Into the data dome
It was the kind of conference session that sends attendees out into the hallway wide-eyed and wary. And it was hard not to feel for them, too.
After all, at Writer’s Digest’s Annual Conference in New York City, when more than 650 people attend, you still can get raised hands just by asking, “Who doesn’t understand author-platforming?”
And here was Bookigee’s Kristen McLean in her “Understanding Metadata for Authors” session telling us that the current system is “massively complex” and “very messy,” shot through with “inconsistent data practices” with “no central data clearninghouse.” All of which is true None of which is encouraging.
“Data,” McLean told the attendees, “is moving all around in very disorganized patterns, and feedback loops are not effective.”
As anyone who’s paying attention (ahem) knows, in fact, a lack of agreed-upon standards and a collision of varying approaches aren’t the only problems.
Proprietary interests also are skewing viewpoints, at times. For example, there are some who don’t realize that an ASIN is not “as good as,” meaning the same thing as, an ISBN. They don’t realize that an ASIN is, effectively, an Amazon stock number, a tracking code that applies to a product’s life within the Seattle system, while an ISBN is universally readable and trackable from libraries to bookstores to researchers. While a self-publishing author might elect not to pay for an ISBN — and thus not be counted or recorded as producing content in the business today — trying to equate the two identifiers is a mistake.
“Fiction sales are most impacted by poor data,” McLean told the packed breakout room at the Roosevelt Hotel near Grand Central Terminal. “Titles that meet the standard” application of metadata coding for retail “sell 98 percent more” than titles that don’t. Titles with cover images sell 268 percent more. Titles that meet the standard, have that cover image, and have enhanced metadata sell 2,600 units more.”
McLean went on to give her audience — many of them for the first time — a chance to understand BISAC codes (for Book Industry Systems Advisory Committee), the category labels behind standardized metadata.
McLean, who works extensively with Nielsen, handed off after her own presentation to Laura Dawson of Bowker, whose talk, “Into the Stratosphere,” was focused on where data gathering and exchange may be headed, as various agencies and authorities work to advance global standards and compliance.
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By Porter Anderson | @Porter_Anderson
The FutureBook: Can better data management make good work stand out?
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