BIC criticises ‘confusing’ use of metadata fields for book promotion
In the UK, supply chain organisation Book Industry Communication (BIC) has urged publishers to stop using ‘hugely confusing’ blurb material in title and subtitle metadata fields, reports the Bookseller.
BIC issued a statement on 9 March in which it noted that some publishers and other metadata providers are using the subtitle fields—and sometimes the title fields—in metadata feeds to carry marketing and promotional text, including phrases such as ‘Sunday Times Best Seller’, ‘Gripping read from…’, ‘The Richard & Judy Book Club thriller 2017’. BIC urged publishers and metadata providers to ‘cease this practice immediately’ and warned that ‘continued misuse’ could lead data recipients to ignore subtitle fields completely, or to ‘lock’ key fields after they have been manually corrected, thereby preventing updates to the metadata or delaying the visibility of products online.
BIC said that this kind of promotional text is ‘not wanted’ by retailers or libraries and is ‘hugely confusing’ for book buyers, adding that misusing the subtitle field could adversely affect the accreditation of the publisher or metadata provider in the future.
The organisation claimed there has been a ‘significant escalation of this practice over the last 12 months’. The practice is also having an adverse effect on supply chain efficiency because removing the unwanted text incurs extra costs and is time consuming for retailers and aggregators.
‘In order to promote, sell and find books efficiently, booksellers, data aggregators, libraries and others need clear bibliographic details as well as clearly separate promotional text. Industry-standard ONIX metadata has distinct fields for promotional and marketing information that meet this need,’ said BIC executive director Karina Luke in the statement.
The statement cites support from UK retailers, libraries and data providers, including Amazon, Blackwell’s, Kobo Writing Life (Kobo’s self-publishing platform), Waterstones, the UK Booksellers Association, Bibliographic Data Services (BDS), Bowker, Nielsen Book, the British Library and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).