What Is a Book Category

Glossary > Book Category

💬 Definition of a Book Category:

In publishing terms, category is a broad term that refers to general aspects of the book's audience and content. Categories are shelf headings that orient the library readers or buyers in bookstores.

Related questions about book categories:

Is “category” the same as “genre”?

The main difference between genre and category is that the latter says nothing explicitly about the content of the book.

  • Category, in general, is fiction or nonfiction. From there, you would breakdown into genres. Categories say nothing about the content of the work and mainly refer to whether the book's content is true or fictional.
  • Genres say what the book is about. There are five main genres: Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action Adventure/Thriller, Mystery, Horror/Dystopian, and Children's.

Why is categorization important?

Accurate categorization helps the publisher or the self-published author label the correct metadata. It is essential for the readers because it matches their expectations and directly contributes to meeting that crowd of buyers all authors hope for. It also answers the question some authors have: where will it be placed in the bookstore or an online retailer?

Categorization information is only complete with the book genre information, which offers a more in-depth understanding of the book. 

What is BISAC?

BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications) is the widest accepted categorization system developed by the Book Industry Study Group and is regularly updated to keep up with the trends in publishing. It combines classic categorization with book genres and tells you where you can find a certain book; respectively, you can browse a category with its subcategory to reach the niche you are interested in. Nailing the categorization system, especially for self-published authors, is essential for meeting the right audience and boosting sales. 

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