Everything You Thought You Knew About Metadata…
It's the backlist that's a mess.
The larger and wealthier publishers have mostly digitized their backlists, which afforded them an opportunity to refresh the basic metadata for those titles. It's the millions of print titles that have yet to be digitized that suffer most. These days I can't help noticing metadata when I'm ordering books online and I cringe at the mess of metadata afflicting most publisher's print backlists.
I understand that the ROI isn't certain. Fixing all that muddled metadata is a big task. But you owe it to the book. You owe it to your authors. Most of them don't know enough to complain. If a book is worth keeping in print it's worth maintaining the metadata via your regular ONIX feeds, particularly the cover image. It's your sacred duty as a publisher.
You Think You're Intermediate
Your company looks to you to make sure the metadata is accurate, not just on your site, but on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google and more. Did you know:
1. A partner can relieve the pain of good metadata.
If at any point while reading this article you feel that your inner pinball machine just tilted and froze, it's time to look for a metadata partner. Potential partners offer services from basic to holding your hand, and their prices are thoroughly reasonable. You just need to find the right one for your scale and mission.
If you use a distributor for print or digital books, speak to that distributor. They probably can help you pin down accurate data. Meanwhile Bowker in the U.S. and Nielsen in the U.K. are each national agencies for book data. BookNet Canada fills the same role you know where.
If you're farming out your ebook conversions there's a pretty good chance that your vendor will also be able to help with metadata. They'll certainly have some names to recommend.
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.