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BISAC Subject Headings, 2015 Edition: Two New Sections Added

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IBPA received the following information from Connie Harbison, Chair of the Book Industry Study Group’s Subject Codes Committee, and wanted to share it with our members. It includes information about some exciting new changes to the BISAC Subject Headings list.

[Don’t forget to follow @BISAC_Subjects on Twitter.]

In November of 2015, the Subject Codes Committee released the twenty-first edition of the BISAC Subject Codes. The changes proposed to the 2014 Edition marked one of the most significant revisions that the list has undergone from one edition to another. The 2015 Edition includes: 512 heading additions; 75 literal changes; and 18 code inactivations. Most of these changes are the result of the addition of two new sections for Young Adult Fiction and Young Adult Nonfiction (encompassing 446 new headings).

A meme created by Subject Codes Committee Chair, Connie Harbison. Bet you never thought you'd see a BISAC meme!

A meme created by Subject Codes Committee Chair, Connie Harbison. Bet you never thought you’d see a BISAC meme!

The addition of these new sections has been a topic discussed by the committee many times over the past decade. Through hours of discussion, research and special meetings, the committee always came back to the conclusion that the change would be too disruptive to those using the codes. Despite the issues faced, the need for young adult codes continued to resurface and finally reached a boiling point in 2014.

The Subject Committee met several times in February to discuss scenarios for creating YA sections, with the final recommendation being to add two new sections (Young Adult Fiction and Young Adult Nonfiction), while leaving the Juvenile Fiction and Juvenile Nonfiction sections intact. Two town hall meetings were held in March of 2015 during which Connie Harbison, Chair of the Subject Codes Committee, presented four scenarios that could potentially resolve the perceived problem (including that which the Committee had agreed to stand behind). Attendees were given the opportunity to ask questions and express concerns over changes. The town hall meetings were well attended (both the in-person one and the webinar one) and generated a lively discussion on the topic. Ultimately, it was agreed that the benefits of creating the new sections outweighs the difficulty of the work involved in the implementation process.

Discussion of the 2015 Edition of the BISAC Subject Codes, which includes the addition of the young adult headings, was closed in September of 2015. While awaiting final release of this edition, the committee will meet in November to begin drafting its goals for the 2016 edition. These goals will include continued review of the juvenile and young adult headings to ensure that those sections are meeting the needs of users.

The complete BISAC Subject Headings List, 2015 Edition (last updated November 2015) can be found here.


About BISG

bisgThe Book Industry Study Group’s (BISG’s) Subject Codes Committee maintains the BISAC Subject Headings, Merchandising Themes, Regional Themes, and provides guidance on the implementation and use of the lists by publishers, retailers, and other interested parties.

BISG is the leading book trade association for standardized best practices, research and information, and education and events. BISG facilitates connections and conversations to solve common problems, advance new ideas, and more profitably bring published content to readers.

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