Are You Providing Poor Book Data? Executive Director Michael Healy on the BISG’s Product Data Certification Program.
Michael Healy wants to improve the quality of information shared between book publishers and booksellers. Earlier this year, Healy, executive director of the Book Industry Study Group (BISG), helped introduce the Product Data Certification Program (PDCP), a free program aimed at increasing the accuracy of the product data publishers make available for their titles.
Healy is dedicated to spreading the word across the industry about the group’s ongoing efforts. “You’d think there would be a very high level of awareness of how important good, quality information is to the whole process of selling books,” he says. “We’ve had 10 years of [Online Information Exchange (ONIX)], but when you talk to booksellers, improvements in book information have been marginal.”
Book Business Extra: Why did BISG create the PDCP?
Michael Healy: It seemed to me that there was something … missing. What was missing was an opportunity for a publisher to send a data file somewhere and have that data file analyzed … by someone impartial. … There’s [a] real benefit of having an independent voice telling you [that] you’ve done a good job or that you’ve consistently provided poor data. … All you have to do is send the product records of all the books you’ve published in the past 180 days and all the books you will publish in the next 180 days. We will run [the data] here and check for the absence or presence of [certain] data elements. If 80 percent of your product records are good, you’re certified. …
Extra: How would you describe the current state of available product information for book-related products?
Healy: … It’s tough to know how good or bad the overall state of data is. Some publishers have taken this message seriously. They’re investing time and people and resources to [generate] real high-quality data. But there is a surprising number—across the board—who still are failing in very, very basic ways …. Our industry, as a whole, has a long way to go. What we’re trying to do with our [Product Metadata Best Practices, BISG’s set of voluntary guidelines] is to gently edge the industry up a notch in respect to product data by providing a service that’s absolutely necessary.