1. Posted January 27, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Metadata has a “less than cool reputation”? And the height of this uncoolness is “solitary librarians checking ISBN numbers in their card catalogues”?? If this is truly a publishing perspective, then publishing is in a worse situation than I had feared! Please tell me its not so!

  2. Posted January 27, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    So… Ms. Johnson, do you actually know any librarians? Just curious about the source of your negativity.

  3. Hannah Johnson
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    I do know some librarians, and their knowledge of organizing and finding information far exceeds what most publishers care to know. No negativity was intended towards librarians. And I do appreciate your feedback on this issue.

    The reference to “card catalogues” was meant to show that perceiving metadata as “less-than-cool” is antiquated, which I believe it is. As more readers turn to search and online sources to find books, organizing this information and making it discoverable is a crucial component to marketing and selling books.

    My impression in talking to some publishing folk is that they would rather spend time with the text and the ideas in the text than with the metadata, which in the past, has been their primary role. But that is no longer the case. Everyone in the supply chain uses metadata and needs to be involved in making sure it is accurate and helpful.

    Of course there are many people in publishing who work a lot with metadata, and they are the people leading the industry forward on this front. I hope that more people in the publishing industry will start to work on cleaning, standardizing and innovating their metadata.

  4. Hannah Johnson
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Permalink
  5. David Thomas
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Sadly the task completing metadata tags for existing books in a publisher’s catalog would be given over to individuals with little insight and sensitivity to either utility or accuracy (no fault of their own, they’ll be recent college grads with little experience to draw from and just looking to make the next leap into another department). For the average size publisher’s list, this “project” would take years to complete and might be hard to justify to budget conscious scrutiny. The promise land is always a lot farther off than hype. Look at Google’s book scans as a comparable example — its not hard to find pages at sharp angles, missing a third of the text, and the rest blurry. And that’s with a machine doing the heavy lifting. So sure, they hype volume, but quality?

  6. Posted January 29, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never heard of metadata before, but it sounds like a great way to find new books, and maybe get out of your comfort zone if you’re dedicated to one or just a few authors. I always look at the book recommendations when I’m browsing through Amazon, mainly out of curiosity, but I had no idea how deep these connections ran. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Posted January 30, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    This is an excellent piece, Hannah, and it speaks directly to the power of the AC Showcase(TM), an essential tool in any book marketing program. Each AC Showcase(TM) is focused exclusively on the author and their book – with excerpt, summary, reviews, ISBN, pricing, author blog and website links, author bio, author photo, book jacket cover, fun facts, keywords for metadata, etc.

    The integration of all these tools is the answer for publishers and authors, and they all come together in one cost-effective piece called the AC Showcase(TM) from Author Connections, LLC. http://www.authorconnections.com

    Cheers to you,

  8. Posted January 31, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    Really a great way to make each book discoverable for the potential buyer.

    The metadata tagging can make a difference in sales. As the supply-chain (in print and digital)gets dynamic with faster adoption of new technologies, content creators need to take efforts to integrate the tools as metadata. Providing enhanced metadata for each book will be the first step in making the content intelligent.

  9. Posted February 5, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    It’s fantastic to see the publishing industry awakening to the possibilities of technology and the use of metadata is a great one. Since publishing has a long history squarely in the liberal arts, it’s difficult to imagine publishing houses hiring technology people or knowing what to do with them once they get there. But, this is a perfect example of how the industry must not only see the problems of marketing in a digital and segmented world, but identify how they will move forward.

    First, metadata is hard to capture. As John Cleese said in an article he wrote in the 90’s for an IT magazine, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him enter field codes in column 42 to facilitate reporting on the back end.” Metadata is also hard to mine for. Spin up an experienced database administrator (DBA), fluff his pillows for a year and you might have something useful. And metadata is hard to design and analyze. Try getting said DBA, a business analyst, a client or user and a PhD in mathematics in the same room and see if they can even communicate without a buffet of Goody’s headache powder next to the bottled water. But, I digress.

    Market segmentation, sales and forecasting are practices that can be borrowed from other industries. I worked for a company back in the 90’s that did this for the airline industry. See http://www.amazon.com/Revenue-Management-Robert-G-Cross/dp/0553067346/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1296929492&sr=8-2 published in 1996. This was a Malcolm Gladwell style book before Malcolm Gladwell was cool. Today’s version of Bob Cross’ book is The Numerati http://www.amazon.com/Numerati-Stephen-Baker/dp/0547247931/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1296931518&sr=1-1 Publishing should be knocking down the doors of small companies and cherry picking all their operations research staff, system architects, DBAs, software engineers and business process analysts.

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