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Metadata: something else to learn about -- fast!

June 9, 2010

Tags: metadata, publishing

Metadata is the new most important thing to know about writes Mike Shatzkin, IdeaLogical, 6-8-10. A publishing professional asks: What's the best way to index an e-book? As the reader enlarges or downsizes type on the page, the paging in an e-book will change, so you need an imbedded link, but that makes indexing expensive. On the other hand, if you could put that index on the Web, wouldn't people follow the "long tail" to your book and maybe buy it, when they find that something they are interested in appears in your book?

One more thing to study up on, maybe starting with Metadata Demystified: A Guide for Publishers (PDF, Amy Brand, Frank Daly, Barbara Meyers, Niso Press). Clearly GiantChair is the firm that knows where the action is going to be. They say, on their blog: "The point of the meta-identifier, in the case of a book catalog on the web, is to make it so that the catalog editors can invest their time and efforts on one set of descriptive data per book, without having to take into consideration the multiple formats and pricing that the book will be sold in. So the book has one meta-identifier, and each edition of the book has its own ISBN and price. This structure is critical as it allows for "The Book" to have a singular, authoritative web page which shows off its (hopefully rich) metadata, while also displaying the purchase options-- ranging from ordering the paper book, to downloading a PDF or MP3, to subscribing to imminently forthcoming online digital editions. All attention given to the book (from reviewers, search engines, bloggers, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) can be focused on one web page. This is extremely empowering and gives us the foundation we need to go to the next level.The next step is to turn the book's web page beyond a place of discovery and purchasing, and into a place where one can read the book and interact with fellow readers of the same book. Let's turn the book's web page into the book's social hub."
Everyone is talking about GiantChair. For example: Publishers Take Seat at Metadata Table with Giant Chair (Jennifer Zaino, Semantic Web, 3-1-10).

What issues should we know about? Has anyone explained this clearly on the Web?


  1. August 4, 2017 4:27 PM EDT
    The Secret Language of Books: What Authors Need to Know About Metadata (Phuong Mai, Digital Book World, 7-26-17) The metadata coordinator at Chronicle Books in San Francisco emphasizes the importance of authors taking more control over the metadata that accompanies their books. Metadata is "not just the words contained in those pages, but the things that describe your book’s physicality (binding type, number of pages, trim size), production (the design of the book, where it was printed, total print run), descriptive text and subject matter (book descriptions, biographies, categories and themes, audience information), and other data elements (ISBN, price, literary reviews, territorial rights). Hundreds of data elements are hidden from view of the final customer, but they all comprise a finished book. While there are many things that should be left in the hands of publishers, authors should feel free to be involved with their works in a number of ways after they have gone to print."
    - PM