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The Digital Publishing Forum – a regular evening seminar series organised by the UK Publishers Association with University College London and EDItEUR – on January 27th focussed on metadata.

The speakers, Jack Tipping from Bowker, Kieron Smith of Blackwells Bookshops, Simon Pallant of wholesaler Gardners Books, and Lindsay Mooney of Kobo, spoke on the topic of ‘What metadata do wholesalers and retailers want from publishers?’ Their presentations showed remarkable agreement on the continuing need for comprehensive, accurate and timely metadata.

One key theme was the need to ensure that – while good standards for communicating metadata exist – it’s vital to use those standards correctly, for examble by ensuring each element of data was in the correct field, rather than including data about the edition or product format in the title. Correctly distinguishing between the publication date of a particular book and the first publication date of any version of that title enables the data recipient – ultimately the retailer – to make the best use of the data, to optimise discoverability, and to sell more copies.

The speakers also agreed strongly on the need for publishers to include ‘more links’ within the metadata – that is, to ensure links between hardback and paperback of the same book, between 3rd and 4th editions, or between various formats of e- and printed books. And each speaker highlighted the need for publishers to provide comprehensive sales rights information, noting that incomplete data was common and prevented the proper international exploitation of the book.

The slides used by the speakers can be downloaded from the Event page on the EDItEUR website. 

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