BISG Issues Policy on the Use of ISBNs for E-books

The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) has published a new Policy Statement detailing best practices for assigning ISBNs to digital products. Developed over the past 18 months within BISG’s Identification Committee, Best Practices for Identifying Digital Products addresses the critical need to reduce product identification confusion in the marketplace and provide the best possible consumer-level purchasing experience.

The BISG Identification of E-books Working Group, led by Phil Madans, Director of Publishing Standards and Practices at Hachette Book Group, spent 18 months discussing the myriad ways in which e-books are produced, distributed, and need to be identified in the publishing, distribution, and library marketplaces. The rules for assigning International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN) have been inconsistently applied to electronic books and this variability has created problems with distribution systems based upon ISBN. The new BISG policy statement, when broadly adopted, will standardize the rules for applying ISBNs to e-books and alleviate today’s confusion.

Among the policy recommendations are that the prefix eISBN should not be used, digital books with the same title but different file format should receive different ISBNs, and that identical e-books (i.e., the same format) sold or made accessible by different vendors should use the same ISBN unless there are differentiating factors that justify assignment of a unique ISBN.

Some of the organizations which have indicated support of the BISG policy statement include:

» Book Industry communications (BIC)
» Booknet Canada
» IBPA, the Independent Book Publishers Association
» National Information Standards Organization (NISO)
» U.S. ISBN agency

POL-1101: best practices for Identifying digital products:

O'Reilly Offers Free Publications on EPUB 3 and HTML 5

EPUB is on its way to becoming the defacto format for e-books and the newly released EPUB 3 provides greater support for multimedia and interactive books (if they can still even be called that), which are expected to be increasingly available for the newer tablet readers.

Matt Garrish, an independent consultant who has done work for both the DAISY consortium and the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF)—and a member of the EPUB 3 development team—has authored two short books to aid in understanding the new standard. Both books are available for free download from O’Reilly.

What Is EPUB 3? An Introduction to the EPUB Specification for Multimedia Publishing explains “in a nutshell” what the standard is all about. It describes the underlying web standards and technologies that are used in creating an EPUB e-publication and highlights the changes and improvements that were made in the new version 3 including multimedia, media overlays, scripting, graphic content, globalization, and accessibility.

The second title, Accessible EPUB 3: Best Practices for Creating Universally Usable Content, not only explains how to use the EPUB 3 features to create an “accessible” publication (i.e., one that is usable by people with all types of visual handicaps), but also addresses “why you need to pay attention to the quality of your data, and how accessible data and general good data practices are more tightly entwined than you might think....currently only about 5 percent of the books produced in any year are ever made available in an accessible format.”

Both of the EPUB 3 publications make it clear how heavily the specification depends on HTML 5. although the HTML 5 standard is still a work-in-progress working draft, it is already being used. Sanders Kleinfeld, a publishing technologies Specialist at O'Reilly, discusses the use of HTML 5 in the EPUB standard in his publication HTML 5 for Publishers and explains how it can help publishers add audio, video, mathematics, geolocation, and interactivity to electronic publications.

Download these publications in multiple electronic formats from o-reilly:

What is EPUB 3?:

Accessible EPUB 3:

HTML 5 for publishers:

NFAIS Issues Draft Code of Practice: Discovery Services for Public Comment

The National Federation of Advanced Information Services (NFAISTM) released a draft Discovery Service Code of Practice for review and comment that ended on March 16, 2012. NFAIS believes that discovery services have the potential to provide ease of information discovery, access, and use, benefiting not only its member organizations, but also the global community of information seekers. However, the relative newness of these services has generated questions and concerns among information providers and librarians as to how these services meet expectations with regard to issues related to traditional search and retrieval services; e.g., usage reports, ranking algorithms, content coverage, updates, product identification, etc.

In early 2010 NFAIS was requested to gather information on the experiences and perceptions of its member organizations regarding discovery services—specifically those services that offer an alternative to the simple search capability provided by Google. A survey was conducted, but the results were inconclusive. However, the survey did raise questions and further information gathering showed that each of the existing service providers had their own proprietary system and unique approach to information discovery. As a result, NFAIS members agreed that “it would serve the community to develop a code of practice that would outline the rights and obligations of all participants in a discovery service relationship in order to move forward with an understanding of mutual expectations.”

The code has several objectives:

» Create an awareness of the issues surrounding discovery service relationships and foster an understanding of how these issues can affect each participant in the relationship

» Ensure full disclosure of key information so that all participants in a discovery service relationship will be aware of the complex relationships that exist amongst themselves and the limitations, if any, of the services being offered;

» Provide a set of guiding principles from which contractual terms can be negotiated

» Avoid the disruption of the delicate balance of the interests of all parties involved in the relationship the code is meant to be a set of guidelines for business practices, not a prescriptive standard. It can be accessed at:

New ONIX Specification Supports Exchange of Rights Information

EDItEUR has issued a new message suite in the online Information eXchange family called ONIX for Rights Information Services (ONIX-RS). The suite of XML messages is designed to communicate information about rights, primarily for books.

Many libraries, repositories, and information service providers are digitizing print materials to make them accessible to patrons in electronic format. a critical part of this process involves due diligence searches for the rights holders of the materials and obtaining and documenting any terms for use of the digitized version. Service agencies have or are being established to aid libraries conducting such searches. In Europe, the EC-funded ARROW (Accessible Registries of Rights Information and Orphan Works towards Europeana) project is providing tools and infrastructure to facilitate rights information management. the use of the ONIX-RS message suite can simplify the process of requesting and receiving the rights information.

To date, ONIX-RS messages have been defined for seven XML-formatted request-response pairs of interchanges (14 messages in total) between partners in the rights discovery chain. an accompanying XML schema and related documentation are maintained by EDItEUR.

ONIX-RS is a member of the wider ONIX family of standard formats, particularly ONIX for Books and ONIX-PL. Many of the structures and data elements that it contains have been derived or adapted from other ONIX formats, and it utilizes the same underlying data dictionary. The development of ONIX-RS has drawn heavily upon the work of the EC-funded ARROW (Accessible Registries of Rights Information and Orphan Works towards Europeana) project and the inputs of ARROW partner organizations.

ONIX-RS is available at:

ARROW project:

International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) Agency up and Running

The new standard ISO 27729:2012, International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI), was published in March and a new registration authority, the ISNI International Agency has been established to manage the assignment of identifiers and the associated metadata. By identifying public identities across multiple fields of creative activities, the ISNI unique 16-digit code streamlines content distribution chains, disambiguating natural, legal, and fictional parties that might otherwise be confused.

Libraries have invested enormous efforts over decades in disambiguating creators and sorting their works. Equally important, especially to the creators themselves, is the ability for organizations administering rights to correctly identify who gets what royalty. Now, the ISNI International Agency has a system that will connect the right information with the right person—no matter which name is being used—the same way books with similar or even identical titles have been uniquely identified throughout the publishing and distribution supply chain.

The ISNI system was launched this month with an initial database of more than a million names, created by consolidating data from VIAF (the Virtual International Authority File maintained by 19 major world libraries) and data from 15 other groups, including rights management organizations, professional societies, government grant organizations, and the supply trade.

ISNI’s simplicity is powered by worldwide cooperation among information-laden organizations. The ISNI International Agency was founded by the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC), the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO), the International Performers’ Database Association (IPDA), ProQuest, OCLC, and the Conference of European National Librarians (represented by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and the British Library). The founding organizations include consortia representing more than 26,000 major world libraries, 300 rights management societies, and the research information giants OCLC and ProQuest. They have already begun integrating the new code into their search systems and are taking ISNI to a larger audience by getting researchers involved. Bowker, an affiliated business of ProQuest, is the official U.S. ISBN assignment agency.

ISNI’s free enquiry interface:

ISNI International agency: