Mastering Thema: Essentials for Publishers

March 14, 2024
Ingram Associate
Mastering Thema: Essentials for Publishers

Beginning in February 2024, Thema is the new UK standard for book classification and metadata, replacing the now obsolete BIC Standard Subject Categories. The UK book market is valued at approximately six billion dollars, making it an opportunity publishers and authors do not want to miss out on.

Changes to the book industry take time, but now is the opportune time for publishers to make updates to their systems and the ways they categorize their books to ensure readers can find what they’re looking for within the new system.

What is Thema? And Why Does It Matter for Publishers?

Thema subject codes, like BISAC codes, were created to clearly express what a book is about, and they can increase options for shelving and discoverability among readers. Thema is the most comprehensive subject categorization system in the global book trade. It's widely used on an international level and provides more accuracy for classification. And, it works for commercial trade, academic, and library markets, as well as print, audio, and e-book options.

Beyond that, Thema is a multilingual categorization system, and is translated in Korean, Japanese, and Arabic, along with both Western and Eastern EU languages. When you add Thema codes as a publisher you increase discoverability and sales for your books in the UK market and global retail markets.

Coverage of Thema by US publishers is currently very poor and using it can mean a valuable leg up when it comes to international sales. If you want your books to be discovered globally, choosing to use both BISAC and Thema is vital.

Major UK retailers such as Waterstones, Kobo, WH Smith, Blackwell's and Amazon UK are already using Thema, and you can help your book rise to the top and get noticed if you move to that categorization system or include it along with BISAC. It's also easier to get your book categorized in US and international libraries when you have Thema data attached, which will encourage more libraries to purchase books from your publishing company.

Best Practices for Thema Usage

To get the most value out of Thema, and help bookstores and readers do the same, there are some best practices that are important for you to follow. Here are a few of the main ways to use Thema the most efficiently and effectively.

Use Both Thema and BISAC

Since Thema is used internationally and BISAC is used in the US, it's best to incorporate both into the categorization details of any books you publish. That gives your books the most visibility in the largest number of markets, allowing you to increase awareness of what you're offering and provide readers with the details they need when they're looking for books like yours.

Choose Up to 4 Thema Subject Codes

There are a number of Thema subject codes, and a specific book may fit into several of them. However, you don't want to choose so many that your book isn't categorized well. Instead, choose up to four subject codes. Anything more than that could dilute what your book is really focused on and make it harder for stores to categorize it or readers to find it. Also, make sure you choose the most specific subject code first, since that's where your book should be found the easiest.

Use Qualifiers for Time and Subject Matter Location

For fiction, you want readers to be able to find your story based on where and when it's taking place. When you use those qualifiers you make it easier for them to narrow down the information in your book. Then, they can look for historical novels, for example, or books that are set in a particular country or region.

Choose Codes for the Language the Book is About

When you use Thema language subject codes you should choose the ones for the language the book is about. You don't need to choose codes for the language the book is written in, as that's going to be categorized differently.

Use Thema for All Your Titles

Whether your book has international distribution or US distribution, you'll want to use Thema. Even if your book is only being distributed throughout the United States right now, you never know what could happen later. It may end up in international distribution, and the Thema data will already be there.

Things to Avoid When Using Thema

When you use Thema, avoid one-letter categories. You want to make sure your book is categorized in a way that readers can find it with ease. Make sure to avoid codes that are redundant or too specific. If you choose a category that's ABC, don't use AB and B and BC for the three other codes that make up your four choices. Choose different letter codes, instead.

Now that Thema is the standard for international book categorization you want to make sure all your books are including data that meet its requirements and follow its categories. Not only does that make it easier for readers to find your books, but it can also help your book make its way into stores that are looking for specific types of books to offer to their readers. That will help you increase sales and get your books noticed, so your publishing company can grow.

Mastering Thema: Essentials for Publishers
Ingram Associate

Ingram Associate

You May Also Like