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§25.2. Bibliographic data

Almost all printed books have a title page and a so-called "imprint" page, often its verso, which make up a description of the contents. The title page gives the name of the book and of the author, while an imprint page contains a variety of details about the edition, the printing, and so on. An ISBN number is allocated so that, from the number alone, any book seller or cataloguer can identify exactly this work. Sometimes other cataloguing information is added, such as the Library of Congress classification. This set of information is called "bibliographic data", and without it libraries and booksellers would be at a total loss.

IF has bibliographic data, too. Inform has a number of special named values to hold this - who wrote the work being created, what it is called, what headline it has, what genre it has and what its release number is, and so on.

These can be set as follows:

The story title is "Mansfield Perk".
The story author is "Janet Austen".
The story headline is "An Interactive Romance".
The story genre is "Romance".
The release number is 7.
The story description is "In Miss Austen's new interactive novella, Miss Henrietta Pollifax is adopted by the tempestuous landowner Sir Tankerley Mordant, and must make a new life for herself on the rugged moors."
The story creation year is 2005.

Most of these are self-explanatory. The "story creation year" is provided so that if we need to revise the work to fix some bugs a year later - by no means an uncommon occurrence - then we can make sure it is correctly identified as still being basically a 2005 work. (Just as a book which has had innumerable revised printings may say "First published 1988" on its imprint page.) The "story description" is a piece of text, analogous to the back cover blurb on a book: it might be two or three paragraphs long, so the example above is rather minimal, but it should not be epic in length.

As we have already seen, a convenient abbreviation provides that if the first sentence of the source text consists solely of text in quotation marks, then that is considered the title. Thus if the source begins:

"Mansfield Perk"

then that will be the "story title". Further, we can write

"Mansfield Perk" by Janet Austen

with the obvious effect: quotation marks around the author's name are optional here, for convenience, but note that we'd better have them in cases like:

"Three Men in a Boat" by "Jerome K. Jerome"

as otherwise the full stop after the K will end the sentence prematurely.

The text of these bibliographic descriptions cannot normally include text substitutions, since they are written into external descriptions of the story file as part of its "binding". Two exceptions are allowed, though: "[']" makes a literal apostrophe, and can be used if we need to override Inform's normal conventions to do with converting apostrophes at the ends of words to double-quotes. For instance:

"Summer of [']69" by Buzz Aldrin

The other exception is that the "[unicode ...]" text substitution works, so for example:

The story description is "This is a sentence[unicode 8212]with a parenthetical in dashes[unicode 8212]because 8212 is the Unicode number for an em-dash. But for example, 'pawn to [unicode black chess bishop]4' draws in a black chess bishop, so it works with names, too."

If the bibliographic named values are not set by the source text, Inform will still need to say something. Unset text and number variables evaluate to "" and 0 respectively, but this would make for a very unhelpful record. So Inform uses the following table instead of any value which is unset:

Story title: Untitled
Story author: Anonymous
Story headline: An Interactive Fiction
Story genre: Fiction
Release number: 1

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