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Choosing bookstore categories
Choosing bookstore categories

Instructions for choosing your book categories using BISAC codes.

Ash Davies avatar
Written by Ash Davies
Updated over a week ago

Categories let booksellers know where to display your book in store, or sort it online. When you publish, you'll choose two categories from a list. Here we explain where the list comes from, and how to navigate it to make the best choices.


The list is the Book Industry Study Group list of categories. Each category in the list has a main subject heading, and sub-categories within it. View the full list here β†’

  • There are 54 main subject headings, such as FICTION, HISTORY or PETS.

  • Each of these subject headings has sub-categories inside it. For example, FICTION contains the sub-categories "Dystopian" and "Romance".

  • Subcategories can have two, three of four levels.

Primary vs secondary categories

You'll choose your categories when you publish. You can choose a single primary category, or a primary category and secondary category.

Primary category

Your primary category should be the main focus of your book.

  • For books for adults, choose FICTION or one of the nonfiction headings.

  • For books for ages 0-11, choose JUVENILE FICTION or JUVENILE NONFICTION.

  • For books for ages 12-18, choose YOUNG ADULT FICTION or YOUNG ADULT NONFICTION.

Secondary category

Choose a secondary category if your book has other subjects.

Making your choices

To find your category, choose a main subject heading first. Next you'll see all the sub-categories contained within it.

  • Click the text Pick a category...

  • The first eight subjects appear. Scroll over the list to see more headings.

  • Pick a heading to see the subcategories within it. If the subcategory list is long, scroll over it to see all options.

  • Pick a subcategory. If your subcategory has more levels, pick again to further narrow your subject. Subcategories with more levels are bold.

Best practices

  • Choose two categories.
    Books are rarely about only one topic. Choosing a secondary category β€” and one with a different main heading β€” will extend your books reach.

  • Be specific.
    "General" categories are best left alone. Specific codes are more helpful to bookstores trying to correctly sort your book.

  • Be accurate.
    Booksellers and readers will rely on the choices you make. Inaccurate or misleading categories may harm your reputation.

  • Be consistent.
    If choosing two, choose categories that align. For example, do not combine FICTION with a heading from nonfiction, or combine an adult heading with JUVENILE FICTION, JUVENILE NONFICTION, YOUNG ADULT FICTION or YOUNG ADULT NONFICTION.

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