If you follow us on Facebook (our page is here), you may have seen our post a couple of weeks ago announcing that we have been awarded a BIC Award. However, you may not have known what the award is, or why we are so pleased to have been awarded it. Read on to find out…
BIC stands for Book Industry Communication and they are an organisation that ensures that everyone in the book trade, from book wholesalers to libraries, and ultimately customers and readers, can find the correct information about our books. Alongside the essential details of ISBN, title and author (without which no-one would know of the book’s existence!), the information that we submit to BIC includes basic data, such as a book’s price, availability and publication date, and enhanced data like covers, blurbs and reviews.
In their white paper report (downloadable here), Nielsen assessed the impact that supplying good quality, timely and appropriate metadata has on sales. The results prove just how effective and important data is for sales. For example, looking at the top selling 100,000 UK titles from 2011, those without complete BIC data or an image sold on average 385 copies, while those with complete data sold 2,205 copies. While we don’t expect our books to hit the bestseller lists, the principle of good data leading to higher sales is still true.
Because of the way the industry supply chain works, the sooner this information is made available the better, as it ensures that everyone from the top to the bottom knows about the book in time for its publication. In part, this explains why we don’t rush our manuscripts through production: while we could rush the actual production parts of the publication process, there is no point in doing it too speedily, as the librarians and booksellers wouldn’t have had the time to receive the information and put in their orders. In order to qualify for the BIC Award we had to ensure that BIC receives the data for 60% of our books 16 weeks in advance of publication, something that we manage comfortably, having submitted data for a whopping 94.4% of our titles on time this year!
The other part of the scheme checks that we have submitted full data for our back catalogue thus ensuring that customers can find information about any of our books, however old they are. This is the area that I really had to work on in order to reach the threshold of 80% that BIC have set. When I started work on this, nearly 2 years ago, just over 50% of our old titles had complete records (we have 1,211 records with BIC, so that’s a lot of missing data!). As we have been publishing books for over 30 years many of our older titles were published before we had digital records and so it was the older books which were bringing our average down. I have slowly updated all of our records and two years’ of spreadsheet uploads and FTP data submissions later, we have finally reached this milestone!
We join 33 other publishers (including Oxford University Press, Hodder Education and Elsevier Health Sciences) in having a BIC Award, so it is fantastic for us to be ranked among the best UK publishers at submitting product data. But we’re not resting there; I’m hoping that we’ll be able to achieve the Excellence Award next year, watch this space!