BISAC Code and Category

Just what is a BISAC Code?

Every book that gets listed in an online system - whether it's an ebook or a paperback book - is put into a BISAC code category. The BISAC code, or Book Industry Standards and Communications, is maintained by the Book Industry Study Group. It is a way of categorizing books so they can easily be browsed or found.

Here's a sampling of some BISAC codes:

FIC027260 FICTION / Romance / Action & Adventure
FIC049060 FICTION / Romance / African American
FIC027270 FICTION / Romance / Clean & Wholesome
FIC027070 FICTION / Romance / Historical / Regency
FIC027160 FICTION / Romance / Historical / Scottish
FIC027280 FICTION / Romance / Historical / Tudor
FIC027200 FICTION / Romance / Historical / 20th Century
FIC027170 FICTION / Romance / Historical / Victorian
FIC027180 FICTION / Romance / Historical / Viking


As you can see, BISAC codes can be quite specific. They can also be general, for books which don't have that same level of specificity:

HEA002000 HEALTH & FITNESS / Aerobics
HEA027000 HEALTH & FITNESS / Allergies
HEA032000 HEALTH & FITNESS / Alternative Therapies
HEA029000 HEALTH & FITNESS / Aromatherapy
HEA003000 HEALTH & FITNESS / Beauty & Grooming

In most book systems you don't need to know the numerical code. You are presented with a drop-down list or another means of navigating and you choose from the various categories that way. But it's good to examine the BISAC codes as you prepare your book to figure out where your book best belongs. Most systems require you to choose one category for your book but a few allow you to cross-list your book in two or three different categories. This could be good if, for example, your book is about both yoga and meditation.

Google Play is one of the only systems which requires you to know an enter the actual BISAC code itself.

All the BISAC codes can, of course, be found online:

http://bisg.org/page/bisacedition

I highly recommend you go to Amazon.com and examine the categories yourself. Look at what type of books fall into each category. This can help you determine if your fantasy book is an "urban fantasy" or "dark fantasy" or "gaslamp" or something else.

In the end, the category is up to the author. You put your book where you think it best fits. You then watch the sales and the reviews to get a sense if your book does well there or if it might do better to be moved.

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