
• Specificity depends on the list
• Grouping data together for
– Analytical purposes
– Data retrieval
– Shelving
3
The Goal
Assign the most specific non-redundant subject(s)
from the list you are using.
BISAC
• ART016000 ART / Individual Artists / General
• ART015080 ART / History / Renaissance
• ARC016000 ARCHITECTURE / Buildings / Religious
Library of Congress
• Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1475-1564--Criticism and interpretation.
• Cappella Sistina (Vatican Palace, Vatican City)
• Bible. Old Testament--Illustrations.
• Mural painting and decoration, Italian--Vatican City.
• Mural painting and decoration, Renaissance--Vatican City.
4
Why Keywords?
• Immediate access
• No need for a book to be manually classified
• Keywords are ”free” if derived from title, description,
reviews, full text, etc.
• No need to know the specific phrasing and rules for a
subject list
5
User Preferences
• How tolerant are people for wading through a lot of
results?
• People are “Googlized”
• You only get the books you want with subjects…you get
more results with keywords
• Subjects feel valuable…but sometimes it is hard to
monetize this and subjects “cost” more
6
Keyword – 1307 Results on “mantle”
7
Using Link on the Subject
8
Gets 57 Results on That Subject
9
Subjects vs. Keywords
10
Subjects Keywords
fewer results more results
higher match to relevant titles includes false hits
could assign incorrect subjects even if false hit, the keyword is in the
metadata so it’s never “wrong”
better for conveying genre
fiction information
easy to identify characters and
places within the work
some headings are not intuitive no need to cross reference or know
particular terminology
meets needs of resellers &
discovery engines (shelf
classification & website
organization)
meets needs of end user searching in
small text snippets
What Are BISAC Subjects?
• North American book industry standard for subject
classification
• Maintained by the BISAC Subject Committee of BISG with
new edition issued annually in the Fall
• BISG offers training on subjects and other topics via webcasts
and sponsored events
• 3946 codes/subjects grouped under 52 main sections
• The subject list is available on the BISG site
– No cost for lookup purposes
– Licensing the list allows you to download versions in Excel,
PDF and Word for unlimited use in internal systems
11
What Are BISAC Subjects?
• Codes are three letters followed by six numbers
• “Dumb” codes except that:
– First three characters reflect the section
– First code in each section ends with 000000
• Subjects are hierarchical based on text
• Literal is the section name followed by one or more
subheadings separated by /
• Usage notes, edition differences, inactivated codes
• Merchandising Themes & Regional Themes
• Not as specific as LC subjects but this allows for statistically
significant groupings
12
BISAC Subjects
ARC000000 ARCHITECTURE / General
ARC022000 ARCHITECTURE / Adaptive Reuse & Renovation
ARC023000 ARCHITECTURE / Annuals
ARC024000 ARCHITECTURE / Buildings / General
ARC024010 ARCHITECTURE / Buildings / Landmarks & Monuments
ARC011000 ARCHITECTURE / Buildings / Public, Commercial & Industrial
ARC016000 ARCHITECTURE / Buildings / Religious
ARC003000 ARCHITECTURE / Buildings / Residential
ARCHITECTURE / CAD (Computer Aided Design) see Design,
Drafting, Drawing & Presentation
ARC019000 ARCHITECTURE / Codes & Standards
ARC001000 ARCHITECTURE / Criticism
ARC002000 ARCHITECTURE / Decoration & Ornament
ARC004000 ARCHITECTURE / Design, Drafting, Drawing & Presentation
ARCHITECTURE / Feng Shui see BODY, MIND & SPIRIT / Feng Shui
13
Merchandising Themes [non-consecutive samples]
ET010 CULTURAL HERITAGE / African
ET020 CULTURAL HERITAGE / African American
ET022 CULTURAL HERITAGE / Asian / General
ET040 CULTURAL HERITAGE / Asian / Chinese
ET110 CULTURAL HERITAGE / Asian / Japanese
ET130 CULTURAL HERITAGE / Asian / Korean
ET220 CULTURAL HERITAGE / Asian / Vietnamese
EV010 EVENT / Anniversary
EV020 EVENT / Back to School
EV030 EVENT / Baptism
HL005 HOLIDAY / Chinese New Year
HL010 HOLIDAY / Christmas
TP020 TOPICAL / Black History
TP024 TOPICAL / Blank Books, Journals
TP026 TOPICAL / Boy's Interest
14
Regional Themes
Code Level Region
1.0.0.0.0.0.0 LEVEL_1 Europe
1.1.0.0.0.0.0 LEVEL_2 British Isles
1.1.1.0.0.0.0 LEVEL_3 Ireland
1.1.1.0.0.1.0 LEVEL_6 Dublin
1.1.2.0.0.0.0 LEVEL_3 United Kingdom, Great Britain
1.1.2.1.0.0.0 LEVEL_4 Channel Islands
1.1.2.2.0.0.0 LEVEL_4 England
1.1.2.2.0.1.0 LEVEL_6 London
1.1.2.2.0.2.0 LEVEL_6 Manchester
1.1.2.3.0.0.0 LEVEL_4 Isle of Man
1.1.2.4.0.0.0 LEVEL_4 Northern Ireland
1.1.2.5.0.0.0 LEVEL_4 Scotland
1.1.2.5.0.1.0 LEVEL_6 Edinburgh
15
Other Schemas
• BIC – roughly the UK equivalent of BISAC maintained by
Book Industry Communication
http://www.bic.org.uk/7/BIC-Standard-Subject-
Categories/
• Thema – roughly an internationalized version of BIC
maintained via a global steering committee under
EDItEUR– not officially a replacement for BIC but if the
uptake is strong, it effectively will be (but not a
replacement for BISAC) – recently introduced
http://www.editeur.org/151/thema/
16
Statistics for 2013 Publications
• 1.66 million ISBNs received (USA print & ebooks)
• 1.27 million had BISAC code provided by publisher
• 1.25 codes per title
• 742K contained a general code
– 674K only contained a general code
• 2,502 contained NON000000
– 2,331 were only assigned NON000000
• 4,326 contained a code that is now inactive
• 13K had miscellaneous bad stuff (NA, 8-character
codes, spaces, text instead of codes, etc.)
17
What Publishers Should Provide
• At least 1 valid active code
• Most specific code(s) applicable
• Up to 3 codes (if appropriate)
• > 3 codes only for rare cases where it is necessary to
convey the multidisciplinary aspect of a work
• All formats & editions should have same codes
(assuming same content)
• There is “wrong”, there is “could be better”, and there is
“depends on your preference”
18
Additional Tips
• Check the latest version for newly added codes
• Use data to help you subject code
– Descriptions
– Table of Contents
• Match subject codes to other metadata fields
– Age
– Grade
– Audience
– Reading Level
– Keyword
– Themes
19
User Advisories
• Duplicate codes
• Inactive codes
• NON000000 NON-CLASSIFIABLE
• General codes only
• General codes along with more specific codes
• Mixing codes
– Fiction & nonfiction
– Adult & juvenile
20
How Many Subjects Does an ISBN Need?
• No correct number
• Do not have to force multiple codes
• But new information is valuable
• Primary code first
21
Samples from Publisher Data
• Good – several MED, SOC and PSY subjects
• New subject could be added – PSY045070
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Cognitive Behavioral
Therapy (CBT)
22
Samples from Publisher Data
• Good - JUV043000 JUVENILE FICTION / Readers /
Beginner
• But add also - JUV002200 JUVENILE FICTION /
Animals / Pigs
23
Samples from Publisher Data
• Good - TRV010000 TRAVEL / Essays & Travelogues
and TRV001000 TRAVEL / Special Interest / Adventure
• Not Needed - TRV000000 TRAVEL / General
24
Samples from Publisher Data
• Only code assigned was inactivated in 2001 -
SEL022000 SELF-HELP / Recovery
25
Samples from Publisher Data
• Could be better - FIC032000
FICTION / War & Military
• Inactivated & incorrect -
FAM019000 FAMILY &
RELATIONSHIPS / Family
Relationships
26
Samples from Publisher Data
• First subject better as second - JNF048000 JUVENILE
NONFICTION / Reference / General
• Second subject better as first - JNF051050 JUVENILE
NONFICTION / Science & Nature / Biology
27
Samples from Publisher Data
• Correct - FIC019000 FICTION /
Literary
• Correctish - ART016010 ART /
Individual Artists / Artists' Books
28
29
Where Can I Learn More?
• Latest Version of BISAC Subjects
https://www.bisg.org/complete-bisac-subject-headings-
2013-edition
• FAQ for BISAC Subjects
https://www.bisg.org/tutorial-and-faq
• BISG Best Practices for Product Metadata
https://www.bisg.org/publications/best-practices-
product-metadata
• BISG Best Practices for Keywords in Metadata
https://www.bisg.org/best-practices-keywords-metadata
29
How Can I Participate in BISG?
• If your company is a member of BISG, you can
participate in committee meetings (including the BISAC
Subject Committee).
• https://www.bisg.org/committees-working-groups lists all
the committees and working groups.
• However, even if you are not a member you can e-mail
suggestions through the BISG site.
30
31
michael.olenick@bowker.com
About Bowker
Bowker is the world’s leading provider of bibliographic
information and management solutions designed to help
publishers, booksellers, and libraries better serve their
customers. Creators of products and services that make
books easier for people to discover, evaluate, order, and
experience, the company also generates research and
resources for publishers, helping them understand and
meet the interests of readers worldwide. Bowker, a
ProQuest affiliate, is the official ISBN Agency for the United
States and its territories and is headquartered in New
Providence, New Jersey with additional operations in
England and Australia.

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Improving Subject Coding

  • 2. Agenda • Why Subjects? • Why Keywords? • Subjects vs. Keywords • What Are BISAC Subjects? • Advice for BISAC Coding • Samples • Where Can I Learn More? 1
  • 4. Why Subjects? • Uniformity of usage • One place for all books on topic • Specificity depends on the list • Grouping data together for – Analytical purposes – Data retrieval – Shelving 3
  • 5. The Goal Assign the most specific non-redundant subject(s) from the list you are using. BISAC • ART016000 ART / Individual Artists / General • ART015080 ART / History / Renaissance • ARC016000 ARCHITECTURE / Buildings / Religious Library of Congress • Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1475-1564--Criticism and interpretation. • Cappella Sistina (Vatican Palace, Vatican City) • Bible. Old Testament--Illustrations. • Mural painting and decoration, Italian--Vatican City. • Mural painting and decoration, Renaissance--Vatican City. 4
  • 6. Why Keywords? • Immediate access • No need for a book to be manually classified • Keywords are ”free” if derived from title, description, reviews, full text, etc. • No need to know the specific phrasing and rules for a subject list 5
  • 7. User Preferences • How tolerant are people for wading through a lot of results? • People are “Googlized” • You only get the books you want with subjects…you get more results with keywords • Subjects feel valuable…but sometimes it is hard to monetize this and subjects “cost” more 6
  • 8. Keyword – 1307 Results on “mantle” 7
  • 9. Using Link on the Subject 8
  • 10. Gets 57 Results on That Subject 9
  • 11. Subjects vs. Keywords 10 Subjects Keywords fewer results more results higher match to relevant titles includes false hits could assign incorrect subjects even if false hit, the keyword is in the metadata so it’s never “wrong” better for conveying genre fiction information easy to identify characters and places within the work some headings are not intuitive no need to cross reference or know particular terminology meets needs of resellers & discovery engines (shelf classification & website organization) meets needs of end user searching in small text snippets
  • 12. What Are BISAC Subjects? • North American book industry standard for subject classification • Maintained by the BISAC Subject Committee of BISG with new edition issued annually in the Fall • BISG offers training on subjects and other topics via webcasts and sponsored events • 3946 codes/subjects grouped under 52 main sections • The subject list is available on the BISG site – No cost for lookup purposes – Licensing the list allows you to download versions in Excel, PDF and Word for unlimited use in internal systems 11
  • 13. What Are BISAC Subjects? • Codes are three letters followed by six numbers • “Dumb” codes except that: – First three characters reflect the section – First code in each section ends with 000000 • Subjects are hierarchical based on text • Literal is the section name followed by one or more subheadings separated by / • Usage notes, edition differences, inactivated codes • Merchandising Themes & Regional Themes • Not as specific as LC subjects but this allows for statistically significant groupings 12
  • 14. BISAC Subjects ARC000000 ARCHITECTURE / General ARC022000 ARCHITECTURE / Adaptive Reuse & Renovation ARC023000 ARCHITECTURE / Annuals ARC024000 ARCHITECTURE / Buildings / General ARC024010 ARCHITECTURE / Buildings / Landmarks & Monuments ARC011000 ARCHITECTURE / Buildings / Public, Commercial & Industrial ARC016000 ARCHITECTURE / Buildings / Religious ARC003000 ARCHITECTURE / Buildings / Residential ARCHITECTURE / CAD (Computer Aided Design) see Design, Drafting, Drawing & Presentation ARC019000 ARCHITECTURE / Codes & Standards ARC001000 ARCHITECTURE / Criticism ARC002000 ARCHITECTURE / Decoration & Ornament ARC004000 ARCHITECTURE / Design, Drafting, Drawing & Presentation ARCHITECTURE / Feng Shui see BODY, MIND & SPIRIT / Feng Shui 13
  • 15. Merchandising Themes [non-consecutive samples] ET010 CULTURAL HERITAGE / African ET020 CULTURAL HERITAGE / African American ET022 CULTURAL HERITAGE / Asian / General ET040 CULTURAL HERITAGE / Asian / Chinese ET110 CULTURAL HERITAGE / Asian / Japanese ET130 CULTURAL HERITAGE / Asian / Korean ET220 CULTURAL HERITAGE / Asian / Vietnamese EV010 EVENT / Anniversary EV020 EVENT / Back to School EV030 EVENT / Baptism HL005 HOLIDAY / Chinese New Year HL010 HOLIDAY / Christmas TP020 TOPICAL / Black History TP024 TOPICAL / Blank Books, Journals TP026 TOPICAL / Boy's Interest 14
  • 16. Regional Themes Code Level Region 1.0.0.0.0.0.0 LEVEL_1 Europe 1.1.0.0.0.0.0 LEVEL_2 British Isles 1.1.1.0.0.0.0 LEVEL_3 Ireland 1.1.1.0.0.1.0 LEVEL_6 Dublin 1.1.2.0.0.0.0 LEVEL_3 United Kingdom, Great Britain 1.1.2.1.0.0.0 LEVEL_4 Channel Islands 1.1.2.2.0.0.0 LEVEL_4 England 1.1.2.2.0.1.0 LEVEL_6 London 1.1.2.2.0.2.0 LEVEL_6 Manchester 1.1.2.3.0.0.0 LEVEL_4 Isle of Man 1.1.2.4.0.0.0 LEVEL_4 Northern Ireland 1.1.2.5.0.0.0 LEVEL_4 Scotland 1.1.2.5.0.1.0 LEVEL_6 Edinburgh 15
  • 17. Other Schemas • BIC – roughly the UK equivalent of BISAC maintained by Book Industry Communication http://www.bic.org.uk/7/BIC-Standard-Subject- Categories/ • Thema – roughly an internationalized version of BIC maintained via a global steering committee under EDItEUR– not officially a replacement for BIC but if the uptake is strong, it effectively will be (but not a replacement for BISAC) – recently introduced http://www.editeur.org/151/thema/ 16
  • 18. Statistics for 2013 Publications • 1.66 million ISBNs received (USA print & ebooks) • 1.27 million had BISAC code provided by publisher • 1.25 codes per title • 742K contained a general code – 674K only contained a general code • 2,502 contained NON000000 – 2,331 were only assigned NON000000 • 4,326 contained a code that is now inactive • 13K had miscellaneous bad stuff (NA, 8-character codes, spaces, text instead of codes, etc.) 17
  • 19. What Publishers Should Provide • At least 1 valid active code • Most specific code(s) applicable • Up to 3 codes (if appropriate) • > 3 codes only for rare cases where it is necessary to convey the multidisciplinary aspect of a work • All formats & editions should have same codes (assuming same content) • There is “wrong”, there is “could be better”, and there is “depends on your preference” 18
  • 20. Additional Tips • Check the latest version for newly added codes • Use data to help you subject code – Descriptions – Table of Contents • Match subject codes to other metadata fields – Age – Grade – Audience – Reading Level – Keyword – Themes 19
  • 21. User Advisories • Duplicate codes • Inactive codes • NON000000 NON-CLASSIFIABLE • General codes only • General codes along with more specific codes • Mixing codes – Fiction & nonfiction – Adult & juvenile 20
  • 22. How Many Subjects Does an ISBN Need? • No correct number • Do not have to force multiple codes • But new information is valuable • Primary code first 21
  • 23. Samples from Publisher Data • Good – several MED, SOC and PSY subjects • New subject could be added – PSY045070 PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) 22
  • 24. Samples from Publisher Data • Good - JUV043000 JUVENILE FICTION / Readers / Beginner • But add also - JUV002200 JUVENILE FICTION / Animals / Pigs 23
  • 25. Samples from Publisher Data • Good - TRV010000 TRAVEL / Essays & Travelogues and TRV001000 TRAVEL / Special Interest / Adventure • Not Needed - TRV000000 TRAVEL / General 24
  • 26. Samples from Publisher Data • Only code assigned was inactivated in 2001 - SEL022000 SELF-HELP / Recovery 25
  • 27. Samples from Publisher Data • Could be better - FIC032000 FICTION / War & Military • Inactivated & incorrect - FAM019000 FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS / Family Relationships 26
  • 28. Samples from Publisher Data • First subject better as second - JNF048000 JUVENILE NONFICTION / Reference / General • Second subject better as first - JNF051050 JUVENILE NONFICTION / Science & Nature / Biology 27
  • 29. Samples from Publisher Data • Correct - FIC019000 FICTION / Literary • Correctish - ART016010 ART / Individual Artists / Artists' Books 28
  • 30. 29 Where Can I Learn More? • Latest Version of BISAC Subjects https://www.bisg.org/complete-bisac-subject-headings- 2013-edition • FAQ for BISAC Subjects https://www.bisg.org/tutorial-and-faq • BISG Best Practices for Product Metadata https://www.bisg.org/publications/best-practices- product-metadata • BISG Best Practices for Keywords in Metadata https://www.bisg.org/best-practices-keywords-metadata 29
  • 31. How Can I Participate in BISG? • If your company is a member of BISG, you can participate in committee meetings (including the BISAC Subject Committee). • https://www.bisg.org/committees-working-groups lists all the committees and working groups. • However, even if you are not a member you can e-mail suggestions through the BISG site. 30
  • 33. About Bowker Bowker is the world’s leading provider of bibliographic information and management solutions designed to help publishers, booksellers, and libraries better serve their customers. Creators of products and services that make books easier for people to discover, evaluate, order, and experience, the company also generates research and resources for publishers, helping them understand and meet the interests of readers worldwide. Bowker, a ProQuest affiliate, is the official ISBN Agency for the United States and its territories and is headquartered in New Providence, New Jersey with additional operations in England and Australia.

Editor's Notes

  1. Codes are three letters followed by six numbers The codes are “dumb” in that they don’t really convey any information except for the fact that the first three characters reflect the section and the first code in each section ends with 000000 and has the subheading General (except the standalone code NON000000). This is because codes persist even if the text is changed (unless a subject is moved to another section…in which case one code is inactivated and a new one is added). Subjects are hierarchical based on the text (we’ll see a sample page next). Literal is the section name followed by one or more subheadings separated by / The full BISAC document contains both general and specific usage notes, highlights the changes made for the new edition, lists all codes that have been inactivated (ever) with instructions on recoding, and also includes two separate lists: merchandising themes and regional themes. MT and RT not used as often as subjects but are very helpful for providing information not covered by subjects. They are not as specific as LC subjects, but the benefit is that they are easier to learn and they are an excellent way to group books together and track industry trends. For example, there aren’t enough books published on the Sistine Chapel to really spot a trend vs. a blip…but BISAC subjects allow you to do this on various levels (either by sections like Fiction, groupings within a section like romance fiction, or specific subject like paranormal romance).
  2. Here’s a sample of the beginning of the ARC section. All codes begin with ARC 000000 first ARC001000 way down the list Effectively random codes otherwise Trees based on text Xrefs within section and outside of section (in this case subject was moved)
  3. 79 codes. The purpose of this field is to provide a list of terms representing frequently requested merchandising themes and topics so that various organizations within the book industry can assemble materials appropriate to that theme or topic. Merchandising themes can be used in addition to subject codes to denote: An audience to which a work may be of particular appeal. A time of year or event for which a work may be especially appropriate. A frequently requested topic. In addition to grouping together works that can be classified under a variety of subjects, this field can be used to further describe fictional works that have been subject-coded by genre.
  4. 466 codes. The BISAC Regional Themes are optional codes that can be used in conjunction with a Subject Code or with a Subject Code and a Merchandising Theme, but should not be used on their own, e.g., in lieu of a Subject Code. The codes can be used for fiction or non-fiction. When selecting a code, the editor should use the most general applicable code without using multiple specific codes. For example, if a book focuses on New England, it should be assigned New England rather than a code for each of the six states that comprise New England. A general rule is to use the most inclusive code. However, the BISAC Subject Codes Committee makes no recommendation as to how many codes should be used. While a book does not need a separate code for continent, country, state and city, if the desired city is included on the list, it should be coded for each location appropriate to the book.   Level 1 – Continents Level 2 – Subcontinents Level 3 – Countries Level 4 – Subcountry regions Level 5 – States, Provinces, Counties Level 6 – City, Town, Area Level 7 – Borough, Neighborhood, District
  5. Not getting into these but the websites are given
  6. Statistics just based on data Bowker has received from publishers. We received 1.66 million ISBNs with a USA publication date of 2013 (print or ebooks). 1.27 million had BISAC code provided by publisher 1.25 codes per title 742K contained a general code 674K only contained a general code 2,502 contained NON000000 2,331 were only assigned NON000000 4,326 contained a code that is now inactive 13K had miscellaneous bad stuff (NA, 8-character codes, text instead of codes, etc.)
  7. At least one valid active code. The most specific code(s) applicable to a product and generally speaking up to three codes (if appropriate). Fielded or coded correctly depending on the format that is used. More than three codes only for those cases where it is necessary to convey the multidisciplinary aspect of a book. The same code(s) for each format of a title (i.e., where the same content is provided in a different delivery method – if something is a graphic novelization or children’s adaptation of a novel, then the subjects should change accordingly). Editions too! Not telling people how to assign subjects to their own books….but there is “wrong” (basketball book with baseball subject), there is “could be better”, and there is “depends on your preference” in particular as to the order of the subjects – bed and breakfasts in New England needs two subjects and I wouldn’t want to say the order.