Dewey Decimal System
Anyone who has been in a UK library will have seen Dewy in action – this is the classification system used to put every book on the right shelf and is the number on the little label on a book’s spine. While it’s good to know about, it’s not the most important one for anyone in the business of selling books. It doesn’t have the commercial importance of the following three classification systems.
Thema is a categorisation system that makes books discoverable by communicating accurate and detailed subject information to publishers, retailers and the book trade. If you are looking for inspiration for a book to write, or where your book might fit in with others, this is an excellent place to start. It’s also the classification system used by the book trade in the UK, and is being adopted as the global standard for book classification, so digging around these categories will help when it comes to classifying your book for international buyers too.
If you need the clincher – this is the system that Amazon is also embracing, complementing their own, custom classification system.
A word of warning – everyone wants to write something ‘different’, but if it won’t fit into at least one of these classifications you make the book much harder to find.
BIC is the standard classification scheme for the UK book trade. BIC allows users to classify their titles precisely and assign multiple categories for books which cover multiple topics. Thema is being adopted by more and more users and will eventually replace BIC so as of February 2017 there are no new BIC categories in development.
It’s not hard to see that Thema is based on BIC by the similarity of many classification codes.
BISAC stands for Book Industry Standards and Communications and is used in North America. BISAC subject headings can determine where a book is put in a brick and mortar book store and the genres under which it can be searched for in an internal database. There are fifty-four major sections and each section has sub-topics to allow for precise categorisation.
Every country in the world deals with classifying books in a way that makes sense. Thema is set to replace many of them, and as each country joins the system, it will add its own codes that have special relevance. For those of us selling books, they are largely irrelevant – that is unless we are selling in that country. Under those circumstances, it’s very useful to explore the local categorisation system to list it with the most opportunity to be discovered.