What is Thema?
Thema is a new international book classification scheme based on the BIC and IBIC (the internationalized version of BIC) subject classification. IBIC will become Thema.
“Intended for use by all book industry stakeholders, Thema is a flexible standard that allows each market to retain its unique cultural voice while still presenting a unified hierarchy that rationalizes book categorization. The goal of Thema is to reduce confusion about subject codes for both upstream and downstream trading partners, in order to facilitate the sale of more books.”
—From the Thema web site (www.panthema.org)
Why another subject scheme?
Currently there are numerous subject/book classification schemes being used around the world. In some cases there are numerous schemes being used within the same country. In North America, we primarily use the BISAC Classification Scheme, and in the UK and other European countries, they use BIC/IBIC, but there are many more in use around the world. All of these schemes cause a great deal of confusion — especially when books are being sold between parties in territories that use different schemes (e.g., when a Canadian publisher is selling a book through a UK-based retailer to a UK reader).
Thema is meant to remove some of the complexity of trading in the global market, while still allowing for some local control. It is ultimately about making books easier to find for book buyers and readers.
Who is Thema?
Thema is a not-for-profit organization that has been tasked with the development and promotion of the Thema Classification Scheme. The organization has the support of over 15 countries that have committed to helping develop and promote the standard in their markets/territories. Each country has a ‘seat’ on the Thema Steering Committee and will help to direct the standard. For more information read our Press Release.
What about the BISAC Classification Schemes?
At least for Canada and the US, we fully expect that BISAC will continue to be used and developed in our market, and users should not stop classifying their books with BISAC. Simultaneously development will begin on integrating Thema into the Canadian market — BISAC and Thema can co-exist on the same book so there is no need to worry. BookNet will work through the Canadian Bibliographic Committee and our counterparts in the US, to make sure that Thema suits our market.
How about Canadian specific subjects, regions or topics?
Thema has the same basic structure as BIC. It is a hierarchical structure with top-level subject categories (like Art) divided into sub-categories (like Art - Architecture). These categories can then further be described with qualifiers that can be used to indicate Geographical area, Language and/or Time Period covered by a title, and also any Educational Purpose and/or Interest Age & Special Interest. The qualifiers are open to national interpretation and can be expanded to meet national needs or requirements.
Stay tuned. The work is beginning now, but it already has a running start. BookNet will be pushing out more information as things move forward, but feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Thema Website (in development)
BIC Overview (for preliminary information on the basic structure for Thema)
IBIC Overview (from the BIC Supply Chain Seminar, April 2012)