A Peek At iBooks Metadata

It’s in iTunesMetadata.plist.

And here is what it looks like for the Winnie the Pooh ePub eBook.

See it after the break.

I’ve highlighted bits in red. Discussion of those afterwards. Click to make larger.

It’s clear Apple didn’t put any special effort into accommodating books.

ArtistName for writer? In a general sense, I suppose. But in a broader sense, this is terrible. How to distinguish metadata between an artist who is, for instance, a singer and one who is a writer?

Yeah, there’s the additional Kind = eBook, but still. This reveals there is no real book thinking — or any real metadata — thinking — happening at Apple.

And what’s up with Genre = Fiction? Does Genre ID = 10081 map to that? Where do things such as Children’s Literature or even a subcategory for Children come in? I don’t see even the basics of an MLS at work here.

A pageCount field is interesting. But it makes me wonder how that pagination is arrived at? Is it using a specific default typeface and typesize when rendered in iBooks on the iPad? If iPhone — perhaps, it’s when, not if — gets iBooks this summer, I doubt that pageCount will reflect how many “pages” appear on the smaller iPhone screen. This is just me wondering, however, about how that number is generated. The issue of page count itself in electronic/digital books is an argument in itself being played out on many other sites.

What’s intriguing to me is the Explicit field. Does this indicate there will be room for Derek Raymond in the iBookstore? I hope so.

So, this is what’s being done right now. I think over at Google they are breathing a sigh of relief, if not smirking. This is, to be charitable, primitive.

Let’s have the librarians and metadata specialists leave Comments.

Previously here:

The ePub eBooks Metadata Mess

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5 responses to “A Peek At iBooks Metadata

  1. This kind of limited input is fairly standard for ebook retailers–and POD printers as well. Not one allows full access to the BISAC code so you can select the most appropriate one for a particular book, and most don’t allow you to have more than one assigned.

    Fictionwise, for example, has no listing whatever for GLBT fiction. We’ve complained about it for years, to no avail. In a way, it benefits the authors, since the books are listed by general category (mystery, SF, whatever) so there’s no “ghettoization,” but there’s also no way for someone looking for gay fiction to find it easily, other than by using it in a keyword search.

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  3. Romance is a genre that can probably have more possible metadata associated with it than any other category, too!

  4. Andrew Meit

    Thanks again for the research.
    Wow. All Apple is going to do is screw up ebooks for those who care about reading. Kindle will make hay over this easily. Jeff reads, Jobs skims. So it appears. Difference shows. Amazon helps one to drill down to the book subject one is seeking easily. Itunes is an executive summary. Jobs, return to your school roots, please. He gets multimedia well. I want iReader, not just an ibook.
    Btw, I hear there is hilighting in ibook but its only as a bookmark tool, not to collect quotes for research/summaries.
    Giving Winnie the pooh is great, but a free copy of 1984 would have been better, really. When in high school I had to read 1984; it changed my life.
    I suspect a lot of people are going to have to write to Apple to fix the screw ups.
    I want an iPad that will empower me to READ, deeply, widely, and interactively. Now. Kindle will take a least 2 years. ;-)

  5. Well, and what about books that have a separate artist? (comics, picture books, etc.) an artist field for each one? Difference between artist and author? WTF?