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Feeling lost? On this page you will find explanations of the basic concepts used across BookBrainz, as well as an F.A.Q and a glossary.
Still having some trouble with something? You can refer to the style documentation, or come ask us directly on our IRC channel.


Entities are the main concepts used to describe a bibliographic record through their relationships

Entity relationships
  • Author – an individual, group or collective that participates in the creative process of an artistic work. It also includes translators, illustrators, editors, etc.
  • Work – a distinct intellectual or artistic creation expressed in words and/or images. Here we are not talking, for example, about a physical book, but the introduction, story, illustrations, etc. it contains.
    • Examples: novel, poem, translation, introduction & foreword, article, research paper, etc.
  • Edition – a published physical or digital version of one or more Works.
    • Examples: book, anthology, comic book, magazine, leaflet
    • Note: An Author can self-publish an Edition
  • Edition Group – a logical grouping of similar Editions.
    • Example: paperback, hardcover and e-book editions
  • Publisher – publishing company or imprint


The following examples should help you understand the different entities and how they relate to each other:
The relationship between H.P Lovecraft , his short story At the Mountains of Madness and an Edition The Classic Horror Stories which contain it and several more works.
Paperback and E-book editions of the novel Ancillary Mercy by the publisher Orbit Books making them part of the same Edition Group

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I add a book?

First and foremost, search for both the author and the title of the book to avoid creating duplicates.
If a Work and an Edition containing it exist, the questions below will help you decide whether to create a new Edition.
Otherwise, here is a step-by-step procedure:

  1. Find or add a new Author
  2. Find or add a new Work with an 'Author wrote Work' relationship
  3. Find or add a new Publisher
  4. Find or add a new Edition Group
  5. Find or add a new Edition with a 'contains Work' relationship and fill in the Publisher
  6. If another format of the edition from the same publisher exists (see below), go to the Edition Group and click the 'Add Edition' button. Repeat step 5.

When should I create a new Edition of a Work?

  • When it is published in a different format (e.g. paperback and e-book)
  • When there are substantial content (textual or editorial) changes
  • Translations will both be a new Work and a new Edition for it.
  • Add a relationship between the original and the translated Works
  • New cover or changed credits/attribution on the cover
  • When there's a new ISBN

When should I not create a new Edition of a Work?

  • Minimal changes as in proofreading errors
  • Minimal changes on the cover
  • Reprints of the same Edition. You can mention “Reprint – [date]” in the annotations.
  • When the edition uses the same ISBN (with rare exceptions)

When should two Editions be part of the same Edition Group?

Generally, when a publisher releases multiple different formats of the same content, meaning:
  • No substantial textual changes to the Work (corrections aside)
  • Same editorial content (intro, foreword, etc.)
  • Same publisher
  • Same title and cover


Here is a short description of some of the main terms you will encounter. Some terms are borrowed from MusicBrainz; click on the term to be redirected to the MusicBrainz guidelines or a definition.

  • Aliases – Variant names for an entity such as alternate spelling, different script, stylistic representation, acronyms, etc.
    • Name: 村上 春樹 – Alias (english): Haruki Murakami
    • Name: J.K. Rowling – Alias (full name): Joanne Kathleen Rowling – Alias (pseudonym): Robert Galbraith
  • Author Credits – As appearing on the publication cover. For example, if the author is using a pseudonym, the credits should reflect that.
  • Disambiguation – Short comment added to differentiate between similarly-named entities.
    • The Alchemist (philosophical novel) by Paulo Coelho
    • The Alchemyst (Nicolas Flamel biography) by Michael Scott
  • Entities – Conceptual items representing the various authors and parts of a publication. See the previous Entities section for details.
  • Format – Refers to different printing and/or binding methods, or digital distribution.
    For example: paperback, mass-market, hardcover and e-book are all book formats
  • Identifiers – identity of an entity in other databases and services, such as ISBN, barcode, MusicBrainz ID, WikiData ID, etc.
    When adding identifiers to an entity, you can enter either the identifier only (Q2517049) or a full link (
  • Printing, print run, impression – A batch of identical copies of an edition of a work that is printed in a same, single production set-up.
    One edition of a work may have any number of printings, e. g. a same Edition can have a first impression and a second impression.
  • Sort name – Modified name to help sorting alphabetically
    • Charles Dickens -> Dickens, Charles
    • A Tale of Two Cities -> Tale of Two Cities, A
    • Benito Pérez Galdós -> Pérez Galdós, Benito