Metadata comprises all of the information about a new publication that will be included in bibliographic (library and bookseller) databases. Here’s a summary of the data fields required by database service R. R. Bowker when assigning an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) to a new book title (or edition). When you self-publish a book through Amazon Kindle, CreateSpace, Lightning Source, Ingram Spark, Smashwords, or some other platform, you typically must fill in a form that contains some or all of this data.

Book Metadata Field



The information in this table must be entered for each newly assigned ISBN. If you are entering the data into Bowker through, you can use the Clone function to duplicate most of the entries, as when setting up a record for a paperback after a hardcover has been published.

ISBN 13 / ISBN 10

International Standard Book Number – 13 digits is the current standard. Some booksellers use the old 10-digit code as an internal stock number. Self publishers obtain this number from R. R. Bowker. The prefix digits are unique to the publisher.


Title of the book, usually in the original language of copyright.


Leave blank if no Subtitle.

Main Description

Summary of the book’s subject, topic, or story – 350 words maximum. (Book catalogs may require much shorter, single-paragraph descriptions.)

Original Publication Date


Current Language(s)

Original language of publication, followed by translations.

Translated Title

Especially for books not published originally in English, the title by which English readers would search for it. (Leave blank if same as Title field.)

Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN)

Optional number typically used by databases of libraries and academic institutions. May be obtained via the LOC PCN online site.

Cover Image

Upload bitmap (e.g., JPEG) of cover art for catalog thumbnail.

Full Text

Upload PDF of the full text. This data is not published but is used for extracting keywords and building indexes.


 Author and if relevant: Editor, Illustrator, etc.


(First Name, Last Name) If used, put the middle name(s) in the First Name field. Last Name should be the legal, searchable family name (or formal pseudonym).

Birth Date

Contributor (e.g., Author) date of birth.

Death Date

Leave blank if the Author is living. Date of death is very important for estates of deceased authors because it can determine the duration of copyright (depending on the country).


International Standard Name Identifier – Famous authors and celebrities have 16-digit numbers assigned. Leave blank if you don’t have it.

Contributor Biography

Typically, the Author’s bio. Keep it concise – one or two paragraphs so it will fit on the book catalog page.


 Physical dimensions and shipping weight of a printed book. File type and file size in kilobytes of an ebook.


 See BISAC Codes.


Especially, ISBN of previous editions (if any). Volume number if part of a numbered set or series. Informal rule for new edition – has at least one-third more new content than the previous edition.


Suggested Retail Price and Currency for (optionally): US, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Spain.

Title Ship Date

The date the book will be available to ship to wholesale buyers from the printer.

On Sale Date

The date the book is authorized to go on sale from booksellers. Also known as the “street date.”


Yes or No. In general, booksellers require books to be returnable. Returns may be handled with the distributor as Ship (return to publisher) or Destroy. If the publisher opts for Destroy (does not wish to resell), the bookseller may ship the book’s cover to the distributor as proof of return and destroy the rest. Publishers must negotiate these terms with their distributors, which may charge handling fees for the service.

Sales Rights Info

Designate the author or publisher’s representative for sales and translation rights.

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