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Oct. 30, 2008, 7:50 a.m.

Who will be the IMDB for books?

A plea for better metadata in book publishing, wondering who will be the industry’s IMDB.

Not everyone chooses a film because of who directs it or who the screenwriter was, but some of us do, and now with databases like IMDB we can easily find lists of films containing the actors we like, or directors and discover more things we might like to watch. I think books can be the same. Currently I don’t get to know who edits each book, or acquires the rights, but if I did I might start to follow their work. Authors need not be the only brands. Publishers can establish a brand identity the way imprints used to. Most will have to start over as they’ve diluted any meaning they ever had.

We all know superstar journalists who have established similar brands. Newspapers typically encourage it for columnists, and by default discourage it for reporters. What if newspapers made it trivially easy to be told every time there’s a new story by ace reporter Jane Doe? Or a big project edited by the local Pulitzer winner? Or a new photo shot by your brilliant portraitist? And papers promoted those individual talents accordingly?

Joshua Benton is the senior writer and former director of Nieman Lab. You can reach him via email (joshua_benton@harvard.edu) or Twitter DM (@jbenton).
POSTED     Oct. 30, 2008, 7:50 a.m.
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