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Policies & Practices > are publishers imprints series?

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message 1: by willaful (new)

willaful This question keeps coming up in the other threads, so here is a place to discuss it.


message 2: by willaful (new)

willaful The particular one I brought up was romance "series" such as Harlequin Presents. These are my arguments against having them as a series:

-- One of these books may be published under numerous other imprints. The "series" name will follow that to the other editions, even though it is a completely different imprint and may have another series/imprint name and number. (For example, Harlequin Presents #2018 might also be Harlequin Medical Romance #417.)

-- Although technically numbered, the numbers are not meaningful. They are often reused, they are sometimes given out of order, and they are often in a different form on the same book. (For example, a book may be numbered #106 on the side and #1106 on the front cover.)
Aside from giving an (unreliable) idea of when the book was published, they have no relationship to each other. And you would certainly see the same number on many different books in such a list.

-- the listing would be incredibly long and cumbersome. There are thousands of these books. For a genuine related series, that might not be an argument, but these books are only related by publisher imprint.


message 3: by Nihonjoe (new)

Nihonjoe | 76 comments I don't ever see an imprint as a series. They should not ever be used as such, IMHO.


message 4: by the_cat (new)

the_cat | 388 comments It would be madness to try to list every Harlequin book or every Pan book ever published. There are awesome sites out there dedicated to those catalogs so there is no need for it.
The example that I pointed out, those Landmark books for kids,
http://www.goodreads.com/series/49757...
is a bit different cause its a limited number of books we are talking about. I can see the interest from a collector point of view. But since we cant pick 1 specific edition out of 30 for this task, IMO these collections should be simply mentioned in the "edition" field which is there for something.
My 2 cents.


message 5: by Nihonjoe (new)

Nihonjoe | 76 comments The whole point of this site is to list every book ever published, and while Harlequin and Pan are certainly prolific, their catalogs are dwarfed by the output of all the other publishers whose books we have here.


message 6: by willaful (new)

willaful No one is suggesting we don't list them, the question is whether to include them as a series: http://www.goodreads.com/series/41127...


message 7: by Patrick (last edited Aug 31, 2010 04:43PM) (new)

Patrick Brown | 102 comments How about this:
http://www.goodreads.com/series/41541...

As far as I can see, this isn't actually a series. These books were published by different publishers, and someone has compiled them into what, I think, should be a Listopia list. You can see that a few of the books actually have SF Masterworks #21, etc in the title. Is this a legitimate series? It seems more like a listopia list than a series to me. Are we in the process of deleting these? Should we try to convert this to a list?

[Edited to fix my crappy cut-and-paste job link.:]


message 8: by Nihonjoe (new)

Nihonjoe | 76 comments Unless there is some connection outside of who published them (meaning the characters are the same, or something along those lines), they should not be lumped together as a series.

Also, your second link came through incomplete. Please repost it.


message 9: by Cait (new)

Cait (tigercait) | 5005 comments All of these seem like useful series objects to me. If they're published in a collection, how is that not a series? Sure, it sounds like a chore to update the series information on all of them, but that's kind of how we have fun as librarians here, isn't it?


message 10: by Cait (last edited Aug 31, 2010 04:09PM) (new)

Cait (tigercait) | 5005 comments Patrick wrote: "How about this:

http://www.goodreads.com/series/41541

As far as I can see, this isn't actually a series."


Isn't it this series?


message 11: by Dori (last edited Aug 31, 2010 04:17PM) (new)

Dori (adorible) | 198 comments Patrick wrote: "As far as I can see, this isn't actually a series. These books were published by different publishers, and someone has compiled them into what, I think, should be a Listopia list. You can see that a few of the books actually have SF Masterworks #21, etc in the title. Is this a legitimate series? It seems more like a listopia list than a series to me. Are we in the process of deleting these? Should we try to convert this to a list?"

That's only because it is the most popular edition that appears on the series object. If you look at the other editions of those books, you can see SF Masterworks editions. Now whether or not that makes it a series is the question of the day.

Edit: I know that over in feedback it was asked if there was a way to select the specific edition for the series, but I don't know if that will get added.


message 12: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Brown | 102 comments Cait wrote: "Patrick wrote: "How about this:

http://www.goodreads.com/series/41541

As far as I can see, this isn't actually a series."

Isn't it this series?"


I guess I don't really consider that a series in the same way, say, Harry Potter is a series. The books aren't related except for the fact that someone somewhere decided they were all good. I think a list like that has value, but it seems different from the idea of a series that involves the same fictional world, etc. Perhaps my definition of a series is too narrow, though.


message 13: by Nihonjoe (new)

Nihonjoe | 76 comments Cait wrote: "Patrick wrote: "How about this:

http://www.goodreads.com/series/41541

As far as I can see, this isn't actually a series."

Isn't it this series?"


That would be more of an "editor's choice" series, not a series as we look at it (like Harry Potter, Honor Harrington, Lensman, Anne of Green Gables, etc.)


message 14: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (last edited Aug 31, 2010 06:07PM) (new)

rivka | 41663 comments Mod
Patrick wrote: "I don't really consider that a series in the same way, say, Harry Potter is a series."

IMO, that is true but irrelevant. As Cait says, and as I have been saying for some time now, they are series because their publisher has so defined them. People DO actually collect and/or do their best to read them all. A trilogy is more clearly defined than the SF Masterworks series, but so what?


This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For | 949 comments The place I would try to draw the line (and probably fail) is by distinguishing between author's intent and publisher's intent.

If an author writes a book with the idea that it is related to another book (either directly as a sequel or part of a sequence or indirectly through a shared universe) than I would call that a "series". Note: this does not have to be the same author. Thus Tokien's Middle Earth books all have a commonality intended by the author. So do Star Wars and Star Trek books, etc.

However, if a publisher takes a bunch of books never meant (by the author(s)) to be connected in any way shape or form, finds a common theme and publishes them as a group...I lean away from calling that a series.

The problem is, I can talk myself out of the second. For example, my parents have (and I will inherit one day) an early 20th century, 25 volume set of the works of Alexandre Dumas. Although these do contain a number of subseries "planned" by Dumas (e.g., the Musketeer tales), as a whole they were just all books he wrote that a publisher later put together as a set. It does seem to me that it would be "fair" to list the set as a "series" and number them 1-25...but that leads to more problems, e.g., there are other sets of his works that contain different numbers of volumes, with books in completely different orders, etc. (Not to mention the fact that volumes 1 and 2 are both actually two halves of The Count of Monte Cristo).

This leads me to a completely different conceptual way of trying to make a distinction: a series counts as a series only if designating a book as part of the series applies to *ALL* editions of the book. If a specific series concept doesn't apply to all editions it shouldn't be considered a series (in the sense we're defining here). This would eliminate something like the "Complete Works" from being a series, because it is only some editions that it would be meaningful for.

This would also help us avoid some situation where a publisher creates a series of "20th anniversary special editions" where each special edition is numbered and considered part of a series. Since this would only logically apply to a specific edition of a book, rather than the book as a whole, a series of that sort would be ignored/rejected.

I'm almost sure I can be talked out of this concept by a good counter-example if anyone has one, but it's one way to at least think about it. I'm also not sure if this latter concept would actually support or reject the SF Masterworks or the Harlequin books, but the better question is can we use it as a working concept? It'd be nice if we could come up with a definition that we are comfortable with, subject to discussion for borderline cases and potential exceptions. So far it's more like the definition of pornography: I know it when I see it.


message 16: by willaful (new)

willaful Lacking a counter example, I like it. The putting of a series label on all editions was one of my primary objections to the Harlequin books as a series.


message 17: by the_cat (new)

the_cat | 388 comments This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For wrote: "The place I would try to draw the line (and probably fail) is by distinguishing between author's intent and publisher's intent.

If an author writes a book with the idea that it is related to anot..."


I Absolutely agree. When one author or authors have the will to contribute/ build a world/ characters/ saga along several books, that is a SERIES.

But when one editor out there chooses a set of books that fancies him for a special edition with a fancy common cover and a grouping name, that's intended for collectors, That's a COLLECTION. It's book specific. Since right now we cant single out one book out of the lot for this, right now we can only note it in the edition field imo.

I can come up with a bunch of examples. I'm sure I can find in google 1 editor publishing every year a few books of the nobel winner in fancy leather bound with gold lettering etc. That's again a collection.

I know we are book addicts the whole lot of us and so we are collectors but we need to draw a line as Michael said.


message 18: by mlady_rebecca (new)

mlady_rebecca | 593 comments This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For wrote: "This leads me to a completely different conceptual way of trying to make a distinction: a series counts as a series only if designating a book as part of the series applies to *ALL* editions of the book. "

Seems like a good rule to start with.


message 19: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Here's a definite series:
http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Complet...

And here it is as a series on Goodreads.
http://www.goodreads.com/series/49893...

The problem is, the first book only has two editions, both from U Chicago Press. The second book has 6 editions, from 5 different publishers.


message 20: by Brian (new)

Brian (furicle) | 23 comments a series counts as a series only if designating a book as part of the series applies to *ALL* editions of the book.

Seems workable - covers the short story collections too, like this one where it's an editor's re-occurring theme that links them rather than an authors original intent.


message 21: by Carolyn (last edited Sep 01, 2010 06:53AM) (new)

Carolyn (seeford) | 579 comments I like TINTMichael's definition of a series:
"a series counts as a series only if designating a book as part of the series applies to *ALL* editions of the book. If a specific series concept doesn't apply to all editions it shouldn't be considered a series (in the sense we're defining here)."

I think that the_Cat makes a very good point in the distinction between Series and Collection - regardless of how a publisher defines a given group of books. So, in Lobstergirl's example, even though the publisher is calling it a series, it is not a series from the way we're defining it, it's a collection. In this case, a Listopia list seems like the best place for it (maybe GR needs a 'locked' list function, for reference's sake for collections, perhaps?), or it should be put into the Edition field.

I have been moving 'collection' type information into the edition field of a particular book, since it doesn't translate across editions.


message 22: by Cait (last edited Sep 01, 2010 07:59AM) (new)

Cait (tigercait) | 5005 comments Okay, I think I am persuaded to the difference between series and collections (although we'll have to put in an exception to the "all editions" rule for first books in a series in those cases where the author wrote a book and later expanded into a series).

I'm not entirely persuaded that collections shouldn't be treated like series, although the per-edition instead of per-book basis of many of them is a strong argument. As a counter-argument, though: going back to the SF Masterworks example, if a book is part of the SF Masterworks collection and I want to read the SF Masterworks collection, I probably don't care whether the edition I read is the one specifically published for the collection; if I want to collect the SF Masterworks collection, I probably do care -- so it's a question of whether we think collections like this are of sufficient interest to readers that it's worth treating them like series, of enough interest to collectors that it's worth putting the information in the edition field, and/or enough interest to both that it's worth some duplication by having it as series and edition.


message 23: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 41663 comments Mod
Exactly! Thanks for putting so well the concern I was having trouble elucidating.


message 24: by willaful (new)

willaful It is certainly information that is worth having, but I'm not convinced that's a good enough reason to stuff it into a format that it isn't suited for.


message 25: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 41663 comments Mod
willaful wrote: "a format that it isn't suited for"

But this is the crux of the disagreement. I disagree with that characterization.


message 26: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn (seeford) | 579 comments Cait wrote: "...going back to the SF Masterworks example, if a book is part of the SF Masterworks collection and I want to read the SF Masterworks collection, I probably don't care whether the edition I read is the one specifically published for the collection..."

In this case (SF Masterworks), I think Listopia is the answer, rather than the series object. If the edition doesn't matter, and in this kind of collection the order of the books doesn't matter either, so any voting on it wouldn't affect the ability of someone to see the entire list of them.

It would need to be maintained periodically to update it and clean off anything added that didn't fit the description, but that is true for any series or Listopia list anyways.


This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For | 949 comments I view Listopia as serving a completely different function and simply using it as a dumping ground for semi-series/collections doesn't make any more sense to me than just treating them as series...less in fact, to be honest.

I go back and forth on SF Masterworks. Part of me thinks the "series" is completely artificial and shouldn't be included...and part of me thinks, "so what? What does it harm?" (particularly once we're given the ability to rearrange series order). The last question is really part of the crux...what does it harm to consider SF Masterworks as a "series" (although as already stated, it is fundamentally more of a collection). willaful makes some good arguments about the Harlequin problems, but these don't necessarily apply to the SF Masterworks.

Maybe we need an ability to designate (a minimum number of) types of series: Traditional Series vs. Common Universes vs. Collections?


message 28: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 41663 comments Mod
This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For wrote: "I view Listopia as serving a completely different function and simply using it as a dumping ground for semi-series/collections doesn't make any more sense to me than just treating them as series...less in fact, to be honest."

Completely agree.


This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For wrote: "and part of me thinks, "so what? What does it harm?" (particularly once we're given the ability to rearrange series order). The last question is really part of the crux...what does it harm to consider SF Masterworks as a "series""

Agree with this as well.


message 29: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl I agree with Michael and Rivka about Listopias - completely different animal. Listopias are user-generated lists that sometimes have strict guidelines and are edited as such, but most of the time are freewheeling catch-all repositories. Listopias shouldn't have anything to do with cataloging.

Going back to this definition of a series - "a series counts as a series only if designating a book as part of the series applies to *ALL* editions of the book" - isn't it possible that books in an official series will eventually, at some future time, be published by other publishers in other editions, which will negate the series rule?


message 30: by Sandra (new)

Sandra | 22736 comments If I was thinking about a series, etc it would never occur to me to think Listopias. They are just for fun and not really for serious information, although I suppose you can use them to find books in specific genre. Still I wouldn't look there for series info.


message 31: by Jan (new)

Jan (janoda) | 140 comments This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For wrote: "This leads me to a completely different conceptual way of trying to make a distinction: a series counts as a series only if designating a book as part of the series applies to *ALL* editions of the book. "

I strongly disagree with this, because it causes problems for editions in different languages who publish differently.

Take Lord of the Rings in Dutch, there's editions which include the Appendices in the 3d book, but there's editions which publish the Appendices as book 4 in the series.
New Dutch readers might not realize that there is a fourth part if they can't check that in the series, which always refers to the English one.

A more recent example: The Song of Ice and Fire series by GRR Martin causes problems because the 3d book is split in some editions and languages, but these aren't added to the series.

So I really vote for being able to pick an edition for series + point out if it's an edition only or work series + be able to sort series (maybe edition level first, then work level?).

As for Harlequin e.a. I think some people do collect them and look for the numbers. But don't know if gigantic series like that would actually help.
However, for imprints, wouldn't a clickable publisher field be an outcome? Where you could find the books published by that publisher?

I'd also like that, because there's a lot of faulty info in that field, and I'd like to automate some of that (like combine all books for Baen and Baen Books, for instantce, since that's the same publisher...).

Like that, the imprints could be found together, without clogging up the series.


message 32: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 41663 comments Mod
Clickable publisher field, if it ever happens, is WAY down the road.


This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For | 949 comments Jan, I'm not entirely sure the Song of Ice and Fire issue is the same thing...since those books are split into multiple parts, they're not combined with the full works anyway and the issue is more whether we need a "synonymous" series which lists the books in the (say) German editions with its numbering or if these should be lumped into the longer list of SoIaF with some more complicated numbering scheme.

For example, someone has already done this for the French versions of this series.


message 34: by Jan (new)

Jan (janoda) | 140 comments This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For wrote: "Jan, I'm not entirely sure the Song of Ice and Fire issue is the same thing...since those books are split into multiple parts, they're not combined with the full works anyway and the issue is more ..."

And you don't find it illogical that not all books on that list are in the same language? The first 2 are spanish, the rest are French... Who knows what happens if some Germans (who have the same order) add some of those editions... You get a series with 3 languages on it, because it picks the most added book...
It won't make sense.

I really think this is an issue that needs to be handled now, because currently there is time for us to think about. You never know when something becomes big in another country, and if 200.000 Turkish people storm Goodreads one day, we want to be prepared and have a multilanguage approach.

In my head this is something that must be fairly easy to code, because most books have the prime language field filled.
That way I could add the Appendices to the LOTR series, and it wouldn't show in the normal view, because it doesn't have an English edition.


message 35: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Brown | 102 comments I've been talking to some of the developers and they are working on a feature to add multiple series and then control the order they appear in on the book detail page. In other words, for something like Dune, which should be part of the Dune Chronicles first and foremost, you could have that as the primary series and SF Masterworks as the secondary series. How does that sound to people? That way we can accommodate a lot of different kinds of series and still represent the data in a useful way. Then we would just have to agree on what the primary series should be for each book...


message 36: by Cait (new)

Cait (tigercait) | 5005 comments Patrick, that's definitely a feature we've all been eagerly anticipating! Thank you!


message 37: by Chris (new)

Chris  (haughtc) | 158 comments That sounds awesome, Patrick.


message 38: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 41663 comments Mod
That would be AWESOME.

It also means I can procrastinate some more on updating the manual, so really, it's a win-win for me. ;)


message 39: by Sandra (new)

Sandra | 22736 comments Rivka, LOL :)


message 40: by Kara (new)

Kara Babcock (tachyondecay) | 62 comments Jan wrote: "And you don't find it illogical that not all books on that list are in the same language? ... You get a series with 3 languages on it, because it picks the most added book..."

I agree it is somewhat disorganized, but the flaw is not with our approach to cataloguing series. Rather, it is another symptom of how Goodreads handles internationalization. The same phenomenon occurs on search results, yet we do not separate editions based on language—and rightly so, for they remain the same work.

The issue of internationalization is thus a site-wide problem. It's good that we consider it, but any workarounds we develop to address it should keep its scope in mind. A permanent internationalization feature will have to come from Goodreads (likely some sort of user preference).

Jan wrote: "That way I could add the Appendices to the LOTR series, and it wouldn't show in the normal view, because it doesn't have an English edition."

That is not a desirable outcome, in my opinion, because then it puts users who view the "English-language" series at a disadvantage. Even if no English-language edition exists, what's to stop a multilingual user from reading an edition in another language? If the work is not displayed on the English-language series page, however, how is the user even supposed to know it exists? That doesn't seem like very helpful cataloguing. If an edition doesn't exist in a particular language, falling back to another language edition is preferable to omitting it entirely.

The cacophony of languages on a series page can be confusing, yes. However, the current situation is the result of how Goodreads displays the most popular edition, regardless of its language. This could change at any time, and we should not try to compensate for it by separating series based on language. Such an action will make a lot more work for us once Goodreads does handle internationlization properly; more importantly, it compromises the integrity of the series feature on a semantic level.


This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For | 949 comments Jan said: And you don't find it illogical that not all books on that list are in the same language? The first 2 are spanish, the rest are French...

That's weird...when I made my post every book on that page was the French version (I explicitly checked). As Ben says, the flaw is with the way GoodReads catalogs, in some sense. I've seen other series where most of the books listed were English but one odd one happened to be German. Very irritating, but until we can control the order of combined books we're pretty much trapped.


message 42: by Jan (new)

Jan (janoda) | 140 comments Allright. So I'll take the language problem elsewhere then, and get back on topic here.

(Though I've been wondering if all those Return of The King combined editions really are the same, I'm pretty sure there's versions with and without the Appendices in there)


message 43: by Michael (new)

Michael | 262 comments As a collector of the SF Masterworks, I've been pondering the "series" numbers for a while. My conclusion is that they are a marketing tool designed to appeal to the my demonic Completist Urge!

Exorcising the Urge, I have come to consider inclusion in the Masterworks to be a useful indicator that this is a book I will possibly enjoy, but not that it is part of a connected series of narratives.

The Materworks number order is arbitary as far as I can see. They are not chronological by published date, internal milieu, alphabetical by author or title, etc. Just the order in which the editor felt they would be popular, it seems.

If the intention of the GR series indicator is to give readers the appropriate order in which the author intended the works to be read, then the SF Materworks numbering cannot properly be considered as such, nor should any other editors'/publishers' similar numbering scheme.

Given that many readers will still want this information, until the new functionality is described by Patrick is introduced, there needs to be a seperate way of being dealt with it, either by a different naming convention (but this is bound to get mixed up) or by a seperate field. The "Edition" field would seem the appropriate one.

I'm going to copy a link to this thread to the SF Masterworks Group to see what they think.


This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For | 949 comments Michael said: If the intention of the GR series indicator is to give readers the appropriate order in which the author intended the works to be read, then the SF Materworks numbering cannot properly be considered as such, nor should any other editors'/publishers' similar numbering scheme.

I feel fairly confidant this is not the single/primary intention of the GR series indicator. (Otherwise ordered numbering would be required). It's primary intention is to list/combine together books which have been published under some common ...um...theme?...concept?... designated by the author/publisher so that readers who want to find other books from the same whatever can do so in a single list, with additional information (Description, etc.) available. If the books are ordered, which they often are, it will also indicate the order. Eventually, one may even be able to rate these.

The order of the masterworks could be based on any number of factors, not the least of which is the order in which the publisher was able to get publishing rights. That doesn't make the order any less valid, if they are in fact numbered by the publisher. If they weren't numbered, than they should have been treated as an unordered series.


message 45: by Michael (new)

Michael | 262 comments OK, I obviously missed the announcement that a new field for Series has been created :-). I now better understand some of the comments that I wasn't really getting before.

I can't find anything about using the new field in the Librarian Manual. Could somebody post a link to that or to a relevant thread/post. Thanks.


message 46: by Dori (new)

Dori (adorible) | 198 comments This is a thread with the draft of the addition to the Librarian manual.


message 47: by Michael (new)

Michael | 262 comments Thanks, Dori :-D


message 48: by Jan (new)

Jan (janoda) | 140 comments Mmm.
I just discovered this old Listopia list and I think this might be a good solution for the specific SF Masterworks problem, and maybe even for imprints in general.
With lists you can add specific edtions (if you add them through the my books option that is), you can edit out all the ones that don't belong if they get added anyway, the books AND imprint are linked through the lists box on the book page (though maybe not on the front page).

It's not a perfect solution, but I think I prefer it over using the series functionality, because imprints aren't always the only edition of a book...


message 49: by Otis, Chief Architect (new)

Otis Chandler | 315 comments Mod
My opinion is that collections, like SF Masterworks, are not series's, and shouldn't be included or we'll pollute our series database with a lot of irrelevant junk.

Collections do have value however, and we have a upcoming project to build these out, as a part of the achievements idea. It seems to me that makes a lot more sense!


message 50: by Cait (new)

Cait (tigercait) | 5005 comments Otis wrote: "My opinion is that collections, like SF Masterworks, are not series's, and shouldn't be included or we'll pollute our series database with a lot of irrelevant junk."

*cough* I get the GR blog on RSS feed, so I can see the little dance you and Patrick just did there to decide whether to feature that "series".... ;)

(I still feel that they would be usefully treated as series, but I'll bow to the final decision!)


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