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Open discussion of RDA, RDA Toolkit, and related topics
  • 1.  publisher for self-published books

    Posted Sep 13, 2022 12:30 PM

    *Please excuse cross posting*


    I'm trying to teach my new catalogers about cataloging self-published books. We have lots of things like personal histories (but not exclusively those) that we're working with which are printed by individuals or families, mainly for limited distribution within that family. These are different than print-on-demand and other books that are printed through Amazon like CreateSpace, etc. As you know it's very hard to tell where and by whom they're printed; sometimes the publication date is either missing or not clear. Etc., etc., etc.

    What I really need is some clear direction specifically on how to deal with the publisher. Is the publisher the individual writing the book, and should that name be put in the 264 field? This was common practice back in the day, but I'm thinking that might not be correct practice anymore. RDA doesn't seem to mention self-publication specifically (at least that I can find) so given that, does the instruction to use [name of publisher not identified] apply? Since I'm instructing novices here, it would help if you could give me "chapter and verse" where I can find an official statement or guideline that I can give to them.

     I really appreciate your help. Thank you.


    Chris Fox
    Catalog Librarian
    Brigham Young Univ.-Idaho

  • 2.  RE: publisher for self-published books

    Posted Sep 13, 2022 01:24 PM

    Author in publisher info is what I've been doing.





  • 3.  RE: publisher for self-published books

    Posted Sep 14, 2022 07:51 AM
    I'm not sure there is an official statement or guideline for cataloging self published materials yet.  It might be an example of  cataloger's judgement?  We're putting the author's name in the publisher field as well.

    Kathryn Balek
    Librarian, Technical Services
    Mayo Clinic Libraries

  • 4.  RE: publisher for self-published books

    Posted Sep 15, 2022 10:56 AM
    Edited by Miranda Calhoon Sep 16, 2022 07:25 AM
    The way I was taught to handle self-published books would be to consider the author the publisher and the platform as the manufacturer (if you have the platform information). I'm not sure if this is the "proper" way according to RDA, but it made logical sense to me so this is how I've been handling these.

    For example, a book written by Diana Barry and published through CreateSpace would have 264s that looked something like

    264 _1 $a Avonlea : $b Diana Barry, $c [2022]
    264 _3 $a [United States] : $b CreateSpace
    264 _4 $c ©2022​

    If I didn't know the platform used to publish, I would just leave out the 264 _3.

    Miranda Calhoon
    Manager of Collection Services
    Aurora Public Library District

  • 5.  RE: publisher for self-published books

    Posted Sep 15, 2022 05:41 PM
    I think the "correct" RDA treatment for a self-published manifestation is as follows:

    The agent who is the creator (author, artist, etc.) of the work that is realized and then embodied in the manifestation is the same as the publisher agent (and the creator of the expression, although it rarely useful to record this).

    The platform used for the manifestation is better treated by default as a distributor agent. This fits cases where the platform is used to upload the manifestation in its final form, e.g. SlideShare. In cases where the platform provides facilities that are used to create the manifestation, for example layout templates, automatic conversion from text to pdf, embellishments, etc., then the platform is also a manufacturer agent (a subtype of creator agent).

    The number of manifestations that are self-published now exceeds the number of "other-published" manifestations by orders of magnitude if you include YouTube videos, Flickr photographs, blogging sites, etc. Whether it is worth recording such manifestations is a local, cultural, and contextual decision (is the 'author' famous?).

    Gordon Dunsire

  • 6.  RE: publisher for self-published books

    Posted Nov 10, 2022 06:07 PM

    Agreed – the author is the publisher.

    CreateSpace specifically says in their guidelines for customers that they are NOT a publisher and should not be listed as the publisher, but obviously the authors don't always follow the guidelines. I would consider platforms like that distributors.


    Sent from Mail for Windows


  • 7.  RE: publisher for self-published books

    Posted Nov 11, 2022 05:56 AM
    Treating the author as the publisher also makes sense when you consider what a publisher actually is. Official RDA defines a publisher agent as "An agent who is responsible for publishing, releasing, or issuing a published manifestation" and Penguin lists some of the responsibilities of a publisher as "ensur[ing] everything on screen can be translated to a printed book ... design ... publicity & marketing ... [and] distribution." 

    When you publish through CreateSpace and other self-publishing platform, you're responsible for the editing, design, and layout of your manuscript, and are usually the driving force behind promotion and distribution as well. CreateSpace is really only acting as a printer/manufacturer.