Metadata: The Elemental Particles of E-books

2020-05-08 | Ink it

Carlos Rojas Urrutia | CEO at Metabooks Mexico

We are living unprecedented times, and we still don’t know exactly how the publishing industry will adapt to the imminent challenges yet to come. And, although our current reality is forcing us to stay home, digital tools allow us to stay in touch with our beloved ones, keep our jobs going, request services, and explore the content tailored to our preferences that the publishing industry has to offer.

For this reason, now more than ever, relying on optimized, easily shareable, and standardized metadata should not be regarded as vanity, but rather as the most important tool that grants readers access to content through the displays of their mobile devices and computers.

Today, the channels through which we receive product offerings are larger than ever. Amazon, the book industry game changer, has taken metadata analysis and management to a whole new level: their most recent speech recognition software, Alexa, is able to tell a person’s mood based on the tone of their voice or facial expressions. 

Metadata is the set of elemental particles that allows linking customer interests to products and services. Within the publishing industry, metadata, far from being the contents of a book, is actually information on a book as a whole. 

The publishing industry faces unique challenges, most of which arise from the extensive offering of millions of individualized products available in the market that are provided by thousands of different publishing companies on a worldwide basis.

Consultant Bill Kasadorf, founding member at Publishing Technology Partners, states metaphorically that, in the era of information, metadata is the oil that keeps the gears of the publishing industry running smoothly.

Metadata is about elemental particles designed to sell editorial content as it is the tool with which consumers can find exactly what they’re looking for. It constitutes a crucial element in edition, production, and distribution processes for publishers. Moreover, metadata lies within the core of the job done by librarians and researchers.

The importance of metadata goes beyond its role as foundations of a product. It can easily be used as a sales strategy for printed and digital books, as well as audiobooks. Metadata, in the end, builds interconnection networks that, just like communicating vessels, link products in many different ways.

Most publishers based in Spanish-speaking countries, in spite of the growing evidence about the benefits of a good metadata management strategy, still use Excel sheets for this purpose. These softwares did the job for decades; however, they have fallen behind, since they do not, in any way, reach the potential of modern softwares designed for sharing, searching, managing, and updating information.