Metadata and eBook discoverability


A book is no longer a physical acquisition. These days discoverability of the book is a booming industry and a lot of emphasis and marketing dollar is being spent to ensure the right user and book can be united. This process can be both amusing as well as exasperating. The application of metadata assumes a pivotal role in defining and marketing the content once it is released into the market. Discoverability using metadata is now becoming a front-office issue.

Publishers find they are able to grow sales through dynamic pricing of their titles. Here, they can be seen taking advantage of various specific price promotions and new pricing strategies. The concept of digital metadata for the publishing world was founded in the early 1970s-1980s at a time when barcodes on books were the norm. This was limiting in a lot of ways as it consisted of only ISBN, price and availability.

Once graphic user interfaces (GUI) made their presence felt and Amazon arrived on the scene, metadata changed. Now ISBN and price were not the only factors determining if a buyer bought a book. Consumers now began to look at metadata with book metadata being the cornerstone of the ‘World’s Largest Bookstore’. Now clearly defined by the industry, metadata is simply a basic set of tags of fields which describe the physical book, namely, ISBN, cover image, title, author, synopsis, copyright year, price and availability. All these pieces of information made it simpler for customers to decide if they wished to acquire a book through online means.

Dynamic pricing and eBooks go hand in hand. Here lies the challenge and opportunity to use data to adjust prices automatically instead of through human scanning of information and reliance on intuition. Experts observing decaying eBook sales tend to lower the price by 10-15% and see a steep rise in sales.

Growth in online book sales and lending means the importance of metadata has risen many fold. eBooks are clearly a generational tool, and with the market shifting from print to digital, metadata becomes even more crucial. Discoverability is crucial to the online world. Without the right metadata, the eBook will fail to exist. 

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