Photo by Bernard Walker
One of the biggest buzzwords floating around book publishing insider circles is metadata. Metadata is another way of saying ‘information about an book’ (meta means ‘about’). Metadata is broken into two different types: core metadata which includes such things as ISBN, title, author, category, price and publisher and enhanced metadata includes which includes cover, blurb, author biography, sample chapters, quotes and reviews.
Metadata has different purposes depending on the context. For example, in an online book market environment, a reader has no personal guidance, but there is an unlimited selection of books. Results are based on recommendation algorithms, search algorithms driven by keywords and importantly, the book’s metadata.
In a talk given by Ronald Schild at the Frankfurt Book Fair’s CONTEC conference, called ‘The Future of Metadata,’ he emphasized the need for semantic analysis, which basically breaks down to identifying the ‘core concept’ of a book. Without semantic analysis, recommendations are less valuable. People don’t search for books by ISBN, but by themes (‘coming-of-age set in rural Ireland’ or ‘romance set in 1940’s England’) and emotional topics.
Online conversations represent potential markets for a book according to book marketer Peter McCarthy who argued that there are far more potential readers for each book than is ever reached. If publishers are to keep their value to authors, they need to be the best at connecting authors and titles to the most right readers. A keynote talk given by journalist Sascha Lobo also suggested how the Internet will change the book. Selling books has always been social, in fact the social element has always been the most important, according to Lobo.
Most people will read a book after it has been recommended by a friend or someone within their social sphere. Sascha Lobo’s contention is that the bestselling tool for books, on the Internet, is buzz. And buzz is exactly what book marketing expert Peter McCarthy attempts to quantify using tools to enhance book discoverability. But at the end of the day no amount of algorithms or tools can match a book whose time has come.