Books are tagged using “Bowker Subject Headings,” which Bowker explains as their “looser” version of LC subject headings. The user is presented with a tag cloud on the home page, allowing the user to navigate to subjects such as “teenage girls,” “vampires,” and “journeys” (I would expect any book that contained all three of those tags to take place mostly at night).
The tags are curated, rendering them the ‘best of both worlds’–truly descriptive subject headings without the constraints of being restricted to only two or three subject headings, and without the flotsam of user-generated tags. There are even different kinds of tags–character names (unsurprisingly, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys are the most used tags on this list), setting, location, time frame, and of course, genre.
Books in Print is intended for library use, so books’ pages provide information on pricing through a variety of suppliers. Records are also available for download in a variety of formats (MARC, AARC-2, etc.).
It is unclear how books are ranked in searches–clicking on the “teenage girls” tag led me to a list of results that were published in a variety of years ranging from 1982 to 2009, in no specific order. I had heard of very few of them, so it wasn’t by notoriety.
Searches can be refined using a useful sidebar. Related keywords can be added, or results can be restricted by market, format, author, (out of print/ in print/ forthcoming), availability, and price, for example. Results can also be narrowed by awards or reviewers.
It must be acknowledged that Books in Print is only available by subscription. I have access through Western’s Graduate Resource Centre.
Books in Print could be a valuable tool for collection development, and book-seeking (due to it’s excellent tagging system) but is unlikely to be the first tool librarians reach for when presented with a reference question.