Author entity guideline


An author is a person or group who have contributed creatively to a work, edition or edition group.


The name of an author should be their canonical name in its original language and script. A canonical name is the name that is most commonly used, i.e. their best-known name. Additional names, including legal name, pseudonyms, alternate spellings, transliterations, etc. should be included as aliases.


Author names can be expressed in multiple languages; a name can be adapted to different names in other languages without retaining the same pronunciation. Examples:

  • Αἴσωπος ← name in original Greek
  • Aesop ← name in English
  • Ésope ← name in French
  • 伊索 ← name in Chinese

When entering a name in a different language as an alias, specify the corresponding language of its usage.


Transliteration is the representation of a name in a different script, intending to maintain its pronunciation. Example:

  • Αἴσωπος ← name in original Greek
  • Aísōpos ← transliterated into Latin script

When entering a transliterated name as an alias, specify the original language of the name.


A group author represents a named group of individuals (e.g. an organization, partnership, collaboration, etc.) that creates a work, edition or edition group. Examples:

Where practical, a group should have relationships to individual authors who participated as members in the group.

Publishers are not classified as group authors, as the act of publishing is not considered the act of creative contribution to a work, edition or edition group.

Special-purpose authors

Special-purpose authors handle situations where the actual author(s) of works, editions or edition groups cannot be represented. Examples:

  • [anonymous] is used when an author has published a work anonymously, or author attribution has been irrecoverably lost.
  • [unknown] is used when the author is currently unknown, but could potentially be determined at a later time.
  • [traditional] is used for works that have been preserved in the oral tradition (e.g. received, preserved, and transmitted orally from one generation to another).

I’ve continued with guidelines by moving onto the author entity. Above is my initial draft, which I’ll modify as required. If you’d like to see any changes or additions, please let me know.

Than you for these writeups.
We also have [no author].
IMO, [oral tradition] should be [traditional] to keep consistency with MB.

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Can you describe how you think [no author] should be used in BookBrainz?

I was thinking something like AI content, or maybe something like a birdwatching guide full of photographs from multiple people, where you can’t reasonably credit anyone in particular for it.


Editions where nobody is credited on the cover or the front page probably? But honestly I would prefer to have the ability to explicitly specify “This edition has no author credit” via a checkbox. (IMO this is one of the most annoying things on MB that you always have to specify an artist credit, even when there is none and you have to make something up…)


We have [anonymous] for no-name-and-will-likely-never-be-known, and [unknown] for maybe-could-be-known-just-not-right-now. As for AI, my natural inclination would be to create an entirely new artist to represent such machine-created-content.

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This is a good point. BB also has to deal with folk song anthologies and traditional poems, so we should use the same term as MB. “Traditional” is actually just a synonym for “oral tradition”

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Translator here: Aesop is not a transliteration of Αἴσωπος, but the canonical English name. Transliteration is changing one script to another, while retaining the pronunciation as much as possible. So the Latin transliteration would be Aísōpos (see Wikipedia). Keep in mind that transliteration can change with the target language, because letters are pronounced differently in different languages. The aliases for Tchaikovsky are a nice example of that.

I don’t know how the data on BookBrainz is structured, but I would avoid using the term transliteration and just call them localised names. Does BookBrainz support aliases?


you’re right of course, missed that, too. The correct transliteration has to be Aísōpos.
And yes, these transliterations are also often different for different languages.

But we can use them as aliases nonetheless. In fact these transliterations are much more important for works.

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How are pseudonyms handled?
I think both the fictious name and actual name are needed

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All name variants are handled as aliases.

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Good, i’d argue that pseudonyms are a special case

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For most of the 20th Century, the legal document stating the song title and the authors was the application for copyright. This was commonly filed by the music publishing company (ies) on behalf of the authors, and all information was sworn to under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America. This is the number one source for spelling of song title, names of authors (legal ID required for all claimants), publisher name and date. It is important to check for amended apps and renewals for changes).

Info printed on records and liner notes are secondary to this, along with “best known” etc
None of it is legally sworn to and has little standing court. Discogs lists every alternate and mispellings and should not be considered a definitive source.

I have discussed this with many fellow editors, and it is hard to argue with this when disputes arise. It should be mentioned as a consideration at the very least.

whoops this applies to songwriting not bookbrainz sorry


Of course there is a logical difference between a name variation and a pseudonym.
BB has decided to treat all name variants equally. With good reasons.

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Thanks for the clarification on Αἴσωπος. I’ve now revised the draft to distinguish between transliteration and translation.

I’m not exactly sure how this information should be applied in BookBrainz. Are you suggesting this should inform the names we associate with authors, or how authors are associated with works and editions?

ok, is there any documentation of the reasons for those of us late to the discussion so we can understand the reasoning.?

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No, at least not in the forum, this was decided without public debate at an early stage of the db.

But it’s quite simple: Author pseudonyms are in the vast majority of cases used for works only for a certain period of time. At the latest after death, the works appear under the author’s best-known name.
A few examples:

“Wuthering Heights” (Emily Brontë) first published under the pseudonym Ellis Bell.
“Jane Eyre” (Charlotte Bronte) first published under the pseudonym Currer Bell.
“Nicholas Nickleby” (Charles Dickens) first published under the pseudonym Boz

Today, no one knows these pseudonyms, because the works have long been published under the more familiar name.

If we had a separate entry for each pseudonym, we would have to assign the early editions to the pseudonym and all others to the real / better known name. This is difficult.

Moreover, in newer editions the original pseudonyms are not mentioned at all (or only in small print).

Example: The German author Kurt Tucholsky used 4 different pseudonyms for his writings. In most of today’s editions (except for very good ones) there is no indication under which pseudonym the individual texts were originally published.

So the all-in-one method has many advantages. But you don’t seem to agree with it. What are the disadvantages?


I would go on to say that I value our approach that for people, each author represents one humanoid carbon-based life form. This makes understanding the relationship between that person and their works clearer than if we created authors to represent every possible persona.

Is it worth me trying to capture something about this topic in the author entity guideline?