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BIC reminds industry of date for BIC Standard Subject Categories scheme end-of-life.

Press Release
Wednesday 22nd February 2023

London, UK

Further to its 2022 announcement, BIC today issued a reminder to the UK book industry that the outdated BIC Standard Subject Categories scheme (BSSC) is being made obsolete by the end of February 2024, as it continues its efforts to encourage the UK book industry to fully adopt Thema (the international, multi-lingual subject category scheme for the global book trade) in its place. 

Originally conceived in the mid-1990s, the BSSC scheme has been used successfully by publishers and retailers for around 25 years. However, the current version (2.1) was last updated in November 2010 and has not been altered in any material way since, meaning that the concepts, detailed headings, and notes are now 12 years out of date. In February 2017, BIC purposefully froze the development of the BSSC scheme and has endorsed Thema as its superior replacement ever since. 

In its press release on this topic 12 months ago, BIC highlighted the benefits of formally making the BSSC scheme obsolete, the most significant of these being:

  • Elimination of costs in the UK industry that are associated with support for two parallel schemes,
  • Enabling the industry to move away from using some outdated BSSC scheme concepts and headings that social change has made inappropriate,
  • Removal of the time and resource involved in mapping from/to BSSC codes to/from Thema and other national classification codes,
  • Elimination of classification ‘approximations’ and the ‘category drift’ that comes with use of such mappings,
  • Actively encouraging a greater adoption of the Thema standard across the industry.

The February 2024 deadline – some seven years after BIC endorsed Thema as the preferred scheme for the UK trade – is intended to provide sufficient notice to the industry and allow stakeholders time to make the necessary changes to their systems and workflows. 

February 2024 will see the following changes take place: 

  • Removal of the BSSC scheme online code browser at and all related documentation from the BIC website,
  • Cessation of BIC support with regards to any queries pertaining to the BSSC scheme,
  • Deprecation of BIC codes within ONIX,
  • Appropriate adjustments made to the BIC Metadata Excellence Accreditation Award with regards to BSSC codes: Thema has already been made mandatory at all levels of award for the revised scheme (starting July 2022).

In light of this announcement, and to support the industry through this transition, BIC launched a new webinar series: “BIC Brunches: The Thema Sessions” with EDItEUR (the organisation responsible for maintaining the Thema standard) which began in March 2022 and will continue throughout the transition period to February 2024. Seven sessions have been recorded so far, and can now be viewed on BIC’s YouTube channel via the Thema Sessions playlist.

Recorded session topics include: 

  • Adult Fiction
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Children, Teenage and Educational Material
  • Popular Non-Fiction 
  • Academic Titles 
  • Comic Books, Graphic Novels and Manga
  • A Guided Tour of What’s New in Thema version 1.5 

BIC strongly recommends that users of the BSCC scheme who have not yet implemented Thema, begin doing so as soon as possible during this transition period ahead of the February 2024 deadline. A free-to-use mapping from BIC to Thema codes is available from the EDItEUR website – this is primarily intended for assigning Thema codes to backlist titles. To help further with this transition, BIC has now published a set of Thema implementation FAQs to its website.

BIC will be scheduling more in-depth Thema training sessions between now and February 2024. The next is on April 25th, and further reminders and updates will be released in the run up to the final deadline. 

Additional help and resources: 

End of press release

About BIC: BIC is a not-for-profit members organisation working at the heart of the UK book industry to promote supply chain efficiency in all sectors of the book world through e-commerce, best practice, training, events, and the application of standards. BIC helps organisations become more efficient, save money, become less wasteful and ultimately greener. Holding a unique position of trust, BIC facilitates UK and international industry-wide collaboration, reaching agreement on dependable standards and best practice in the supply chain. Find out more at and follow via @bic1uk 

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