We have just announced the planned launch of IBIC for next October. IBIC is the name we have adopted for a new multilingual version of the BIC standard subject categories, on which we have been working for the past few months.
Readers of this blog will know how important we believe it is that there should be convergence among the many subject schemes which are in use around the world. IBIC may only be a small step, but it has powerful support, notably from the Spanish Publishers Association and the Italian, German and Swedish book trades and from the Arab world. At the meeting in Frankfurt where the broad structure of the new scheme was agreed, we also had representatives from Norway, Portugal and the Netherlands. We hope to have direct input to the new scheme from all these countries and more.
The BIC scheme, like its North American equivalent, was grounded in a very different book trade environment from the one we have now. It was directly aimed at the UK and was unashamedly UK-centric. We believe that the geographical and other local qualifiers which are an intrinsic part of the scheme will help us to create the local variances which an international scheme requires whilst retaining the existing structure of BIC for the main subject codes. It may be necessary to make some small changes to the subject codes themselves, but we don’t think this will cause a great deal of disruption for existing users in the UK.
We now operate in a global book market and, increasingly, a digital one. We believe this calls for a global and multilingual subject scheme to serve the needs both of resellers for online display and of consumers as they seek to discover content. We therefore see IBIC as being a first step in this direction; and at another meeting in Frankfurt we gave outline agreement to collaborate with the Book Industry Study Group in the US on a research project to explore how consumers discover what they seek and the role played by existing and possible future subject taxonomies. We are very much looking forward to this collaboration.