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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 user guide and 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
AuthorAuthor – an individual, group or collective that participates in the creative process of an artistic work. It also includes translators, illustrators, editors, etc.
WorkWork – 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.
SeriesSeries – a set or sequence of related works, editions, authors, publishers or edition-groups.
  • Examples: a series of novels, a series of comics, etc.
EditionEdition – 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
EditionGroupEdition Group – a logical grouping of different Editions of the same book.
  • Example: paperback, hardcover and e-book editions of a novel
PublisherPublisher – 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 AuthorAuthor
  2. On the Author page, click on 'Add Work' to create a WorkWork with a relationship to the Author
  3. On the Work page, click 'Add Edition' to create an EditionEdition with a relationship to the Work.
    • A new EditionGroupEdition Group will be created automatically, but you can select an existing one
    • Create a new PublisherPublisher if you cannot find an existing one
  4. To enter another format of the same book (see explanations below), go to the Edition Group and click the 'Add Edition' button. Repeat step 4.

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?

Edition Groups exist to group together all the variations of an edition (an identifiable set of works) in a given language. Here are examples of Editions that should be part of the same Edition Group:
  • Different formats of the same edition (paperback, hardcover and e-book by the same publisher)
  • Revised and updated editions
  • Reprints
  • Editions with different forewords/intros
  • Co-editions (same book published in different countries by different publishers)


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