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Thema – the subject category scheme for a global book trade

Thema is a new global subject classification system for books, which has already gathered wide international participation.

Thema is intended for use by all parts of the book trade: unlike other book trade subject classifications, it aims to be globally applicable. And in contrast to various library classifications that are used internationally, it is tailored for commercial use within the trade. It is a flexible standard that allows each market to retain its unique cultural voice while still presenting a unified subject hierarchy that rationalises book classification. The goals of Thema are to reduce the duplication of effort required by the many distinct national subject schemes, and to eliminate the need for scheme-to-scheme mapping that inevitably degrades the accuracy of classification, by providing a single scheme for international use. It can be used alongside existing national schemes like BIC, BISAC, WGS or CLIL, and has the potential to eventually replace them (though this is not an immediate goal).

Thema version 1.2 NEW

Thema version 1.2 was released at the end of May 2016. Not all resources are available yet, but translations, mappings and other material will be made available here. The new version contains around 125 new subject categories and 150 new national extension qualifiers, but retains full backward compatibility with version 1.1.

  • Executive briefing – a high-level overview of Thema (PDF)
  • Basic Instructions for use of version 1.2 (PDF)
  • Interactive Thema category browser – includes the latest Danish, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Spanish, Swedish listings, plus nearly complete Arabic and partial Japanese and Russian translations (note that for these languages, where a translated term is missing, the English term is shown instead). The interactive browser should choose your preferred language from those available automatically, but you can also select any of the available languages manually. Chinese, Greek and Turkish translations have also been completed, but are not yet available here
  • Version 1.2 categories and codes in English (Excel, PDF, HTML, XML and JSON)
  • Version 1.2 categories and codes in Swedish (Excel, PDF, HTML)

Thema version 1.1

  • Basic Instructions for use (PDF)
  • Version 1.1 categories and codes (Excel, in English. Also available as PDF, Word,  XML and JSON), updated with additional national extensions added October 2015
  • Interactive Thema category browser for version 1.1
  • Mapping from BIC 2.1 to Thema 1.1 codes (Excel)
  • Reverse Mapping from Thema 1.1 to BIC 2.1 codes (Excel)
  • Mapping from BISAC 2014 to Thema 1.1 (available from BISG)
  • Mapping tool for BISAC 2014 to Thema 1.1 (provided by BookNet Canada in association with BISG) – this provides both one-off and batch translations based on the BISG mapping. See the BNC blog for details
  • Mapping from CLIL to Thema 1.1 (Excel)
  • Presentations on Thema from EDItEUR’s 37th International Supply Chain Seminar, Frankfurt 2015

Resources for version 1.0

The Thema project was launched at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2012, and a pilot draft of Thema version 0.9 was published on 19th April 2013. Early development was guided by a Thema board and a technical committee, and drew upon earlier work with an internationalised version of the BIC subject scheme. Thema goes further to ensure that it is internationally relevant, by combining a robust selection of shared subject categories with an expansive list of subject qualifiers which can contain national variants and extensions. Thema provides a structure that has global application while meeting local needs.

The first ‘live’ version of Thema was launched in late 2013, and version 1.0 was presented (PDF) at the CONTEC Conference during the Frankfurt Book Fair 2013. An initial spreadsheet (in English), a set of basic user guidelines, a mapping from the BIC 2.1 subject scheme to Thema, and a simple interactive category picker (with partial translations in six languages) were made available on 31st October 2013. Full translations of the scheme plus an extended multilingual version of the interactive picker (including full translations in German, French, Norwegian) and other resources followed. Further translations became available during 2014. The ‘sunrise’ date – the first date on which it was reasonable to include Thema classifications in product metadata (eg in ONIX files) - passed on 31st December 2013, and many implementations are now available in software vendors’ product management systems.

Thema version 1.1 – improved with around 125 extra categories and numerous other small refinements was launched on 30th November 2014 (initially in English only, though translated resources have been added since then, and further translations will be available soon). Version 1.1 is 'additions only', meaning that old metadata records need not be revised, but the new categories added provide for improved mappings from legacy schemes and greater precision in classification of children's and scientific titles in particular.

Thema is managed by EDItEUR through a number of national interest groups and an International Steering Committee, in a similar manner to ONIX for Books. The elected chair of the Thema International Steering Committee is Howard Willows (of Nielsen Book, though in this case representing the UK Thema national group). The scheme is free of charge for all to use, subject to EDItEUR’s normal, highly-permissive licence. No registration, fee or membership is required to implement and use Thema.

Thema in the press

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