Best Practices for the BISAC Subject Headings – Selecting a Book’s Subject Category

June 2005
by Karen Pavlicin

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When we updated our listing for the PMA directory earlier this year, we had a problem. It was the same problem we’d had when we applied for various awards last year and when we decided on category-specific mailings and catalogs:

Some of our books don’t fit neatly into existing subject categories.

Surviving Deployment: A Guide for Military Families is a good example. The primary audience is military spouses. The book includes inspiring stories about the experiences of military families along with checklists and information on finances, communication, helping children deal with a parent’s absence, and many other aspects of deployment.

When this book was first released, we matched it to the BISAC code for Family & Relationships. Our choice was based on BISAC notes that say Self-Help is for works aimed at personal growth and help with personal problems, such as mental illnesses or dependencies; Social Science is for works written from a sociological viewpoint; and Family & Relationships is for works designed to help people deal with child rearing or relationships.

Self-Help was a possibility, but Family & Relationships made the most sense to our team as well as to our small focus group of military spouses, who said they would look under either Military Deployment (the closest BISAC heading would be History or Biography or the inactive Current Events) or Family. History and Biography did not resonate with this focus grou…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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