The Subject Headings that Help You Sell Books

April 2002
by The Subject Headings that Help You Sell Books

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If you sell to major book wholesalers and retailers, you already know that many of them require you to use “BISAC Subject Categories” for your titles. Or if you plan to deal with these buyers in the future, you need to know that. And in either case, the information that follows should help you do better business with them and with others.

The BISAC Subject Headings were developed by the Book Industry Systems Advisory Committee of the Book Industry Study Group, Inc., to standardize book categories. Until BISAC took on that job for its industry-wide membership, the only standard subject classifications were the ones from the Library of Congress (LC). Major wholesalers such as Ingram and Baker & Taylor each had their own, nonstandard subject classifications, which they had developed to facilitate title lookup on their own microfiche products. But the LC list had 214,000 plus categories, far too many for most users outside the library world. And the wholesalers’ lists had just a few hundred categories, not enough for many applications.

 

Cracking the Code

With approximately 3,000 categories, the BISAC Subject Headings strike a balance between granularity and ease of use. What they describe is content. (For other kinds of classifications such as “gift book” or “mass market paperback,” you can use fields in ONIX and BISAC communications formats that describe language, audience, age and grade level, and…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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