LBF 2019: Minimal Metadata for Maximum Impact


From LBF 2019: Minimal Metadata for Maximum Impact

For publishers undertaking initiatives to upgrade or update content workflow and knowledge management, metadata becomes the great gremlin. An encyclopedic approach seems overwhelming when resources and time are limited.  A shortcut to success can begin with defining Minimum Viable Metadata – the set of bare minimum information necessary to describe each element of content.  The MVM itself will reflect a mix of internal and external factors, from IT systems to compliance requirements.

Stream our recent session from London Book Fair 2019 now.


Marie Bilde, Independent Book Industry Consultant Brian O’Leary, Book Industry Study Group Ian Sygne, Ixxus Joshua Tallent, Firebrand Technologies
Marie Bilde 
Independent Book Industry Consultant
Brian O’Leary
Book Industry Study Group
Ian Synge
Joshua Tallent
Firebrand Technologies

Highlights from the panel

“We as publishers need to think about our users, and what is it that metadata allows them to do? And that comes down to, what sort of publisher are we?” – Ian Synge

“You could say that, as a printed work, it’s just one reference book. It hasn’t got a lot of metadata in the trade supply chain. But when we want to publish it digitally, we chop it up in all the little articles in there. And to be discoverable, these need other kind of semantic metadata, where the most important of all is its location.” – Maria Bilde Rasmussen

“I think the thing that minimum viable to me means is not just these 31 elements [like editorial history or geolocation data], although they’re really critical, but what’s the minimum viable for the purpose intended? And that’s what’s changed.” – Brian O’Leary

“Those publishers who have engaged that and are starting to actually think through how do I [apply metadata] from the beginning…of the process, those are the ones who are going to be able to take that technological leap and get into that new market or engage that new consumer base and make those new sales. Because they’re going to be prepared for it. And the other ones are going to be catching up, just like we’ve been doing for the last 20 years.” – Joshua Tallent

Prefer podcasts? Listen now.

Transcript: Minimum Viable Metadata

“If you’re a trade publisher producing fiction, maybe all you need is author, title and something which enables Amazon to go and surface your content pretty readily. If you’re an engineering publisher, maybe you need to go into a lot more detail, so you can wrap all of your content to make it smart content that could be integrated into systems to make it much, much more powerful.” – Ian Synge

“[In the sales chain, metadata] it makes data products or text or content discoverable for potential customers, and it allows them – if you have a lot of content, which is very well tagged or described by metadata, to aggregate the exact or the perfect amount and the right content for you.” – Marie Bilde Rasmussen

“Virtually every piece of metadata that you put into a product is critical for marketing, ultimately. Metadata is marketing, but it’s also a component of consumption of the product – the engagement – and that’s the piece, I think, that we’ve missed. In the last 20 years, not just with mobile devices but really with the growth of the Internet, we’ve essentially created an entirely different way to consume and engage with content, but we’ve still got a metaphor that fundamentally is two-dimensional in producing a book.” – Brian O’Leary

“We have to be thinking about this from acquisitions all the way forward: from the editorial perspective, from the marketing perspective, from the authors’ perspective. Who is the metadata intended for? Who is the book’s end market, the end consumer of that content? If you can have that process built in as just part of the process of publishing, it makes it a whole lot easier when you get to the end of the line, to go and put this book up for sale. What do we say about it? How do we engage that market? It’s going to be a lot easier to do that if you have that process in place from the beginning.”  – Joshua Tallent

View the full transcript here.

Christopher Kenneally

Author: Christopher Kenneally

Christopher Kenneally hosts CCC's podcast, which debuted in 2006 and is the long continuously running podcast in the publishing industry. As CCC's Director, Marketing, he is responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of all stakeholders in publishing and research. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Independent (London), WBUR-FM, NPR, and WGBH-TV.

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