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Old 08-04-2011, 01:26 PM   #1
Caleb666
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Genres vs. Tags?

Hi,

I was reading the Calibre manual on hierarchical subgroups, and an example was given using a custom column called Genres.

Before reading that article, I was in fact going to use the tags themselves to specify the genre or type of book, so the question is, why would you need an extra Genre column to do this?

Would you recommend using tags only for this, or is creating a Genre column a better way to manage a collection?

If I do use Genres, I'm not sure what good tags are going to do me if I already set the genre of some book to History.Military.

Last edited by Caleb666; 08-04-2011 at 01:28 PM.
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Old 08-04-2011, 01:36 PM   #2
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I was wondering the same thing also. I'm new to Calibre and coming from another book management program that uses tags, I am wondering what the benefits would be in using Genre vs tags. The one thing that stood out for me is the hierarchy with the sub-groups which you don't have with tags. So I am curious to know how you are using this Genre field.

Thanks!
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Old 08-04-2011, 01:38 PM   #3
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I think some people like to have the many and varied tags which can be downloaded with each book from places like Amazon. However, trying to manage your library with these is probably the road to madness when there is little quality control on the tags. So they use a separate tightly controlled custom Genre column as well.

Personally, I only use the tags column but I don't allow any tagging from outside sources.
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Old 08-04-2011, 01:44 PM   #4
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I use the Genre column as the downloadable tag column, I like to keep track of what the "official" tags are for my books but in order to keep control over what is in my library I use the tag column for my personal tags, because I also use the Kindle Collections plugin to create collections based on the tag column so that must stay as clean as possible.

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Old 08-04-2011, 02:05 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tweebee View Post
I was wondering the same thing also. I'm new to Calibre and coming from another book management program that uses tags, I am wondering what the benefits would be in using Genre vs tags. The one thing that stood out for me is the hierarchy with the sub-groups which you don't have with tags. So I am curious to know how you are using this Genre field.

Thanks!
Actually, you can have hierarchies with tags as well.

@nynaevelan: Is your custom Genre column populated automatically by the downloaded tags, or do you copy and paste manually?

Btw, do you guys use a more complex hierarchy such as a high-level separation of Fiction and Nonfiction? That's kinda nice, but it'd be a lot of typing!

Last edited by Caleb666; 08-04-2011 at 02:15 PM.
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Old 08-04-2011, 03:44 PM   #6
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WIth my Sony, I use a custom Genre column so I can control the order the books appear on the collection for each Genre.

I set my custom column to be series like.
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Old 08-04-2011, 04:57 PM   #7
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The genre column described in the tutorial *is* a tags column.

Any text-type column (tags, series, custom columns) can be marked as hierarchical. If you do this, then the tag browser shows you the outermost item in the hierarchy. You can "open" that to see subitems.

The reason to use a different column for genres is that they (genres) are almost always a subset of tags. If you want to use the subset (genres) in templates or to limit searches, it is much more convenient for them to be in separate columns. The same thing is true of book source, reading/read, rights management, and a host of other information kinds.

I sometimes think that 'tags' should be an automatic grouped search term (preferences -> search), combining the text-type columns into a single category. That would encourage more precise information labeling while make an over-category that combines the various information kinds together. Unfortunately, it would also most likely confuse everybody.
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Old 08-04-2011, 07:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chaley View Post
.......... I sometimes think that 'tags' should be an automatic grouped search term (preferences -> search), combining the text-type columns into a single category. That would encourage more precise information labeling while make an over-category that combines the various information kinds together. Unfortunately, it would also most likely confuse everybody.
I agree with you.

So how does it work now? If I create a custom Genres column, searching for tags won't look for genres, right?

I'm working on organizing my collection now, and I have a few Russian books in there (fiction, humor), and on the one hand I'd like to file them under a few genres, but I'd also like to tag them as being in Russian!

The problem with having tags separate from Genres is that if I use tags sparingly like that (but Genres religiously), then tags become just a bunch of special markers that don't represent my whole collection.
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Old 08-04-2011, 08:29 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caleb666 View Post
Actually, you can have hierarchies with tags as well.

@nynaevelan: Is your custom Genre column populated automatically by the downloaded tags, or do you copy and paste manually?
I use the goodreads plugin to autopopulate that column, I do add some tags to it if I get info from another source but 90% of it is from the goodreads plugin.
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Old 08-05-2011, 01:18 AM   #10
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So how does it work now? If I create a custom Genres column, searching for tags won't look for genres, right?
Assuming that 'tags' is the column name, then you are correct, searching for tags:X will only find values in the tags column. Searching for the naked term X will find it in all the columns you permit in search preferences.
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I'm working on organizing my collection now, and I have a few Russian books in there (fiction, humor), and on the one hand I'd like to file them under a few genres, but I'd also like to tag them as being in Russian!
Why is this a problem?

The language of the book is not a genre, at least in the way that I define the term. The genre "Russian literature" does not specify the language of the book; all of my Russian literature is in English. I have books in French and in English, sometimes the same book in both languages.

I use a second column, language, to indicate the language of the book. For books I have in multiple languages, I have chosen to have two books in my library with different values in the language column.
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The problem with having tags separate from Genres is that if I use tags sparingly like that (but Genres religiously), then tags become just a bunch of special markers that don't represent my whole collection.
I don't understand the issue. You would use tags for whatever you use them for. Why do the values not represent the entire collection?

The difficulty with 'tags' is that the term contains no information beyond being a set of labels/words that are applied to a book. Because of that, it becomes difficult to have subsets of labels that mean something as a group. Genre is one example. If I put genres in 'tags' along with other stuff, how to I get a list of all genres? How do I find books with no genre? How do I use them in templates? The same problem exists for other groups of labels with meaning. For example, I keep indications of where I got a book (what store or repository), what my rights are (physical, purchased, PD, free, etc), language, my priority (for reading), my wife's priority, and so on. The column name defines the group/category. I can easily search, subset, find missing values, find outlying values, etc. Putting all of these into 'tags' would be a disaster, at least from an information management perspective.
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Old 08-05-2011, 04:03 AM   #11
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Thanks for the explanation chaley.

I have a few more questions, if you don't mind:

* What do you use tags for?

* What kind of a hierarchy do you use when you cateogrize genres? Do you first make the Fiction/Nonfiction distinction? such as Fiction.Mystery.foo, or would that make the tree too deep?

* How do you decide where a book goes to? Do you use any websites to help you find that out?

* What is the 'date' field used for in Calibre? Is that the date that the book was added to the library?

* In the 'published' field, do you put the date that this particular edition was published, or when the book was originall published (this is more relevant to classical books that have many new editions)

* Where do you keep track of which edition this book is? Do you add an extra column for that as well?

* Do you have a separate column for the translator of the book, or do you keep it together with the author? (as it happens by default)

* If I use these custom fields, such as Genre, Language, Translator... will I be able to display them on the web interface?

Last edited by Caleb666; 08-05-2011 at 05:21 AM.
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Old 08-05-2011, 05:53 AM   #12
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* What do you use tags for?
workflow & random stuff that isn't part of some other category. The latter includes things like friend's recommendations. Also, it is a collection pot for things like downloaded metadata (although I very seldom do that) and tags that come in with import.
Quote:
* What kind of a hierarchy do you use when you cateogrize genres? Do you first make the Fiction/Nonfiction distinction? such as Fiction.Mystery.foo, or would that make the tree too deep?
Mine is quite flat and not detailed. I don't use hierarchies in my genres (yes, this is strange as I added that feature to calibre, but that was for the challenge of it. ).
Quote:
* How do you decide where a book goes to? Do you use any websites to help you find that out?
I put it where I want it. That way I am reasonably sure that the categorization is consistent and that I understand the rationale.
Quote:
* What is the 'date' field used for in Calibre? Is that the date that the book was added to the library?
Usually, yes. I think there are cases where books are being imported and an OPF exists when the date is taken from the OPF, but I could be wrong.
Quote:
* In the 'published' field, do you put the date that this particular edition was published, or when the book was originall published (this is more relevant to classical books that have many new editions)
I almost always use the original date. I will use a later date if it matters, such as when the edition is sufficiently different where I might want to have both of them. I pay no attention at all to near-identical variants (country, publisher, etc), an attitude adopted because I have dead-tree books purchased in many countries (airport bookstores). I suppose that if I was deeply into translated editions, I might use the date of translation, but I am not sure.

NB: I have set the tweak to see only year.
Quote:
* Where do you keep track of which edition this book is? Do you add an extra column for that as well?
I put it in the title.
Quote:
* Do you have a separate column for the translator of the book, or do you keep it together with the author? (as it happens by default)
Ahh, I jumped ahead.

I don't keep track of translators. However, I do keep track of authors of short stories in a collection. I put the editor as the main author, then add the story authors into a custom 'names' column. This is backwards, I know, but it preserves author matching and avoids cutting the collection into separate stories. If I used calibre for my academic library (collection of papers) then I would reverse this.

It is worth noting that I am much more interested in recording the 'state' of a book than in recording information about the contents of the book. That is why my genre indicators are sparse (this is about the content), and why I have columns for rights, priorities, date read, source, etc (these are about my interactions with the book).

There are other people on this forum who are much more organized about how they keep track of information about the content of books in their library. Some have responded to this thread. I remember seeing threads in the past about how people handle genres, editors, translators, and the like. If you haven't already done so, you might profit from searching for them.
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Old 08-05-2011, 08:14 AM   #13
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I use the tags to track other details besides the genre, so I have a separate custom field for genre. For instance, if a book had errors and I used Sigil to correct them, I have a 'corrected' tag in the tag field to indicate this.
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Old 08-05-2011, 11:00 AM   #14
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I hate those bucket-loads of IMHO redundant tags that get poured on if you allow that.

Science Fiction.Military answers all the questions:
It is Fiction
It is Military Fiction
It is Fiction - Science Fiction (Doh!)

Bucket loads of tags is a holdover from the days of paper-board cards in drawers (remember them?) when you needed a separate CARD for each (major) category (I don't ever remember any Library filing by the granularity I see in many of the current tags )
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Old 08-05-2011, 11:31 AM   #15
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I use a custom column for any information that I want to group (Collection) items, such that they are in only one group for that column. Genre, Series, Author Name.

I use tags when I want groupings (Collections) where a given book/story can be in multiple ones.

I rarely group books but what many people use for Genre. I have Genres of Non-fiction, Aviation, SciFi. And in SciFi, I only put books by authors I do not immediately recognize as SciFi. So Laumer, Asimov, Niven, Weber, etc, do NOT go into that collection.
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