Who’s Your Publisher?

March 18, 2012 by Thad McIlroy

The New York Times today bestows a glowing review upon Lauren Groff’s new novel, noting  that “the raw beauty of Ms. Groff’s prose is one of the best things about Arcadia.” The book sounds marvelous. I’d never heard of Groff, but caught near the end of the review a strong endorsement also of her first novel, The Monsters of Templeton. The Times credits “Voice” as the publisher of both books. I’d never heard of Voice. I went to Amazon, where Voice is given credit for Arcadia, but Hyperion gets the nod for The Monsters of Templeton. The Kindle ebook for the latter, mysteriously priced at $3.03, is credited to Disney. (“Voice” is credited on Barnes & Noble for a $9.56 Nook ebook.)

Some checking…

OK, got it. Voice is “a new imprint of books for women at the center of life—fiction and nonfiction for smart, educated, busy, curious, seasoned women for whom reading is a passion. Women who want to read to figure out what they want next. An imprint by and for women—as women see themselves.” It’s run by Hyperion Books, an imprint of Buena Vista Books, Inc. and also the “adult trade book publishing unit of the Disney/ABC-Television Group, which is part of The Walt Disney Company.” (I should know!)

The ISBN number for the book is assigned by Hyperion. Nonetheless Google manages to default to the U.K. edition from Heinemann, and says there’s no ebook available. Even when I force Google to the Hyperion edition it still can’t find an ebook.

Following on my earlier post, this is another illustration of the metadata challenge facing publishers and resellers offering books online. The “Imprint” is often a different name than the “Publisher” which is possibly a different organization than the corporate parent. Random House, the largest trade publisher, operates about 40 imprints just in the U.S. while providing distribution services for about 150.

For self publishers the challenge is to just to understand the full requirements for metadata because none of the resellers expect much more than the correct name and price.

I’m working on providing a complete guide. Stay tuned.

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