Metadata for Books—Better Living Through Blogging

November 2nd, 2015

There are not many people who blog about metadata. There are fewer still who blog about metadata for books. (*Note 1, below.)

I do. It’s my vice. And like many vices it’s a source both of stimulation and of solace. (And, of course, as a vice, it can get out of hand.)

I blog about metadata here at The Future of Publishing, but not often, knowing that for many of my readers metadata is a subject so dull that well, you can get a sense of how dull it can seem in the note below. (*Note 2, below.)

Onix: "It is a very aggressive Pokémon..."

Onix: “It is a very aggressive Pokémon…”

Nonetheless, there are many (OK, perhaps a few thousand) people who devote much (some) of their day to book publishing metadata concerns. There are a few thousand more quite interested in the topic, but spared from dealing with it as an everyday responsibility. And there is another bunch (a swarm? a murder?) who follow metadata from a distance of 30,000 feet. It is to these groups that I wish to call attention to my metadata blog.

The blog appears, appropriately enough, on the website of our book (co-authored with Renée Register) The Metadata Handbook. (7-01-24: I’ve shut the site down… now directing buyers to Amazon.)

I cover all the hot topics: new ONIX for Books Codelists, moving from ONIX 2.1 to 3.0, “The Discoverability Problem,” standards activities at the publishing associations and, well, the latest ONIX for Books Codelists.

I just wanted to bring the blog to your attention because, well, because not enough people know about it and I wish more people would read it. Thanks.

Note 1. Other metadata blogs:

There are only three blogs that I’m aware of that consider metadata for book publishers.

BookNet Canada, “a non-profit organization that develops technology, standards, and education to serve the Canadian book industry” has some of the best coverage of book publishing metadata, because of their very smart metadata guru, Tom Richardson.

Bibliocloud, the powerful publishing management system, rooted in metadata, maintains a blog, though it mostly promotes its services.

There’s also a group called onix_implement. It’s “an e-forum for implementation queries about ONIX for Books.” As such it is very technical and very situation-specific.

The library community lives and breathes metadata far more deeply than book publishers. Here is a sampling of library-focused metadata blogs:

Metadata Matters, the blog of Metadata Management Associates.

Outgoing: Library metadata techniques and trends is a very technical blog by Thom Hickey.

The Metadata Discussion Group of the Indiana University Libraries is no longer active.

There is a Metadata Blog of the ALCTS (Association for Library Collections & Technical Services) Metadata Interest Group, although the last post was in 2020.

Dull, in a new way.

Dull, in a new way.

Note 2: Leave it to Charles Dickens to capture the pain of the truly dull. In October 1885 he wrote about Thomas Walker’s “threepenny weekly magazine.” It was, he complained, “so dull that it is hard to understand how it survived its first weeks at all; so dull that its decease, after a brief career of some six months, is no matter of wonder; so dull that it is, at first sight, difficult to make out why even its memory should have survived that of so much of the periodical literature which has succeeded it.”

March 20, 2016: A colleague suggested the other day that publishers feel the responsibility of creating good metadata is akin to mom saying, “Eat your vegetables!”