Why Categorising Your Book Is Important

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Why You Must Take Care Over Your Categories

The purpose of classifying a book is to drive discovery and sales of your book. When people search online bookstores, such as Amazon, or browse them to discover new books, correctly categorizing your book means your book should appear at the right time to the right people. If you don’t classify your book correctly, it could appear in an inappropriate category, annoying the browser; it could miss out on the chance of being included in the bookstore’s marketing materials, or worse, just not appear at all to your intended audience. For an example of how this can happen on Amazon, see also-boughts inCHAPTER 12: ONLINE SALES AND AMAZON – AMAZON.

Getting these details right will give your book the best birth into the world.

Categories from Enjoying It: Candy Crush and Capitalism

These are the industry subject categories/codes, called BISAC (Book Industry Standards Advisory Committee).

There are levels of BISAC category: general categories, like "Philosophy," and sub-categories, like "Philosophy/Eastern."

Once your book has been scheduled we seed trade databases with the three categories you give us in Book Details. We do this through our Nielsen Book data and Amazon Advantage accounts in UK, and through our distributor NBN in US.

When readers start noticing your book online the initial BISAC categories are very unlikely to map exactly onto the categories in which your book is ranked on Amazon, Google, Apple and other retailers. Once active readers start searching for your book, browsing for it in a category, landing on its page, pre-ordering and ordering, the automated search engine algorithms kick in, track customers' browse paths and buying patterns and override the BISAC we supply. This process is highly automated, and categories vary by retailer and by region. In some categories, like History, Amazon's sub-categories will go deeper than the BISAC.

You can recommend changes to to bibliographic data, including your paperback categories, on Amazon.com via an Author Central account; you can request additional categories or removal. You cannot change Kindle categories on Amazon.com. For Amazon UK, if your browse categories are wildly wrong, please contact us through the Author Forum in Sales & Distribution/Sales Online; we can ask Amazon to change categories for your paperback and also the Kindle version of the book in the UK. However, be warned, Amazon will remove a category more easily than add one; changes can take several weeks to feed through and aren’t guaranteed.


  • Top category: The most important category is the top one, and it has to be a “deep sub-category,” and will be used on the back cover. Drilling down into and choosing the narrowest most relevant categories will give your book its best chance of being discovered by search engines, trade buyers and readers. Many accounts will not consider books that are in a general category. Nor if the sub-category "general" is used. Librarians and data-inputters also need a sub-category to enter the book.
  • Other categories: The second and third categories are for other areas that you feel could be relevant in marketing, e.g. the book could cover Religion or Education as well as Philosophy. You can use either general headings here or sub-categories.
  • Selecting a category: As far as shops go, we can only get books into one category. We can only sell to one buyer. We cannot, for instance, sell one title to both the "Travel" and the "Autobiography" buyer. That is the case for all publishers. The information goes out only with one sub-category.
  • Sub-category: As far as Amazon and online sales go, the sub-category is key. Ideally, you want a low-competition, high-demand niche, in which your book will rise up the sales rankings and so gain attention. Ideally, choose categories where there are less than a thousand or so competitors. Or perhaps one where your book could rank high, another where it will be seen by more readers. And then the blurb or edited description needs to hit the right emotional buttons, showing that you and we know your brand and typical reader. If you say “This book has no niche, no category, it’s unique,” then it won't sell.
  • You may find publications, bloggers and industry professionals using abbreviations for certain genres and categories. We have a list of the most commonly used in Appendices: Common publishing abbreviations.

If you do not enter a category we will do it for you, but authors usually have a closer knowledge of their particular market than the marketing assistant.

To add a category

  • Click on the blue “+add category.”
  • Tick on the + to show sub-category.
  • Click on the deepest, most relevant sub-category.
  • Choose two more.
  • You can change the order by clicking “up” and “down.”
  • You cannot "mix and match" main categories and sub-categories, this is a standard listing that the trade uses.
  • The categories are "locked" when the book goes into production, and then you can no longer change them.

Click on + add category to reveal the various categories.

Look for the deepest, most relevant category.