Companies endorse BISG statement on misuse of the subtitle field

Posted By: Brian F. O'Leary Committees,

In May, BISG’s metadata committee released a comprehensive statement urging publishers to avoid featuring marketing copy in the title and subtitle fields. In the time since, metadata recipients and providers have issued statements of support, with six companies weighing in so far. Those endorsing the May statement of best practice include Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Bowker, ProQuest (a part of Clarivate), BookNet Canada, and the Firebrand Group.

These statements of support are featured on a new page on the BISG website. There, Ingram notes “the importance of metadata and the standardized best practices put in place for its collection and management.” Baker & Taylor adds, “The accuracy of Title and Subtitle has a direct impact on end-user discovery, selection, and purchase, and we’ve seen numerous instances where mismatches cause customer confusion, complaints, and even returns.”

In a joint statement, Bowker and ProQuest emphasized “the importance of using fields correctly and following best practice guidelines to ensure our customers receive the most accurate metadata for each title.” In its statement of support, BookNet Canada noted “It is frustrating to see effective and simple dedicated-for-its purpose metadata options for online marketing go unasked for by retailers and not implemented by publishers.” BookNet Canada added, “[Misusing these fields] reduces the effectiveness and usability of book metadata for everyone.”

The Firebrand Group, which both receives and sends metadata on behalf of its clients, concludes “By following BISG guidelines, for this and other key fields, more books will more easily reach more readers.”

The May statement served as a reminder on best practice in supplying marketing copy. Some metadata recipients approached BISG’s metadata committee earlier in 2023, noting an apparent rise in the practice of adding marketing and promotional text to the subtitle and sometimes the title field. The statement reinforced recommendations documented in the organization’s best-practices for product metadata, one of BISG’s flagship products. That best-practice guide is currently under review by a working group of the metadata committee.

BISG continues to collect statements of support from organizations operating across the book industry supply chain. These statements help build awareness of best practice. They also help metadata senders and recipients understand the perspectives of those companies actively managing the metadata supply chain. As measures of support are received, they will be added to this web page and periodically highlighted in the BISG newsletter and elsewhere.