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August 2012 - Metadata and Book Discoverability

The jury is out on metadata and the book trade with the verdict that more is more: lots of metadata equals increased book sales.

Metadata is a book's DNA-the descriptive characteristics that are specific to each book, such as title, ISBN, formats, publication date, and price. These core items are the basics for getting a book discovered online, but are no longer sufficient in an increasingly crowded web community. In order for a book to be found through search engines, which is how most consumers browse for books, it is now recommended that core metadata be enriched or enhanced to include page counts, related editions, awards, prizes, jacket blurbs, series, media mentions, interviews, and reviews. This shift in thought is precipitated by a move to a more consumer-centric model of book selling; book data that was once reserved for dissemination to the trade (librarians, distributors, and retailers) is now being used to guide everyday readers about what books to buy. Online consumers are savvy and sophisticated shoppers, and it is crucial to provide them with detailed and accurate information so that a book title can rank high in the search engines, get found, and be purchased.

It is instructive to view good metadata as part of an overall digital book marketing strategy along with blogs, websites, and social media. The adage "content is king" aptly applies here and a book's metadata descriptors are an important part of that content mix. The more metadata and keyword-rich content an author or publisher can provide about a book title, the better.


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