Subject Codes Committee Charter (2023)

Current State

The BISAC Subject List was developed to help authors, publishers, distributors, retailers, and libraries categorize books in a more consistent manner. The current list covers 54 categories and provides over 5,000 codes to categorize a given title. The list is used in the United States and Canada as the default resource for defining the content of a book.

Internationally, use of Thema, which is currently available in more than 20 languages, continues to grow. Since 2013, the subject codes committee has mapped all BISAC updates to the current version of Thema. The release of the 2023 BISAC update requires a revised BISAC-to-Thema map, which was created and published in early 2024.


The Committee works to keep the BISAC Subject List current, ensuring that it continues to meet the needs of the industry. Its annual and ongoing objectives are to:

  • Review sections (categories) on a cyclical basis, adding or deleting codes as needed, and updating descriptions when warranted.
  • Solicit and review requests for updates, which are assessed as they are received from the publishing community and members of the committee.

Stakeholder Impact/Benefits

Within the North American book industry, many businesses currently use the headings to aid in search, discovery, and sales. Some libraries are also utilizing the BISAC Subjects to facilitate the browsing experience for patrons. Typically, supply-chain participants adopt the annual updates quickly (within months) so that they can employ the most up-to-date categories and descriptions.


In 2024, the Committee plans to:

  • Meet on a monthly schedule to review a planned set of subject categories that include ART; ARCHITECTURE; BODY, MIND & SPIRIT; COOKING; HEALTH & FITNESS; and PHOTOGRAPHY
  • For the 2024 Edition, the committee revisit the language used in literals related to mental illness in the juvenile and young adult headings.
  • Via the web form and committee members, solicit suggestions from the broader community and consider suggestions to make specific parts of the Subject List more useful to the community.
  • Finalize changes by fall 2024 and bring the proposed update to the industry for comment, as well as to the BISG board for review and approval.
  • Publish the updated list in fall 2024, accompanied by an online webinar describing the updates.
  • Through its Thema working group, map 2023 BISAC codes to the current version of Thema (1.5).


A compelling proposal made to the committee prior to the close of the 2024 Edition may delay the edition until the committee can accommodate the proposal. A delay can occur if BISG membership or the BISG Board voices objection to one or more parts of the new edition, prompting modifications and a need to recirculate the draft.