Maybe this isn’t code breaking Robert-Langdon-style, but the new BISAC code list that came out in November 2009 is reflected in BNC SalesData now. After it was released, it was integrated into R.R. Bowker’s bibliographic database and then from Bowker into BNC SalesData around the middle of April.
Here is a refresher on why we use BISAC, why you see the categories you see in and where you see them.
The BISAC subject code list was selected as the classification tool for BNC SalesData to help describe the content of a work back in 2004. Developed and maintained by our sister organization in the States, BISG, BISAC was viewed then and today as the best option for a general classification list for the whole industry. BIC in the UK also uses a similar list.
With each modification of the BISAC list, there are additions, modifications and sometimes deletions to the nearly 3700 unique codes in the standard. In the November edition, several subjects were added to the list making them available for bibliographic managers across the industry to start using and we are already seeing many of these in the data.
In BNC SalesData, you, too, can see the new and modified codes reflected in several ways, and I will use the examples to illustrate when we show the full text BISAC code explicitly, and cases where we “roll up” the codes to the broader category for searching purposes.
The BISAC subject code displays in every bestseller list as a “BNC Subject” in the Bestseller list with Primary and Secondary subjects broken out into two columns and then a third column for the actual alpha-numeric BISAC code.
If you are looking for a particular subject in your results, you can see the differences in the subjects by looking at the BISAC codes:
In this case CGN004120 is Manga/Fantasy while CGN004050 is Manga/General. We roll all eleven of the Manga tertiary subjects: fantasy, historical fiction, romance, science fiction, sports etc into the Manga/General category in terms of the written out display for two reasons. The first is a technical issue. To display the tertiary subjects on the screen in the lookup is a display issue. There are just too many of them to show effectively. Second, the codes are not applied to enough books to provide useful results that you could use to make decisions on categories to develop. So, we roll all subjects up to Comic and Graphic Novels/Manga and provide sorting so that you can, if you choose to, bring together all the same BISAC codes.
You can choose to sort in this manner on the Title Trend and Titles by Markets reports as well.
On the Title/ISBN or Title Detail report, you can see the full BISAC subject code written out as well as the BNC Subject, or rolled up subject. The latter is available on the Bibliographic Detail view of the data.
Market Share Report
In the Market Share report, the subjects selected as rows or column headings can be drilled into to display the primary and then secondary subjects.
Additions vs. Modifications
In some cases new secondary subjects are added and called out in the subject list. A couple of examples are:
JUVENILE FICTION / Activity Books and JUVENILE FICTION / Nursery Rhymes. These categories have grown and can now be selected as a separate, search-ready categories. They may be found in the subject tree under Juvenile Fiction on the Create a report form:
In some cases, subjects have been modified and the change is now reflected in the text description only. In these cases, no changes need to be made to any reports you are running. The mapping to the new text happens automatically.
A good example is the Nature category. There have been several updates to language to reflect the growth in the ecological subject classification scheme. Nature/Animals has been broadened to include several other categories instead of a general catch all for animals that weren’t called out before. Nature/Fish has been replaced with Nature/Animals/Fish. For the purposes of any existing searches, because your query contained the Fish BISAC code, NAT012000, your searches will continue to return Fish titles. However, if you were building the query today, Fish or other variants would have to be wildcarded in the title using asterisks (*) to ensure that you weren’t returning results on all other animals. A similar change has occurred for Nature/Plants. Flowers and Trees are now categorized as a tertiary subject under Nature/Plants.
To see all the changes between the last version and the new one, the full BISAC subject list is available for sale from the BISG’s Publications section of their website. Also comes with a handy guide about how to assess your content to apply the subjects.
*Remember* that if you are classifying your books using ONIX, BNC SalesData only shows the first subject that is submitted on the record. If you are seeing something other than the subject that you want on the record, please let us know by submitting a correction through the Title/ISBN report or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The next release of BISAC is slated for November.