How to Use Thema Subject Codes

Thema subject codes are an international classification system used to categorize books based on content and subject matter. Thema codes offer a universal language that facilitates more efficient distribution, marketing, and discovery of books across worldwide platforms and markets. Understanding and utilizing Thema subject codes can significantly enhance your title’s global visibility. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts when using Thema.

Use both BISAC and Thema for global visibility: While BISAC codes are commonly used in the North American market, utilizing Thema codes for the rest of the world (ROW) market ensures global visibility.

Use up to three Thema subject codes: Selecting up to three subject codes allows for nuanced classification, providing readers with a clear understanding of the book’s primary themes and topics.

List the primary subject code first: Place the primary subject code first to clearly indicate the focus or theme of the book.

Use qualifier codes: Qualifier codes are used in conjunction with subject codes and help to refine the subject categories. Examples of qualifier codes:
-- Place qualifier codes should be used to convey either the setting for a fiction title or a particular place for a nonfiction title.

-- Time period qualifier codes should be used to express a particular time period in which a book is set (fiction) or about (nonfiction).

-- Language qualifier codes should be used to convey the language that the book is about, not the language in which the book is written. i.e. For a book written in English about how to learn French, use a French language code.

Apply Teen, Children’s, and Educational codes for Young Adult and Juvenile Titles: For YA/JUV titles, utilize appropriate Thema codes such as Teen, Children’s, and Educational categories.

Use Thema codes for titles with both international and U.S. distribution: Regardless of distribution channels, incorporate Thema codes into metadata to ensure consistent classification and discoverability across international and U.S. markets.

Don’t use one-letter codes:
Avoid using single-letter categories as Thema codes, as they lack specificity and may lead to confusion or misclassification.

Don’t use redundant or overly specific codes: Refrain from including redundant or overly specific codes that do not add significant value to the classification.

Don’t use incorrect codes: Avoid using incorrect or marginally relevant codes to get your book classified in multiple sections of a store. This scattershot approach can confuse booksellers and customers as well as make the actual subject of the book hard to identify.

Don’t use Thema Gift Book code (WZG): Avoid using the Thema Gift Book subject code (WZG) for categorizing books. It is not intended for standard book classification purposes.

For additional information on sleceting and using Thema codes, please see here. 


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