Everything You Thought You Knew About Metadata…
There are also companies in North America and the U.K. that live and die by the excellent quality of the book data they produce. Two companies that I've had good experiences with are Firebrand in the U.S. and BooksoniX in the U.K.
2. Different retailers support different metadata.
And they support it differently for self-publishers loading one title at a time versus larger publishers feeding data coded in ONIX format.
I watch the way Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google and Kobo each handle metadata and I scratch my head. This is just data. It's based on a standard called ONIX. Why do they treat the subject categories differently? Why do they treat reviews differently? Goshdarnit, why can't they even respect the book's subtitle?
Sadly, when you reach intermediate status as a metadata technician you'll need to learn the idiosyncrasies of each online reseller's handling of the main metadata elements—if indeed they handle them at all. Keeping up with these changing idiosyncrasies is another reason to find an able partner.
My pet peeve is Amazon's handling of subtitles for self-published ebooks. Amazon insists they be included in the same data field following the title. For example "The End of the Line: Romney vs. Obama: the 34 days that decided the election: Playbook 2012 (POLITICO Inside Election 2012) (Kindle Single) [Kindle Edition]" They're then treated as part of the title, rather than their lesser role. It leads to all kinds of trouble in findability.
3. Foreign editions are a leading cause of chaos.
God created the world in a week, and soon thereafter publishers began treating the two largest English-speaking markets as completely separate. As a result, most upper-mid-list titles and higher find a home with a separate publisher in each country. The two national publishers rarely release the same book at the same time (unless it's Harry Potter). The price is set separately. Sometimes the subtitle changes. Even the title.
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.