Cataloging-in-Publication Data – Should You Bother With it For Your Book?

Cataloging-in-Publication (CIP) data is included in many books (probably most of those published by mid-size and large publishers). You find it on the copyright page (the verso, or reverse side, of the title page).

Just what is CIP data? Here’s the definition provided by the Library of Congress:

“A bibliographic record prepared by the Library of Congress for a book that has not yet been published. When the book is published, the publisher includes the CIP data on the copyright page thereby facilitating book processing for libraries and book dealers.”

Most self-publishers and small, independent publishers find themselves unable to acquire this data from the Library of Congress due to LoC policy. The LoC says that CIP is only for U.S. publishers who “who publish titles that are most likely to be widely acquired by U.S. libraries.” The LoC also specifically excludes the following from the LoC’s CIP data program:

  • Book vendors
  • Distributors
  • Printers
  • Production houses and other intermediaries
  • Publishers who have published the works of fewer than three different authors
  • Self-publishers

Many librarians use CIP data to determine how to catalog your book and determine in what section and/or on what shelf it belongs. Many libraries will buy books based solely on the CIP entries provided by the LoC. But, like I said, you probably won’t be able to get that.

In lieu of LoC CIP data, you may include a Publisher’s CIP block on the copyright page. Although there are differences of opinion about how useful this data is to librarians and whether its presence will lead to more library sales, a CIP block is an inexpensive addition that may help sell books to libraries and may make your self-publishing or small publishing business appear more established, professional, and knowledgeable.

There are many independent catalogers who can provide a CIP record for you. Make certain you select someone who is a trained, professional librarian, as the content and format of the record is very important. If it’s wrong on either count, it serves no purpose.

Will it help? Since it won’t be entered into the LoC’s CIP system, you won’t get any of those automatic library sales. Many librarians, however, will appreciate its presence when they acquire your book since it saves them research time. Most public libraries today are understaffed, and books without CIP or PCIP will be set aside for cataloging later when they have time. If you have a PCIP record on your copyright page, they may complete the cataloging entry in their computer system right away.

The sooner your book is on the shelf in the library, the sooner people can check it out and read it. And the sooner they read it, the sooner they might decide they need a copy for themselves, friends, or relatives. And they might start promoting your book by word-of-mouth.

All of which means sales for your book.

At Five Rainbows Services, we include CIP data as part of our book interior design and typesetting service and also offer it separately for a flat fee.

Should you spend the money on a PCIP record for your book? You’ll have to make that decision for yourself. Just remember that it doesn’t cost much and can’t hurt…and it just might help.