Metadata means “data about data.” In that sense, the mean, median, and mode are data about data. But in the book sense, we mean the data that describes the book:
- author bio
- publication date
- page count or audio length
- bar code
- format: hardcover, ebook type, audiobook
- subject headings (from a standard classification system such as the international Thema
- intended audience
How Metadata Is Used
A books’ metadata helps book sellers, librarians, and book readers alike. Some metadata appears on the book cover, some on the copyright page, and some in the background information on an ebook. This information is almost always included as XML code somewhere, whether in the ebook or in the sales page. Some metadata is provided by the publisher, but the CIP data (cataloguing in publication information) comes from the Library of Congress (or similar, outside the USA).
Creating a salable book involves metadata as a critical step. Making it accurate and complete means people will be able to find the book, to read it and to sell it. Keywords help a book be discoverable by more than title and author alone. Metadata might even include an abstract of the book, following the well-known practice found in journals.