From The Bookseller:
Supply chain organisation BIC (Book Industry Communication) has urged publishers to stop using “hugely confusing” blurb material in title and subtitle metadata fields.
BIC has noticed that publishers and other metadata providers are using the subtitle, and sometimes the title fields, in metadata feeds to carry marketing and promotional text, for example, phrases such as “Sunday Times Best Seller”, “Gripping read from…”, “The Richard & Judy Book Club thriller 2017”, and “Man Booker prize winner”.
Such promotional text is “not wanted” by retailers or libraries and is “hugely confusing” for the book buyer, said the organisation, adding that using such information in the subtitle field could adversely affect accreditation of the publisher or metadata provider in the future.
“It is important for discoverability, good customer experience and an efficient data supply chain that these data fields reflect only the true title and subtitle text that appears on the title page”, BIC said in a statement. “The valuable promotional text should be included in separate and dedicated promotional text fields, and all metadata recipients, including wholesalers and retailers, should be using these fields appropriately.”
The organisation has slammed the “significant escalation” of this practice over the last 12 months, which it says is “confusing and misleading” for consumers trying to make a buying decision. The practice is also having an adverse effect on supply chain efficiency because removing the unwanted text incurs extra costs and is time consuming for retailers and aggregators.
Link to the rest at The Bookseller
This sounds like keyword stuffing, an ancient (in internet years) SEO tactic for improving Google rankings for web pages. The practice involved adding lots of popular search terms (sometimes in metadata or in invisible or difficult for humans to see form – white words on a white background) into a web page to rank higher in Google search results and thus garner more traffic. Example: “Sexy, sexy, sexy, sexy bagels”
PG is a little surprised it has taken so long for British publishers to attempt to game the system in this particular manner.
The solution to this problem is also ancient – ding the offenders with lower rankings in search results or don’t show them at all.