By: Liz Tousey, Librarian and OverDrive Collection Development Analyst.

Have you heard that we’ve added BISAC subject headings for some of our most popular content? Even if you have, read on anyway. You may have a few questions that can be answered below!


BISAC Background Information

An abbreviation for “Book Industry Standards and Communications,” BISAC subject headings are two to four-word phrases, listed in order from general to specific, used to describe books. The headings for each title are created by the publisher, and are based on a vocabulary provided and maintained by the Book Industry Study Group’s Subject Codes Committee. The list of possible headings is revised yearly, with updates and additions released every December. For the time being, the list is only available in English and is used for books written in English. Below are a few general terms and examples.

Major Heading: first, most general level
Example: Fiction

Tree: first and second levels
Example: Fiction / Romance

Branch: a distinctive third or fourth level
Example: Fiction / Romance / Historical / Regency

BISAC and Marketplace

BISAC headings are visible in both the search results and title details pages, and appear just below the audience and subject information. You’ll quickly notice that not all titles have BISAC headings, but most books from major publishers should have them. Currently, partners can only see the headings in Marketplace, but they’ll soon be visible on OverDrive-powered websites.

If you would like to search whole or partial BISAC headings, you can easily do so in the quick search bar at the top of the page in Marketplace. However, at this time, we do not yet have any limiting facets in the left navigation bar, or menu options in the Basic and Advanced Searches. But if you would like those options or others, please let us know. The more feedback we get, the better we can prioritize new Marketplace updates. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Account or Collection Development Specialists, whose contact information can be handily found in the Support section of Marketplace.

Interesting BISAC Examples

FICTION / Media Tie-In

FICTION / Mystery & Detective / Cozy

JUVENILE FICTION / Animals / Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Creatures

YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Romance / Clean & Wholesome

BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Presidents & Heads of State

COOKING / Courses & Dishes / Brunch & Tea Time

Helpful Links

BISAC Tutorial and FAQ @ the BISG website

Complete List of BISAC Subject Headings, 2015 Ed.