By Edward Nawotka
“I’m evangelizing for metadata, currently I’m trying to create awareness among publishers about metadata for marketing,” says Ronald Schild, CEO of MVB Marketing- und Verlagsservice des Buchhandels GmbH, which is the technical and digital subsidiary of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association. “There is a saying in the market that metadata is the new bookseller. I wouldn’t say that is 100% true, but if you look at the online catalogs with millions and millions of books it becomes increasingly difficult for a publisher to market the one book they want to market. The only way to achieve that is to spend a lot of money on advertising or to get the metadata right.”
He continues, “Metadata for many publishers is an open field. It starts with the basic information…if a book doesn’t have a title, doesn’t have an author, it cannot be found. Then we now have a multitude of research proving the richer the metadata, the more extensive the metadata, the better the sales results.
“You can even break it down by field. If the metadata set contains the language alone, that field will double the probability of selling that book. Good rich metadata dramatically increases the sales of the book.”
It’s a simple solution, one might even think is redundant: if you’re a publisher, put the language of the book in the metadata. If you’re publishing in German, you must note the book is German. In Japan, note the book is in Japanese. So on and so forth. It seems obvious, but often this is overlooked notes Schild.
“It’s a little bit like search engine optimization. If you take the long description of the book, more publishers just put the flap copy in the book. But very often this is just the text the publisher wants to tell their audience about the book, but often this doesn’t have anything to do with metadata. The title might not appear in the description field or the flap copy, the main characters might not appear. But if it’s not in there, it is getting harder for search engines and Google to find the book. So publishers must become more digitally driven in order to get the metadata right.”
He adds, “Quite often it is very very obvious stuff, maybe too obvious to be looked at.”
To help publishers cope, Schild notes that MVB has set up a new company to assist publishers with quality of metadata: VLB Services. “The new company focuses on outsourcing metadata management. It helps companies check the quality of their metadata, to get the categories right, or the keywords for their backlist, or take over their whole metadata management.” VLB Services launches later this year.