Wikipedia:Notability (books)

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This page gives some rough guidelines intended to be used by Wikipedia editors to decide whether a book should or should not have an article on Wikipedia. While satisfying these notability guidelines generally indicates a book warrants an article, failing to satisfy them is not a criterion for speedy deletion.

These guidelines may be considered a specialized version of Wikipedia:Notability, applied to books, reflecting the core Wikipedia policies, including the following:

Claims of notability must adhere to Wikipedia's policy on verifiability; it is not enough to simply assert that a book meets a criterion without substantiating that claim with reliable sources.

"Notability" as used herein is not a reflection of a book's merit. A book may be brilliantly written, fascinating and topical, while still not being notable enough to ensure sufficient verifiable source material exists to create an encyclopedia article about that book.

Coverage notes[edit]

Though the concept of "book" is widely defined, this guideline does not yet provide specific notability criteria for the following types of publications: comic books; graphic novels (although it does apply to manga); magazines; reference works such as dictionaries, thesauruses, encyclopedias, atlases and almanacs; music-specific publications such as instruction and notation books and librettos; instruction manuals, and exam prep books. Specific guidelines may be developed. Until then, this guideline may be instructive by analogy.

The criteria set forth below apply to books in electronic form (or e-books). However, the notability of e-books should also be evaluated using the notability criteria for web-specific content, as well as a determination of whether the book is covered by Project Gutenberg or an analogous project.

Criteria[edit]

Shortcut:

A book is likely to be notable if it verifiably meets, through reliable sources, at least one of the following criteria:

  1. The book has been the subject[1] of multiple, non-trivial[2] published works appearing in sources that are independent of the book itself.[3] This includes published works in all forms, such as newspaper articles, other books, television documentaries and reviews. Some of these works should contain sufficient critical commentary to allow the article to grow past a simple plot summary. This excludes media re-prints of press releases, flap copy, or other publications where the author, its publisher, agent, or other self-interested parties advertise or speak about the book.[4]
  2. The book has won a major literary award.
  3. The book has been considered by reliable sources to have made a significant contribution to a significant motion picture, or other art form, or event or political or religious movement.
  4. The book is the subject of instruction at multiple grade schools, high schools, universities or post-graduate programs in any particular country.[5]
  5. The book's author is so historically significant that any of his or her written works may be considered notable. This does not simply mean that the book's author is him/herself notable by Wikipedia's standards; rather, the book's author is of exceptional significance and the author's life and body of written work would be a common subject of academic study.

These criteria are presented as rules of thumb for easily identifying books that Wikipedia should probably have articles about. In almost all cases, a thorough search for independent, third-party reliable sources will be successful for a book meeting one or more of these criteria. However, meeting these criteria is not an absolute guarantee that Wikipedia should have a separate, stand-alone article entirely dedicated to the book.

Other considerations[edit]

Threshold standards[edit]

Books should have at a minimum an ISBN (for books published after 1975), be available at a dozen or more libraries and be catalogued by its country of origin's official or de facto national library. For example, in the United States books are catalogued by the Library of Congress; United Kingdom at the British Library; Australia at the National Library of Australia; Canada at the Library and Archives Canada; France at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Singapore at the National Library Board; in Brazil by the Fundação Biblioteca Nacional; Argentina at Biblioteca Nacional de la República Argentina; and in India at the National Library of India. For a complete list, see List of national libraries.

However, these are exclusionary criteria rather than inclusionary; meeting these threshold standards does not imply that a book is notable, whereas a book which does not meet them, most likely is not. There will be exceptions—books that are notable despite not meeting these threshold standards—but they will be rare and good reasons for the notability of such books should be made very clear.

Self-publication[edit]

In this regard, it should be especially noted that self-publication and/or publication by a vanity press do not correlate with notability.[6] Exceptions do exist, such as Robert Gunther's Early Science in Oxford or Edgar Allan Poe's Tamerlane. Note however that both of these books would be considered notable by virtue (for instance) of criterion 1.

Taking the preceding threshold section into account, it should be noted that many vanity press books are assigned ISBN numbers, may be listed in a national library, and may be found through a Google Book Search, none of which corroborates a claim of notability.

Because of problems with conflict of interest, book authors and other interested parties such as editors and editorial staff are strongly dissuaded (though by no means prohibited) from creating Wikipedia articles on their own works. See Wikipedia:Conflict of interest and Wikipedia:Autobiography for more information.

Online bookstores[edit]

A book's listing at online bookstores such as Barnes & Noble.com or Amazon.com is not by itself an indication of notability as both websites are non-exclusionary, including large numbers of vanity press publications. There is no present agreement as to whether a book's ranking at Amazon (found in the "product details" section) constitutes evidence of notability.

Not yet published books[edit]

Wikipedia is not a crystal ball. Articles about books that are not yet published are strongly discouraged and such articles are only accepted under criteria other than those provided in this guideline, typically because the anticipation of the book is notable in its own right. In such cases there should still be multiple independent sources providing strong evidence that the book will be published, which sources include the title of the book and an approximate date of publication.

Non-contemporary books[edit]

The vast majority of books upon which articles are written which invite a notability judgment call and which find their way to articles for deletion, are from the modern era. Nevertheless, the notability of books written or published much earlier may occasionally be disputed and the criteria proposed above, intended primarily for modern books, may not be as suitable. We suggest instead a more common sense approach which considers whether the book has been widely cited or written about, whether it has been recently reprinted, the fame that the book enjoyed in the past and its place in the history of literature.

Academic and technical books[edit]

Academic and technical books serve a very different function and come to be published through very different processes than do books intended for the general public. They are often highly specialized, have small printing runs, and may only be available in specialized libraries and bookstores. For these reasons, most of the standards for mainstream books are inapplicable to the academic bailiwick. Again, common sense should prevail. In such cases, suggested bases for a finding of notability include whether the book is published by an academic press,[7] how widely the book is cited by other academic publications or in the media,[8] how influential the book is considered to be in its specialty area, or adjunct disciplines, and whether it is taught or required reading in a number of reputable educational institutions.

Derivative articles[edit]

Shortcut:

It is a general consensus on Wikipedia that articles on books should not be split and split again into ever more minutiae of detail treatment, with each split normally lowering the level of notability. What this means is that while a book may be notable, it is not normally advisable to have a separate article on a character or thing from the book, and it is often the case that despite the book being manifestly notable, a derivative article from it is not. Exceptions do, of course, exist—especially in the case of very famous books. For example few would argue that Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol does not warrant a 'subarticle' on its protagonist, Ebenezer Scrooge. When a book has been split too finely to support the notability of individual subtopics, merging content back into the book article is appropriate.

In some situations— for example, if a given book itself does not appear to fit the established criteria for notability but the author is notable and has an article in Wikipedia— it may be more appropriate to feature material about the book in the author's article rather than creating a separate article for that book.

Resources[edit]

  • Clicking on any linked ISBN number on Wikipedia takes you to Special:Booksources where preformatted links for the specific book are provided, allowing access to multiple library catalogues, bookseller databases and other book resources.
This might be an issue as different formats of a book (i.e. ebook, audiobook, printed book) will have different ISBNs, and they will often not be sequential, especially for older books that were originally published before ebooks or audiobooks existed.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b The "subject" of a work means non-trivial treatment and excludes mere mention of the book, its author or of its publication, price listings and other nonsubstantive detail treatment.
  2. ^ a b "Non-trivial" excludes personal websites, blogs, bulletin boards, Usenet posts, wikis and other media that are not themselves reliable. An analysis of the manner of treatment is crucial as well; Slashdot.org for example is reliable, but postings to that site by members of the public on a subject do not share the site's imprimatur. Be careful to check that the author, publisher, agent, vendor. etc. of a particular book are in no way interested in any third party source.
  3. ^ a b Independent does not mean independent of the publishing industry, but only refers to those actually involved with the particular book.
  4. ^ a b Self-promotion and product placement are not the routes to having an encyclopedia article. The published works must be someone else writing about the book. (See Wikipedia:Autobiography for the verifiability and neutrality problems that affect material where the subject of the article itself is the source of the material). The barometer of notability is whether people independent of the subject itself (or of its author, publisher, vendor or agent) have actually considered the book notable enough that they have written and published non-trivial works that focus upon it.
  5. ^ a b This criterion does not include textbooks or reference books written specifically for study in educational programs, but only independent works deemed sufficiently significant to be the subject of study themselves, such as major works in philosophy, literature, or science.
  6. ^ Certain print-on-demand book publishers, such as PublishAmerica, claim to be "traditional" advance- and royalty-paying publishers rather than vanity presses. Regardless of the exact definitions, PublishAmerica and similar presses are to be considered vanity presses for purposes of assessing notability based on the manner works are published through them.
  7. ^ Publication by a prominent academic press should be accorded far more weight than the analogous benchmark defined for publication of mainstream book by well known commercial publishers, by virtue of the non-commercial nature of such presses, and the peer review process that some academic books must pass before publication is allowed to go forward. See university presses for a partial list of such presses. Note that because a large portion of (en.)Wikipedia articles are written by English speaking people from English speaking nations, this list currently has an English speaking bias.
  8. ^ A book's subject may be so specialized, such as in the esoteric math or physics spheres, that only a few hundred (or fewer) people in the world are situated to understand and comment on the material.
  9. ^ "catalogue.bl.uk". catalogue.bl.uk. 1994-11-06. Retrieved 2014-01-04. 
  10. ^ "catalog.loc.gov". catalog.loc.gov. 2013-05-14. Retrieved 2014-01-04. 
  11. ^ "litencyc.com". litencyc.com. Retrieved 2014-01-04. 
  12. ^ "Norton Anthology of World Literature: W. W. Norton StudySpace". Wwnorton.com. Retrieved 2014-01-04. 
  13. ^ Time:1:47. "worldcat.org". worldcat.org. Retrieved 2014-01-04.