This week was the last of the BISG’s series of webinars on metadata. The third and last webinar was Navigating the transition from ONIX 2.1 to 3.0, presented by Graham Bell, Chief Data Architect of EDItEUR. (You can read about the other two webinars on my posts The BISG’s Metadata Research Project and Understanding Metadata).
EDItEUR is an organization that develops, supports and promotes metadata and identification standards for books’, ebooks’, and serials’ supply chains. Though based in the UK, there are international members, which helps shape their standards. All changes are discussed by National Groups to ensure international applicability.
ONIX was developed by EDItEUR, originally in collaboration with BISG and BIC. ONIX uses XML. Currently, almost everyone (both small and large organizations, all over the world) uses ONIX 2.1, which hasn’t really changed since June 2003.
ONIX 3.0 was released April 2009, but is not catching on very quickly. Many companies use ONIX 3.0 if it’s the first time they’re using ONIX, but if they already had ONIX 2.1 set up, they are not likely to change. However, support for ONIX 2.1 will be reduced at end of 2014.
Unlike some metadata standards, such as BISAC codes, the ONIX 3.0 standard is available for free for the whole industry to use.
ONIX 3.0 has eight key differences from ONIX 2.0:
- block level updates
- digital products (described differently, such as form and format)
- sets and series (any bunch of books is treated as a collection instead)
- sales rights (clarifies the standard)
- marketing collateral (helps display books in the market)
- parallel multi-lingual data (able to send textual data in multiple languages simultaneously)
- related works
- international markets
Above is part of the ONIX best practice guide, which is also available on the website.
Some of the data elements have changed in ONIX 3.0, but it is still grouped in to blocks. ONIX 3.0 has six main blocks, and two introductory blocks:
- Message details (who it’s from, when sent…goes in the header)
- Identity and authority (product data)
- record details (identifies metadata record)
- product identifiers (identifies product that the metadata is about)
- Block 1 – descriptive details
- product form
- special features
- physical size
- DRM, usage contraints
- trade classification
- product parts
- collection titles
- Block 2 – collateral details
- supporting text
- cited material
- supported resources
- Block 3 – content detail (rarely used, for extremely detailed TOC)
- Block 4 – publishing details
- imprint and publisher
- contact details
- lifecycle dates
- copyright details
- territorial rights
- Block 5 – related material
- related works
- related products
- Block 6 – supply details
- market details
- prices and tax
- reissue details
ONIX 3.0 also takes in to account the latest changes in the ebook world. If you’re a publisher, consider using the ONIX feed to easily add and update the metadata that is sent to retailers.
Thad McIlroy (@ThadMcIlroy) says
Given how important ONIX 3.0 is to classifying ebooks, I wonder what your thoughts are on the effect of the publishing industry’s apparent disinterest in moving on from ONIX 2.1?
Well, a couple things. Support for ONIX 2.1 will be reduced in the near(ish) future, so eventually I think most publishers will switch to ONIX 3.0. In the meantime, obviously 3.0 seems like it would do a better job, but I don’t think the disinterest in moving on from ONIX 2.1 is as big a detriment as having inaccurate metadata or metadata that is not updated regularly (or even just a lack of metadata). That said, ONIX 3.0 is better for ebooks, which will make up ~50% of sales in a couple years, and it’s better for online marketing materials, which help drive discovery. So it is in the publishing industry’s best interest to work with this new release; unfortunately the majority of the book publishing industry seems afraid to experiment and slow to try new digital methods/channels. I think now is more important than ever to help drive book and ebook discovery, since books have to compete against websites, games, music, videos, and other content it didn’t have to worry about before. Every little bit helps, and not embracing ONIX 3.0 may set books back.
What do you think?
Thad McIlroy (@ThadMcIlroy) says
Sorry, I just saw your reply…
While we can always offer praise that supporting an old standard is better than not supporting any standard, it still gives me pause to ponder the lack of support for ONIX 3.0, which as you note has “eight key differences from ONIX 2.0.”
Two issues impact the decision:
1. While the described differences of ONIX 3.0 sound sufficiently important to warrant their adoption, perhaps their impact on sales would be insignificant…
The would certainly be insignificant because as far as I can determine
2. None of the ebook resellers even handles ONIX 3 — Barnes & Noble plans to “soon”.