Let Users Discover Your Book with Metadata

MetadataImagine going into your favorite store to buy something.  The shelves are lined with all sorts of goods but there are no signs telling you where the thing you are looking for is located.  No product descriptions, no prices, no information whatsoever.  You look for an employee to help you but they cannot provide any information either because it is missing from the store.  Perhaps you have found what you are looking for but you need more data in order to make a purchase.  If that data isn’t available, what is the obvious conclusion?  You leave.  In the online world where people are navigating in a virtual space without walls, visual cues and data are essential for the buying process.  For publishers and authors selling physical and eBooks, this information comes in the form of metadata.

Book metadata is the descriptive information that corresponds to a book such as author, title, ISBN, page count, and a variety of other information.  In years past, this data was primarily used by the printing and publishing industries however with the explosion of online book retailing, metadata has been re-purposed.  Without rich and complete metadata, it is more difficult for buyers to discover your books and for retailers to discover them for buyers.  Without metadata, it is as if buyers are walking into a store that has no information about the products it has in inventory other than the products themselves.  Having essential metadata elements means that publishers and content creators will sell more books.

Metadata Elements

Over 200 various metadata elements are defined by ONIX (Online Information eXchange) for use in eBooks.  ONIX is the international standard for representing book, serial and video product information in a digital form.  It is important to note that not all elements are necessary for every book and the type of data that is best will depend heavily on a publisher’s intentions for that data as well as what suppliers require.  There is however a core set of elements that are commonly relied upon.  These are pieces of data that are required for virtually every title.  Sometimes there may be pieces of data that are required but only if they apply to a specific type of book.  Examples of required data could be ISBN, author, title, publisher, publication date, description of content, physical dimensions, publisher status code, return code and a digital image of the book (typically the cover image).

Metadata and SEO

Whether you are selling eBooks or physical books metadata is important for SEO (Search Engine Optimization).  It is important to note that this mainly applies to product metadata which is different from metadata that us used in eBook conversions.  According to data from the Pew Research Center, as of February of 2012, over 73% of Americans used a search engine to find something online.  On any given day early on in 2012, more than half of Americans were online using a search engine.  This means that being found in search is paramount to being successful at selling your books online.  Metadata helps to facilitate that discovery by users.

When search engines first emerged, algorithms that are used to rank web pages were not as advanced as they are today.  They relied on signals that could easily be manipulated so users were not getting relevant content to their searches.  Today, algorithms are extremely advanced (by one estimate it is said that Google has put almost 1,000 person years into perfecting their algorithm) allowing users to get the most relevant content.  This means that metadata must be very rich with descriptive content so that books of any kind can be found in search.  Authors and publishers can make sure the titles they are selling get found by including all applicable data that relates to the specific book.  More accurate and complete content means books will be found more easily with user queries.  Being found more easily means more sales.

Making Your Data Stand Out

At the beginning of a book’s life cycle, there is a lot of data that simply isn’t available to be included as metadata.  As time goes on however, more data about a specific title begins to accumulate.  A book may win awards, there may be reviews published, an author may give interviews, and new images may be associated with the book.  All of this information should be added to metadata to enhance it.  This extra data is part of the book’s identity and can more easily help it be found in search or help people through the buying process.  For instance a person who is interested in purchasing a specific title may look for reviews on it first.  Reviews may have been performed but if they are hard to find, this could be a lost sale for publishers or authors.

Author biographies are another great piece of information to include in metadata along with comprehensive descriptions and reviews.  The more information that can be provided, the more ways there are for a book to be discovered giving it more exposure.

Essential Data for eBook Files

As mentioned before, metadata used for product descriptions online and for administrative purposes is different from metadata used in the eBook conversion process.  Metadata requirements also vary based on the standard being used with common formats being EPUB (iBooks, NOOK, Sony Reader, Google Play, iRiver Story, Kobo Reader, Blackberry Playbook,  and a variety of others), Mobipocket (Palm, Blackberry, Windows, Cybook, iLiad), and Microsoft Reader (compatible on  the proprietary Microsoft Reader program).  Depending on the specific format, there are different required pieces of metadata.  For instance EPUB and Mobipocket files should include title, creator, file name, publisher, type, format, and language.  For authors and publishers, converting into as many of the popular formats as possible so that a title can be accessed by many different devices is essential for maximum exposure.  Many eBook conversion providers can make this happen.

In the online world where even the tangible loses its characteristics, accurate and complete information about a book is more important than ever.  Buyers online use data as a substitute for being able to hold and look at a product.  In the case of books, online buyers do not have the luxury of finding detailed information about a title like they can in a book store when they have the object in front of them.  Metadata provides that experience and not enough or low quality data can mean the difference between making a sale or not.

For more information on metadata and how to use it, check out Best Practices for Data Senders published by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG).  Another great resource is the Metadata Handbook which features tons of relevant information on Metadata and how it is used.

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Say Hello to 4-Color Printing from Edwards Brothers Malloy!

Four Color PrintingFor over a century, Edwards Brothers Malloy has been a leader in 1- and 2-color book manufacturing.  With the largest fleet of Timsons offset web presses in North America, a full complement of sheetfed presses, and 9 digital print centers, we can deliver more than a 100 million high-quality books and journals a year.

We’re now pleased to add 4-color offset books to our offering with the addition to our fleet of a 40” Heidelberg offset press dedicated to 4-color text printing.  The new press will be located in Ann Arbor, Michigan and is scheduled to be operational in the next month.  This will allow us to meet publishers’ needs for 4-color books in quantities ranging up to 3,000 copies.

We’re also adding to our 4-color digital capacity with another Kodak NexPress installation in Ann Arbor and a Xerox iGen 4 installation in Oxnard, California.  These two presses will be installed in November, increasing our digital color capacity significantly and bringing to four the number of digital print hub locations capable of producing beautiful 4-color books.  The other two color manufacturing hubs are located in Lillington, North Carolina and Paulsboro, New Jersey, outside of Philadelphia.

The addition of 4-color printing is an exciting step in our ongoing initiative to provide broad and comprehensive services to our customers.  For samples and more information, contact your Edwards Brothers Malloy sales representative.

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North Carolina Facility Pulls Off European Round

A Book with a European RoundMaking books with a European Round in the spine is not something a lot of American Book manufacturers have experience with.  The same was true for the men and women working on the Kolbus line in the bindery department at Edwards Brothers Malloy North Carolina.  Although it was their first time doing this kind of job, a little ingenuity and a lot of hard work and planning allowed them to pull it off without a hitch.

The North Carolina facility was selected to do the binding for this job because the Kolbus binding line had the European parts capable of producing the unique shape for the book required by the customer.  A handful of employees had also set aside time some years ago to travel to Europe for weeks at a time to be trained on the new equipment.

Through a process of trial and error and the dedication of the men and women in the North Carolina bindery, the facility was able to produce an excellent sample for the customer while significantly reducing setup time for a job that had never been done before at Edwards Brothers Malloy.  They learned that the glue normally used for marrying covers to book blocks would not be sufficient and found a substitute recommended by a vendor that was more flexible and that could withstand the rigorous heating process required for this bind style.

Preparation for this job required loads of planning with key employees adding extra hours to their daily routines.  Communication with management in Ann Arbor, MI and making sure everyone was in the loop about how the job was progressing was also a key factor in its success.  All of the employees involved in this particular job took on a personal responsibility for it and made sure it came out right.  In the end they produced more than a book with a special bind style; they had made a work of art.

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Customers Attend The First Edwards Brothers Malloy Book Manufacturing Seminar

Editorial and production staff from publishers all over the country converged on the Edwards Brothers Malloy Jackson Road facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The seminar kicked off Thursday October 18, 2012 and featured two days of in depth coverage on book manufacturing.

Held twice a year and taught by employees, the seminar offers a mix of classroom and hands-on learning covering such topics as electronic imposition, pre-press, offset web and sheetfed printing, digital printing, hard and soft cover binding, and materials.

Over 3,000 industry professionals have attended this seminar since 1988.

Basic Book Manufacturing Seminar 2012 Attendees

Attendees at the October 2012 Basic Book Manufacturing Seminar put on by Edwards Brothers Malloy

This year’s seminar is not the first however it is the first produced by Edwards Brothers Malloy as a unified company.

This was an added bonus for this year’s attendees as they got to tour multiple facilities featuring a wide range of equipment.

The seminar gives those in the publishing industry an inside glimpse of what it takes to produce millions of books on an annual basis.  Teachers at the event have century’s worth of combined experience in the book printing industry.

The basic book manufacturing seminar will continue as a bi-annual event within Edwards Brothers Malloy.

We are currently taking reservations for our next seminar to be held May 12-13th of 2013.  Many publishing professionals find great value in learning more about the book printing process.


You can also get more information by contacting a customer service representative.  Have you been an attendee at the book manufacturing seminar in the past?  Was it beneficial for you as a publishing professional?

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