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A BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications) code is a combination of letters and numbers that are used to record the genre (or genres) of a book on file. These are commonly used in libraries and bookstores to help easily sort books into categories. BISAC codes also help readers find your book through retail and online stores by listing them alongside similar titles.

Codes are managed and moderated by the Book Industry Study Group.

Do I need a BISAC code?

A BISAC code is not a legal requirement for listing your book in stores. It is at the retailer’s discretion to sell books that do not have BISAC designations as this can make the title more difficult to stock and sort when dealing with many products.

To ensure that your book is able to be listed in as many stores as possible, a BISAC code should be added to the copyright page of your book.

How do I get a BISAC code?

Codes do not need to be registered like an ISBN. Instead, you can visit the page that lists the Complete BISAC Subject Headings to get a code that best describes your book. Make sure you have every applicable genre selected for your code to get the best possible exposure and appear in the most refined categories.

If you require use of the BISAC headings list for sorting titles in your bookstore, the Book Industry Study Group asks for a fee in return for doing so. You can see further details on BISG’s page for the BISAC Subject Headings (2014 Edition).

BISAC Code Examples

The letter / number formation of a BISAC Code is similar to the following:

AAA000000 Category / Subcategory / Topic

Three letters followed by six numbers, with up to three designations. For example, a book about landscape photography would be listed as follows:

PHO023040 PHOTOGRAPHY / Subjects & Themes / Landscapes

Or a book about planting and maintaining Roses:

GAR004060 GARDENING / Flowers / Roses

If you can’t find a specific subcategory for your book, you can also simplify the designation:

GAR000000 GARDENING / General

For the full list of BISAC codes and categories, please refer to the official Complete BISAC Subject Headings list.

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