What is Thema?

Thema is a multilingual subject category scheme designed to meet the needs of publishers, retailers and trade intermediaries in all sectors of the global book publishing business. It is managed by an international group of stakeholders, and is free to use. Thema aims to enhance the merchandising, discoverability and potential sales of books by simplifying the communication of accurate and detailed subject information across international markets and reducing the need to maintain numerous national subject schemes.

Thema is a global scheme and is based on hierarchical code structures. It is a general purpose scheme and is not intended to replace specialist or library schemes but is designed to replace national general purpose book trade schemes over time. In the medium-term, the benefit is that users need only map between their own scheme and Thema, rather than to and from numerous other schemes used by trading partners.

BIC’s involvement with Thema

BIC runs the UK Thema National Group, which feeds directly into the International Thema Steering Committee.

Current version of Thema

Information and basic user instructions for Thema v.1.5 (released April 2022)

Find out what’s new for Thema v.1.5, here.

View recording of BIC Brunch webinar ‘What’s new in Thema v.1.5.’

Previous version of Thema

Information and basic user instructions for Thema v.1.4 (released April 2020)

Find out what’s new for Thema v1.4.

Thema resources

BIC is running a series of Thema BIC Brunches, view details in BIC Brunches 2022 and 2023. 

Read The Introduction to Thema BIC Bite, here.

Read our BIC Bite about Thema for Booksellers, here.

A Quick Reference for the Thema Browser can be found, here. 


Mappings from BIC to Thema and BISAC to Thema 

Libraries and Thema

Thema vs UKSLC

The UK Standard Library Categories (UKSLC) Scheme was updated in September 2019 and is now based on the international Thema subject categories, taking advantage of the new developments featured in Thema.   More information can be found here.

A Basic Guide to the Differences between Thema and UKSLC

Further reading


Embedded Job Advisors & Thema – March 2016
EDItEUR’s Graham Bell writes an article for Public Libraries News (PLN) Newsletter regarding Thema and the benefits of its use in libraries.
Read the full article here

Book Description Standard Goes Worldwide – December 2015
Nielsen’s Howard Willows (and the Chair of the UK Thema National Group) provides an update on Thema, the subject classification scheme for the global book trade.
Read the full article here

Making Cents of Subjects – December 2015
EDItEUR’s Graham Bell outlines the merits of Thema, the international and multilingual subject category scheme aiming to enhance merchandising and discoverability, reduce duplication of work and boost sales across the global book trade.
Read the full article here

Press releases

EDItEUR publishes Thema 1.0, 1st November 2013

Thema News from Frankfurt 10th October 2012

Thema support mailing list

Sign up to EDItEUR’s support mailing list for implementation questions and / or requests for clarification.

Alternatively, find out more about Thema Maintenance and Support on EDItEUR’s website