Article

Darren Ryan
Darren Ryan 3 December 2019
Categories B2B, Content, Technology

Why Book Metadata is Crucial for Sales

The unique information of a publication - or its metadata - is the make or break of a book's success in the market. This idea is not new, yet publishers are ignoring this aspect of the business.

There was a time when the marketing of books relied on the information on the front cover. And possibly the ISBN on the back cover. Those were the days that books were searched for by real humans on actual bookshelves. But times have changed with the rapid influx of technology into all facets of our lives. Publishers have not kept pace however - to the detriment of their sales figures.

Yes, publishers should be focusing on the literary aspect of their publications. Book metadata is not exactly riveting stuff, but neglecting it means that brilliant pieces of writing may not be exposed to their full potential. If they're not accessed by readers, they rot in the lower shelves of libraries or on the edges of the internet as unread e-books. The more metadata is available for a publication, the more discoverable it is and the more it will sell. 

Search engines and retailers like Amazon use APIs - basically an interface that allows apps to talk to one another - that give software developers access to publishers' metadata. The more metadata that is made available, the greater the chance that the publication will be discovered in the world of e-commerce. This is key for sales and marketing, obviously. 

What is metadata?

There are two types of metadata: core and enhanced metadata. 

  • Core metadata - as the name suggests - is the critical data needed to list and sell an ebook. This is the information we're generally used to, like title, author and contributors, category, ISBN and digital rights management.

  • Enhanced metadata historically had the connotation of being an optional extra. It's also referred to as marketing-related metadata, which suggests its importance in how a book is promoted. This includes descriptions, author bios, excerpts, images, Q&As, reviews and multimedia. It's been an area that's been slow to start, but awareness of its role is growing. These fields are often the ones left empty by publishers. 

What's metadata got to do with sales?

Nielson Book conducted a study in 2016 which revealed that publishers are leaving existing metadata fields empty. This might be based on the idea that these are optional, that they're not significant. But these fields are often the basis for an upsell to another title by the same author or another author with a similar writing style or genre. This, then, leaves no excuse for poor sales. 

By taking such a relaxed view of metadata and neglecting the practice of meticulously filling out as many fields as possible, publishers are their own worst enemy. Books simply cannot be found, even if there is a potentially large market for them.

How can technology help?

ONIX for Books is based on XML and provides a consistent standard for expansive and detailed metadata. This allows the sharing of information about books from publishers to their retailers and to other members of the supply chain. It is a global standard, not bound to any particular language or region, and it is a way for databases to share data with one another, albeit not a database in itself.

Newer versions of ONIX allow for print and ebooks to be linked, appealing to both market segments. 

You can't overdo it with metadata

The direct link between metadata provided and successful sales is clear. For publishers to continue neglecting this element is short-sighted. It's more than simply a matter of admin and it should be prioritised. 

While it is the publishing of literature itself which is the appealing work in this industry, the less glamorous side must be properly taken care of too. Change is hard and technology can seem daunting or pointless sometimes, but it's moving at such a pace and it can benefit publishers to such a massive extent, that it cannot be left to chance. The next time you're about to go into publishing mode, make sure to fill in as much metadata as possible. Make a habit of this and see if it's affected the sales numbers come year-end. 

Please login or register to add a comment.

Contribute Now!

Loving our articles? Do you have an insightful post that you want to shout about? Well, you've come to the right place! We are always looking for fresh Doughnuts to be a part of our community.

Popular Articles

See all
7 reasons why social media marketing is important for your business

7 reasons why social media marketing is important for your business

Social media is quickly becoming one of the most important aspects of digital marketing, which provides incredible benefits that help reach millions of customers worldwide. And if you are not applying this profitable...

Sharron Nelson
Sharron Nelson 6 February 2018
Read more
10 Digital Marketing Trends for 2019 you Should Know

10 Digital Marketing Trends for 2019 you Should Know

As digital trends evolve every year, marketers should always be aware of the changes in order to easily adapt with emerging technologies and stay ahead in the market. This will help them gain a competitive edge and...

Georges Fallah
Georges Fallah 27 December 2018
Read more
Digital Marketing Vs. Traditional Marketing: Which One Is Better?

Digital Marketing Vs. Traditional Marketing: Which One Is Better?

What's the difference between digital marketing and traditional marketing, and why does it matter? The answers may surprise you.

Julie Cave
Julie Cave 14 July 2016
Read more
Top 10 B2B Platforms to Help your Business Grow Worldwide

Top 10 B2B Platforms to Help your Business Grow Worldwide

Although the trend of a Business to Business portal is not new but the evolution of technology has indeed changed the way they function. Additional digital trading features and branding has taken the place of...

Salman Sharif
Salman Sharif 7 July 2017
Read more
Top 10 Skills to Become a Rockstar in Digital Marketing

Top 10 Skills to Become a Rockstar in Digital Marketing

Technology is continuously evolving, prompting marketers and entrepreneurs to dive into digital marketing to increase brand awareness, reach their target market, and ultimately drive sales and profit. 

Jessica Andriani
Jessica Andriani 7 September 2018
Read more