How do readers find books today? In many respects, in the same ways we always have: word-of-mouth recommendations from friends, suggestions from trusted sources such as booksellers or media reviews, and impulse buys based on visceral reactions to dust jackets or cover blurbs.

But we’re also discovering books in very new ways. For one thing, our filters are shifting. Newspaper review sections are shrinking, and there are fewer independent bookstores hand-selling books. But it’s the Internet that’s really changed everything, the way it has in every sector. The web is where we go to find things, and increasingly it’s where we go to find books. Whether we buy them online or not, we look up books on Amazon or other major retailers’ sites, we join online book communities, we read blogs, we share links to books that catch our interest, and we discover books while searching or browsing online.

Without good data, readers won’t discover your books online

It used to be that a press release or catalogue information was the foundation of a publisher’s marketing plan. No more. Now it’s the metadata: the title information that publishers send into the world about their books. Good data registers a book’s availability throughout the supply chain, it allows the book to be presented on retailer websites, and it primes the awareness pump for search engines, bloggers, online book communities, media, and readers of all kinds.

Unless the metadata attached to your titles is solid and deep, your books will get lost in a sea of information on the web. Good data makes it easier for people to find and buy books. Bad data makes books invisible in a crowded marketplace where Canadian authors are competing online against foreign authors who often have much bigger marketing machines behind them.

What kinds of information make for good data?

First of all, the basics: book jacket, accurate pricing, a book description, etc. You need to get these right before anything else. Above all, you need to be responsible for your data to ensure its accuracy and completeness and to be the authoritative source of information about your books – as opposed to leaving it to someone else to figure out or fix. It’s too valuable a resource to be treated any other way.

Once the basics are covered, it’s time for some creative thinking. What other information might you include in your data file that would help readers – or librarians, or educators – find your books? How about expanded author information such as a detailed bio, a photo, and the author’s nationality? Or rich descriptive content like review quotes, extended book descriptions, or excerpts? Was the book nominated for an award or even win some hardware? Get it into the data feed.

Every publisher has this rich content and information, but relatively few include it in their data feeds.

ReaderBound can help you improve your data

At ReaderBound, we make data fun. Yes, we said that. Data = fun. Every ReaderBound deployment includes a comprehensive data audit. We take a close look at the data you’re sending out now and we work with you to make it better. That way, your books get the best possible representation across all the different places they live online, whether it’s in bookstores, social media, blogs, or elsewhere.

A ReaderBound data audit sets the stage for a website that is not just attractive, but powerful. Your books become more real, more discoverable, and easier for readers to explore, connect with, and share.