If I told you a secret cabal of the comics industry’s most important players had been working behind the scenes for years to implement an important change for how comics are sold, your ears would perk up, right?
But if I told you this change was to get expanded BISAC codes for kids and YA graphic novels they’d probably perk right down again, right?
Well, trust me, this story on how BISAC has expanded their codes is a BIG DEAL. BISAC stands for Book Industry Study Group (I know, I know) and they act to do thinks like standardize book categories for booksellers, and standardize other best practices. In 2002 BISG was entrated by comcis industry experts — including no one less than Art Spiegelman – to give graphic novels their own BISAC codes, and while this sounds hopelessly in the weeds, it was breaking out sales like this that helped show the explosive growth of manga and other GNs in the early 21st century.
A similar campaign has been underway for kids graphic novels for some time — because they aren’t broken out as clearly, sales are harder to track and the explosive growth in that category isn’t that clear . But now:
Beginning in January 2017 the new BISAC subject headings will include 11 new graphic novel headings for the Juvenile Fiction category, two for Juvenile Nonfiction, 13 for Young Adult Fiction (with science fiction and fantasy split into two separate headings) and two for Young Adult
Matthew Poulter, director of membership for the Children’s Book Council, said the new BISAC codes were suggested by the CBC’s Graphic Novel Advisory Group and will allow publishers to describe the content of graphic novels more precisely.
“The current BISAC codes governing children’s graphic novels seemed to be inadequate to cover the wealth of titles being published properly,” Poulter said. “Children’s graphic novels make up about 15% of total graphic novel sales and are the fastest-growing segment of the graphic novel industry. More graphic novels are being published for kids and teens and the codes pertaining to this genre were not necessarily keeping pace with this growth.”
These new numbers will help both bookstores and libraries categories this growing field of GNS and show how the category is growing. It will help with getting separate sections for kids graphic novels in libraries and bookstores and in general have them taken more seriously.
This is a change that a lot of publishers have been working on behind the scenes for a couple of years and it’s a very, very good thing. I believe the children are our future.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.