Everything You Thought You Knew About Metadata…
3. There's a difference between findability and discoverability.
Discussions about the value of metadata move quickly to proclaim that metadata is essential to discoverability. Discoverability isn't defined: We're left with the vague sense suggested by the word's root "discover." Most people know that there are too many books and too much information, so the idea that it's challenging to find a book resonates. Certainly everyone who's part of the publishing supply chain, whether author, publisher or reseller, is well aware of the problem. They know that just because a book is good doesn't mean it will ever be found.
Metadata's first task is mere findability—and the distinction is important. For argument's sake let's assume that half of the books purchased or borrowed from libraries are searched for just by title or by author. Those books must be found, not discovered. It's the other half that will be discovered, whether by wandering through the stacks at the library or strolling the aisles of a bookstore (or the online equivalent).
Findability is the challenge of locating exactly what you're looking for (even if you have incomplete or inaccurate information about the book). Discoverability is the process by which a book appears in front of you at a point where you were not looking for that specific title (although you are looking for something in the same direction).
Metadata plays an important role in both of these tasks, although the role it plays is substantially different in each.
4. Metadata is your sacred duty.
These days most publishers are doing a pretty good job of assigning basic metadata to their new titles as they're published. You won't find many bestsellers missing a description and a sampling of the advance reviews. The book cover shows up loud and clear.
Thad McIlroy is an electronic publishing consultant, analyst and author, and principal of The Future of Publishing. Since 1988, Thad McIlroy has provided consulting services to publishing and media companies, printers, prepress shops, design and advertising agencies, as well as vendors serving the publishing industry.