Out with the Old Subject Codes and In with the New

We’ve got two important subject-classification related announcements for you.

1. New BISAC Codes

The 2012 edition of the BISAC Subject Codes is now available. You can access the online version at the same URL as always: http://www.bisg.org/what-we-do-0-136-bisac-subject-headings-list-major-subjects.php

A quick review of the main concepts: BISAC subjects are updated each year. The list mirrors typical book sections—what is currently being sold—used by general trade retailers. So as culture and practice changes, so does the subject list. Publishers and retailers are expected to ensure that their active titles (frontlist and backlist) match the latest version within a reasonable time frame).

Change comes in different ways: Sometimes the “literals” or descriptions change while the code remains the same. This doesn’t typically affect the codes attached to older books, it just improves and clarifies the descriptions going forward. But other times, codes are also made inactive and new codes are added, and these you need to update. Why? Because up-to-date codes help retailers sell books.

Highlights: There are 71 additional codes, 54 changes, and 1 reactivation—too much to list in detail, but Fiction key section this time around with 19 additions and 17 changes that reflect the growth trends in Romance, Mysteries, Thrillers, and Science Fiction. And, as you would expect, the Computers section has changed with 9 additions and 16 changes, many to reflect mobile technology. Also Social Activists have their own section in Biography now, as does Rail Travel in the Travel section and Wiccan and Pagans in Religion (not just Body, Mind and Soul). If you to think about it, the changes are an interesting snapshot of society—write an essay!

The BISG Subject Committee—ably helped by BNC’s Neha Thankido a great job. Good subjects are a lot of work so it’s quite an accomplishment. Now do your part and make sure your records match the current list.

2. THEMA Subjects Are on Their Way

There is a new international subject scheme coming—in case you missed it, Noah provided an overview back in mid-October.

A working group is currently pulling together a list of qualifiers as THEMA wants a first go-around by the end of January, and, if all goes well, we’ll have it available for comment in advance of the deadline.

THEMA will not likely be used until late 2013, and even then it will likely be left in parallel with BISAC while we all figure it out. The good news? If all goes as planned there will be one subject scheme working for all markets across the world.

If you’ve got any questions about THEMA or would like to participate in future THEMA committees, please email us at biblio@booknetcanada.ca.