On an online platform for ebooks that you would use to search, sort, and save online entity of your books (like goodreads, scribd etc.), what meta data fields would be handy to have available for a book? Or it can be a comicbook, magazine, or audiobook.

author, title, upvotes, cover, published date, ISBN...

Equally important, what kind of metadata fields not to show in order to avoid complexity of website to the user, and to avoid irrelevancy or to avoid creating distance to actual reading experience?

  • 1
    Your question is not very clear, you could try to rephrase it in order to make it more understandable.
    – Sekhemty
    Oct 23, 2015 at 15:58
  • Ok. I will try.
    – sçuçu
    Oct 23, 2015 at 16:01
  • I would suggest the use of commas where appropriate. I do not understand how the word entity relates to the part of the sentence coming before it.
    – babou
    Jan 7, 2016 at 21:57

3 Answers 3


If I understand correctly, you are asking a multi-faceted question; on how metadata hurts or helps your website and ebook content.

I apologize in advance- if some of this information is repetitive or overly descriptive. I'm providing as many descriptions, references and links as possible, in order to provide as thorough an answer as possible. Thanks.

Webpage Optimization

1. What is Metadata:

Metadata is "data about data".[1] Two types of metadata exist: structural metadata and descriptive metadata. Structural metadata is data about the containers of data. Descriptive metadata uses individual instances of application data or the data content. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metadata

Your question concerning the platform or website metadata is in relation to the "descriptive" purpose of the metadata properties, so let us focus on that aspect for the website only and not the ebook for now.

Metadata "Web Page" Specific:

Web pages often include metadata in the form of meta tags. Description and keywords in meta tags are commonly used to describe the Web page's content. Meta elements also specify page description, key words, authors of the document, and when the document was last modified.[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metadata#Web_pages

Metadata Elements or "Tags"

Meta elements are tags used in HTML or XHTML documents to provide structured metadata about a Web page. They are part of a web page's head section. Multiple Meta elements with different attributes can be used on the same page. Meta elements can be used to specify page description, keywords and any other metadata not provided through the other head elements and attributes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meta_element

First Clue

The Metadata Web Page & Elements or Tags section, provides us a beginning to an answer.

"...authors of the document, and when the document was last modified."

Second Clue

"Meta elements can be used to specify page description, keywords and any other metadata not provided through the other head elements and attributes."

Metadata for Webpages (Partial Answer)

So this tells us at a minimum, the metadata for a webpage should contain at least,

  1. Descriptive elements for the specific page description
  2. Keywords, that relate to that page or topic in general
  3. Authors of the document
  4. When the document was last modified

for full optimization.

Metadata and Search Engine Optimization

This is where it gets tough and there is no one size fits all type of answer, because we are now asking "How do I research, find, and know which keywords to add", depending on if you are optimizing for Google, Bing, or Yahoo you may have different needs.

Search Engine Optimization

Learning about how each of these search engine services differ is important if you are trying to optimize your content. Personally, I'd recommend researching and learning about topics such as "How Predictive Keyword Searches Work", and similar SEO topics.

Here is an article to start learning about Google Predictive Keyword Search: http://searchengineland.com/how-google-instant-autocomplete-suggestions-work-62592

Keyword Optimization Tools

Luckily there are optimization tools to help with this, one such example for finding keywords that people are searching in relation to your content is http://ubersuggest.org/ to learn more you may view their website.

This becomes more complex, once you realize that you are now on the road to search engine optimization, yet you still have to optimize for the retail partners such as "Amazon", "Apple", "B&N", "Kobo", "Google Play", etc. and other third party platforms as you mentioned such as "goodreads, scribd".

And it may be helpful to dig into the metadata keywords and descriptions of these retailers for knowing how to optimize for each or possibly all.

As an example, looking at B&N's website source code gives us some insight to consider:

<meta name="HandheldFriendly" content="True">
<meta name="MobileOptimized" content="320">
<meta name="format-detection" content="telephone=no">
<meta name="author" content="Barnes &amp; Noble">
<title>Barnes & Noble | Barnes &amp; Noble</title>
<meta name="description" content="Lower Prices on Millions of Books, Movies and TV Show DVDs and Blu-ray, Music, Toys, and Games. Shop online for eBooks, NOOK, and textbooks. FREE Shipping on $25 orders!" />
<meta name="keywords" content="Books, Movies and TV, DVD, Blu-ray, Music, Toys, Games, eBooks, NOOK, textbooks" />
<meta name="twitter:card" content="summary" />
<meta name="twitter:site" content="@BNBuzz" />
<meta property="og:title" content="Barnes & Noble"/>
<meta name="description" content="Lower Prices on Millions of Books, Movies and TV Show DVDs and Blu-ray, Music, Toys, and Games. Shop online for eBooks, NOOK, and textbooks. FREE Shipping on $25 orders!" />
<meta property="og:description" content="Lower Prices on Millions of Books, Movies and TV Show DVDs and Blu-ray, Music, Toys, and Games. Shop online for eBooks, NOOK, and textbooks. FREE Shipping on $25 orders!"/>
<meta property="og:type" content="product"/>
<meta property="og:url" content="http://www.barnesandnoble.com"/>
<meta property="og:image" content="http://dispatch.barnesandnoble.com/content/dam/ccr/social/BN_facebook_1200x630.jpg"/>
<meta property="og:site_name" content="Barnes &amp; Noble"/>
  1. Author Metadata Description

    <meta name="author" content="Barnes &amp; Noble">
  2. Web Page Description

    <meta name="description" content="Lower Prices on Millions of Books, Movies and TV Show DVDs and Blu-ray, Music, Toys, and Games. Shop online for eBooks, NOOK, and textbooks. FREE Shipping on $25 orders!" />
  3. Web Page Keywords

    <meta name="keywords" content="Books, Movies and TV, DVD, Blu-ray, Music, Toys, Games, eBooks, NOOK, textbooks" />

To view a websites source code, right-click on the webpage and choose, "View Page Source", or other similar wording depending on your browser.

I am using Chrome. If you are using Chrome you can type this into the browser search bar:


Another Clue or Partial Answer

Now we know B&N has keywords and descriptions we may use, that will help optimize our content for that particular retailer; such as, "Books", "eBooks", "textbooks", and "NOOK".

We should at the very least use those four keywords in our description and keyword metadata if we want our webpage to be optimized in relation to B&N.

How exactly does this work? (in simplified terms)

  1. Google crawls website #1 with their web bots and based on the metadata and content, discerns how this website relates to the rest of the world wide web, and categorizes/ranks it accordingly.

  2. Google crawls website #2 with their web bots and based on the metadata and content, finding the metadata and content similar to website #1, they will categorize and rank it in relation to website #1.

Once Google or other similar Search Engine starts putting it together that you are a piece of the ebook, publishing, network/puzzle per se on the WWW then it will further associate you with the search results related.

The further you research and find other keywords and phrases people are using to search for your content the better you can optimize.

This is one example but you would do this for each search engine, retailer, ebook, etc. depending on how much time and resources you wish to devote on getting your content more visible...

eBook Metadata Optimization

** For all your industry standards this website should be viewed at the very least:

"Trade and Standards Organization for the Digital Publishing Industry"

  1. International Digital Publishing Forum: http://idpf.org/


  1. http://www.editeur.org/2/About/ & http://www.editeur.org/8/ONIx/

    EDItEUR is the international group coordinating development of the standards infrastructure for electronic commerce in the book, e-book and serials sectors. EDItEUR provides its membership with research, standards and guidance in such diverse areas as:

    • Bibliographic and product information for the book, e-book and serials sectors
    • EDI and other e-commerce transaction standards
    • The standards infrastructure for digital publishing
    • Rights management and trading

Articles to read in relation to your Question

For ease of use and quick viewing, I've quoted what I perceive as most important to answering your question from each of these articles, but I highly recommend reading the full articles and even researching more for full comprehension on this subject since the subject is a whole industry in itself.

Digital Book World

  1. http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2015/using-metadata-to-go-beyond-the-ebook/

Metadata is a term publishers love or hate but can’t avoid. As metadata expert Renée Register has explained in a recent series of Digital Book World webcasts and blog posts, metadata refers quite simply to what you want the world to know about your books and provides a structure for helping them come to know it.

When you want to sell your book online, the metadata will not only give potential buyers technical information such as the specifications, publication date, ISBN and list price, it will also be the magic that enables your book to be discovered online by customers who search for it. And this is all the more important for digital editions that can’t be hand-sold in bookstores.

So when publishers ask themselves what technical metadata essentials they need to know in order to give their titles the best chances of success, the question they’re really asking is how they want to sell them. After all, metadata isn’t just a formula to be rigorously followed; it’s a tool publishers can—and should—adapt more creatively in order to experiment with different approaches to online bookselling.

  1. http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/when-bad-ebook-metadata-is-good-or-not/

Imagine hundreds or even thousands of crazed readers can’t wait for an ebook title to be available for sale. And when it finally is, they go to Amazon and other retailers to buy it. But they buy the wrong ebook instead.

When you’re Stephen King, those lost sales on an ebook edition for your print-only novel Joyland (Hard Case Crime) doesn’t make or break you. But if you’re Emily Schultz, the Canadian author of the 2006 literary fiction novel Joyland (ECW), those sales can be a huge windfall. (King’s Joyland came out in print last June and as an ebook this past April.)

In October of last year, Schultz’s Joyland ebook was seeing an unexpected bump in sales — some 200 copies the week the King book came out. Those and subsequent sales provided Schultz with a pile of pocket money and she’s chronicling how she is spending it at her new Tumblr blog stephenkingmoney.tumblr.com. So far, she has spent just over $400 on things like a fancy dinner, more books and a haircut for her husband. She wouldn’t tell me just how much she has made (but hinted that it would be revealed on the blog eventually) but her take may be higher than you expect — she has a 50% royalty on the ebook, roughly double the going rate when working with a publisher...

Further in the article

... While Schultz’s story is certainly atypical, it underscores the power and importance of metadata. Could better metadata, that is — keywords, descriptions, etc. — have saved at least some readers from finding or buying the wrong book, at least one or two of the disaffected ones who subsequently left negative reviews (residual metadata from this episode)? Is there something now that can be done in the metadata that will mitigate the effects of the negative reviews?

eBook Metadata Clues from above articles & quotes

Now we know at minimum what is important for eBook metadata:

  • Technical information such as the specifications

  • Publication Date

  • ISBN

  • List price

As the article states metadata is a tool and not a rigorous formula but it is instead to be used as needed.

See here at the Book Publishing company I work for we have over 180+ different nodes of metadata that we accept for ebook metadata because we provide service for all online ebook retailers each requiring different specifications.

So, I apologize that this answer cannot give you 2+2=4 straight forward approach, but as you can see there is a lot involved with the question you asked.

Other Related Articles

  1. http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/using-metadata-to-market-books-build-audience-and-control-your-future/
  2. http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/metadata-a-strong-business-advantage-in-bookselling/

Final Thoughts && Conclusion

Working in this industry for almost three years now has allowed me to see first hand how metadata effects sales and performance of titles at various retailers.

Metadata is very relevant, important and constantly growing more complex in this industry.

Metadata is an industry of it's own in this field.

Conclusion: If you follow all of this advice, I am certain it will help clarify the subject of metadata, will provide you the correct steps to take to perform the research and development needed; ultimately providing you a solution for your question.


When trying to determine what metadata should be appropriate for a project, a good starting base is the Dublin core, which was designed as a common base appropriate for a large number of situation. This is thus even more recommended if you want meta data for an heterogeneous set of resources.

Of course, you may want to adapt it a bit what you have more clearly identified resources that you want to characterize with the metadata. For example, the identifier of a book can be the ISBN.

The Dublin core standard gives you a fairly limited list of 15 types of metadata, and also standard names for others that are often used. It is pretty much up to you to determine what metadata are really useful for the purposes of your users, as only you know what services you wish to offer.

It may be wise to architecture your software so that you can easily modify it by adding or removing a given type of metadata, as may appear necessary when your plateform is being used.

What kind of metadata not to show is an inappropriate question, since this is clearly an infinite set. For example metadata could include the number of pages of the first edition, or the physical size these pages, or the birth date of the author.


I'm referring to metadata available in EPUB books as an example. Websites distributing ebooks often read ebook metadata to be used for searching and display.

  • There are original publish dates, and digital publish dates. So when a book is originally published in 1804, then Gutenberg digitizes it in 2014, you have 2 different dates. Most users will want to search on the original publish date, not the digitized date.
  • There can be multiple author fields in an EPUB too, along with multiple SUBJECT fields. Many non-fiction books will have multiple subjects. So a history book on WW2 might have these subjects: WW2, World War 2, history, war, Germany, America, Britain.
  • There is also a book description field.
  • There is also a copyright field which can be a whole paragraph of the type of copyright this book is under, if any.

It's important to include all authors because major book sellers, and library catalogs, read the EPUB metadata. I've seen studies with 20+ authors. If the study is in an EPUB and only author A is in the EPUB metadata, the study will not show up in search results if I search for author B.

The same applies to subjects. Library catalogs often have books under multiple but related subjects. See WW2 example above.

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