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E-book Special Interest Group

The NISO E-Book Special Interest Group is made up of dozens of participants from all parts of the NISO community: librarians, publishers, services for publishers, and software vendors. As described in the initial press release, the E-Book SIG will explore a range of industry best practices and standards related to the creation, distribution, discovery, delivery and preservation of digital book content. We envision that the E-Book SIG will have a fluid life, easily lasting beyond 2012.

The primary responsibilities of the SIG will be to continously monitor and review the state of the industry for e-books and to suggest areas for new initiatives within NISO or areas where NISO can engage with other communities on e-book work underway outside of NISO. The group will also host thought leader meetings and commission relevant research to advance the state of the industry.

Anyone may participate in the E-Book SIG via the Core group or the Observer/Monitor Group, as membership will remain open. Observers may switch to the Core group (and the reverse) if desired. It's possible to join the observer/monitor mailing list or express interest in joining the Core group.

During August, we created several topic-specific subgroups, mainly to encourage active participation where members were most interested.  These subgroups were determined based on the results of an unscientific survey of members of the Core group. Current discussion subgroups are:

  • Accessibility issues
  • Discovery Tools and Linking
  • Distribution (EPUB, PDF, Web & others)
  • Metadata General (ONIX, MARC, PREMIS, METS, Dublin Core, PMH, etc.)

We do plan to discuss further topics in a few months' time.  A kickoff meeting for Core participants took place on July 19, 2011, and discussion/brainstorming calls for subgroups took place during August.  A webinar on August 30 for all members, Core and Observers, provided an update on the topical calls. See recording information for the webinars below. As of the beginning of September, we're planning further  subgroup meeting schedules for the fall.

July 19 Core group webinar

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  1. Go to
  2. Enter the following:
    • Recording ID: 8B6652
    • Recording Key: B"f?8M8

August 30 General webinar:"f%3F8M8

If you have trouble with the above link:

  1. Go to:
  2. Enter the following:
    • Recording ID: 2N5G5T
    • Recording Key: B"f?8M8

We welcome comments and questions about the E-Book SIG at

Statement of Intent

While NISO is best known for shepherding groups focused on a specific problem through the creation and implementation of recommended practices and standards, NISO as part of its new strategic plan is seeking to widen its outreach within the information industry. Specifically, the NISO Board of Directors and Architecture Committee seek to emphasize NISO’s role as a facilitator within the industry, one that can foster cross-community dialogue in a given topic area and provide a place for the incubation of ideas—even if no formal standards process within NISO is ever initiated as a result.

One outcome of the NISO Architecture Committee meeting at the 2011 ALA Midwinter Meeting was the identification of e-books as an important topic area for NISO’s active support, even beyond its current activities. Another outcome was the acknowledgement that, although the current Topic Committee structure (Business Information, Content & Collection Management, Discover to Delivery) works well for most purposes, but the investigation and exploration of more complex topics that cut across two or more of these groups (such as that of e-books) cannot be easily accommodated in the current structure.

For these reasons, NISO is creating an E-book Special Interest Group (E-book SIG) that cuts across all three Topic Committees and includes stakeholders from across the industry. The focus will be on both e-book content as well as delivery.

Currently, NISO is already engaged in e-books in a number of areas including NISO and ISO standards projects related to formatting, markup, and distribution; licensing; education; and publications. See NISO and E-books: Current Areas of Engagement for a detailed listing and descriptions. NISO’s E-book SIG, which will help to coordinate and support these current activities, will also be exploring the larger context in which events are unfolding, including the following foundational questions:

  • How can NISO actively facilitate cross-community dialogue in the e-book area, building bridges between what are now separate, sometimes disparate groups?

  • How can NISO work collaboratively to provide education and information to assist with this dialogue?

  • How can NISO actively foster “incubation teams” to identify specific pain points in the e-books realm that could be remedied through formal standards, recommended practices, dissemination of information (e.g., via white papers, educational workshops, professional forums, Thought Leader meetings, etc.) either through NISO or another agency?

To start, the NISO E-books SIG will identify and start outreach to the communities within the library, publishing, vendor, and trade industries actively engaged in some aspect of e-books development and support. We encourage any organization actively engaged in this area and wanting to be kept actively informed of the NISO E-books SIG’s work to contact the NISO office at

NISO and E-books: Current Areas of Engagement

NISO's new E-book SIG will help to coordinate and support NISO's current activities in the e-book realm as well as exploring new areas of opportunity and facilitating collaborative ventures. Some areas where NISO has already engaged in the topic of e-books include:

  • DAISY – The NISO DAISY Revision Working Group has drafted an update to ANSI/NISO Z39.86, Specifications for the Digital Talking Book, into a broader standard on an Authoring and Interchange Framework that provides a modular, extensible architecture for the creation of any number of content representation models, still supporting accessibility but also useful for a general audience of e-book users. The revision has been issued as a Draft Standard for Trial Use through September 28, 2011. The DAISY Working Group is also holding discussions with IDPF regarding whether the EPUB standard (see below) could provide the needed delivery functionality for the envisioned Part B of the DAISY standard. For more information on DAISY, visit:

  • SERU – The SERU Standing Committee has begun work on a revision to its recommended practice, (NISO RP-7-2008, SERU: A Shared Electronic Resource Understanding) to better allow the use of SERU with e-books. Although the original SERU guidelines deliberately focused on subscriptions, in the two years since SERU was published, several libraries and publishers have successfully used SERU for back-file purchases and e-books. The revision will broaden the subscription-centric language of SERU and update it for use with other types of electronic resources. For more information on SERU, visit:

  • KBART – The joint NISO/UKSG Knowledge Base and Related Tools (KBART) Working Group is exploring the use of OpenURLs for e-books as part of their second phase recommendations. The knowledge base, which consists of data supplied by content providers including publishers, is central to the efficient operation of OpenURLs. Phase I report provided minimum recommendations to effect smoother interaction between members of the knowledge base supply chain. With increased use of OpenURLs to point to e-books or link from citations within e-books, KBART will specifically be reviewing metadata transfer for e-books as part of Phase II. For more information on KBART, visit:

  • Open Annotation & Social Reading – In partnership with the Internet Archive, NISO will co-host two fall meetings on annotating of e-books and the necessary standards to support open sharing of e-book annotations among different devices and communities. These meetings will take place in conjunction with the Frankfurt Book Fair and the Books in Browsers conference, both in October 2011. More information will be posted to the NISO 2011 Events webpage as it becomes available.

  • Identifiers – NISO, on behalf of ANSI, serves as the Secretariat for the ISO Technical Committee 46, Information & Documentation, Subcommittee 9 on Identification & Description (TC 46 / SC 9), where the core identifiers and metadata structures are created and managed for the supply change of media content, including ISBN, DOI, and ISTC. This is also where new identifier structures would be launched internationally to support the distribution of content. NISO is also engaged in discussions with organizations such as the International ISBN Agency and the Book Industry Study Group (BISG)regarding the assignment of ISBNs to e-books. (BISG has released a research report on the identification of e-books conducted by Michael Cairns. The International ISBN Agency has issued Guidelines for the Assignment of ISBNs to E-books.) For more information on TC46/SC9 visit:

  • EPUB – NISO has been holding discussions with the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) regarding formal standardization of EPUB 3.0 either through NISO or ISO TC46. NISO has also been engaged in an ad hoc working group led by the ISO & IEC Joint Technical Committee (Information Technology), Subcommittee 34 (Document description and processing languages) that is discussing international standardization of EPUB. The DAISY Consortium is the maintenance agency for both NISO's Digital Talking Book standard and EPUB and has been working with IDPF to incorporate needed provisions into EPUB for it to be used as the delivery mechanism for DAISY content (see above).

  • Book Metadata – In partnership with OCLC and with their generous support, NISO retained Judy Luther (President, Informed Strategies) to investigate how publishers and libraries could work together to improve the flow of metadata throughout the book publication and delivery cycle. Following the release of Luther's white paper, Streamlining Book Metadata Workflow, NISO participated in the Symposium for Publishers and Librarians held March 18-19, 2009 at the OCLC Conference Center to discuss issues surrounding the metadata needs for libraries and the publisher supply chain.

  • ISQ – The Spring 2011 issue of NISO's Information Standards Quarterly (ISQ) magazine will focus on e-books and be available in open access in mid-June. Guest content editor for the issue October Ivins (Consultant, Ivins eContent Solutions) has lined up an excellent selection of articles covering EPUB 3.0, the DAISY revision, e-book acquisition in libraries, and e-book publishing by academic presses. A number of articles related to e-book topics have also been published in past issues of ISQ, all of which will shortly be available in open access.

  • Education Programs – NISO is currently planning several education events that address e-books and has held several past events.
    • Future Events:
      • The E-Book Renaissance: Exploring the Possibilities Exposed by Digital Books a two-day forum on October 24-25, 2011, in Baltimore, MD Visit the event webpage. 
    • Past Events:
      • The Changing Standards Landscape of E-books: This half-day free NISO/BISG Forum on June 24, 2011, in New Orleans before the ALA Annual Conference will focus on on common synergies between publishers and libraries in the critical areas of e-book content identification, discovery and format. Visit the event webpage.
      • Patrons, ILL, and Acquisitions: A 2011 webinar focused on patron-driven acquisitions (PDA) of e-books. View presentation slides. 
      • Unprecedented Access: A 2010 webinar that addressed how to make content, in particular e-books, universally accessible. View presentation slides. 
      • E-Books: A Rapidly Evolving Marketplace: A 2009 webinar that explored Creation, Formatting, and Distribution Options for e-books as well as business issues and trends in the digital book landscape. View presentation slides. 
      • The Changing Standards Landscape for E-books: A 2009 NISO/BISG forum on important standards initiatives and needs in the e-book marketplace. View presentation slides. 
      • Digital Resources: Working with Formats Beyond Serials: A 2008 two-day forum on e-book issues such as formats, metadata, pricing models, and licensing. View presentation slides. 
      • For three years in the late 90s to early 2000s, NISO co-hosted with NIST an annual e-books conference, which drew upwards of 200 people.

E-Book Annotation Sharing and Social Reading

Final Grant Report: Standards Development Workshops on E-Book Annotation Sharing and Social Reading (narrative)

The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) and the Internet Archive hosted two meetings on the topic of Standards Development for E-Book Annotation Sharing and Social Reading with the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. These meetings were held in conjunction with the Frankfurt Book Fair in Frankfurt, Germany, and the Books In Browsers Meeting in San Francisco. Both meetings were held in October 2011 on the 10th and 26th respectively.

The two meetings advanced the discussions around the system requirements for annotation sharing, which includes significant technical challenges of citation location and systems interoperability. However, more critical than common understanding of the technical issues will be agreement on the development and implementation of a consensus solution, which points to the need for community-based standards in this area. In addition to generally advancing knowledge of the issues and potential solutions, one key goal of the meeting was to bring the key parties together and begin to advance the process of agreement on standards on this topic.

The meetings also centered on advancing two specific goals: 1) providing input to a NISO-sponsored working group on its scope, goals and any initial work the group undertakes; and 2) the advancement of a syntax specification that will be further vetted by a standards working group for how bookmarks and annotations are located in digital books and shared with other readers. This second item was identified by the pre-meeting discussion group as the most critical need.

These workshops are an outcome of an invitational planning meeting to discuss issues surrounding bookmarking and annotation and possible areas for standards held on May 26, 2011 at the Kimmel Center, New York University, during the week of the Book Expo conference. Approximately 20 participants representing scholars, scholarly and technical publishing, e-book software and hardware vendors, online book services, and foundations met for more than five hours to discuss existing projects such as Open Annotation Collaboration, the general annotation landscape, and further requirements and desirable features for workable standards that could be quickly, easily adopted by a broad range of industry participants.

The Frankfurt Book Fair Meeting

October 10, 2011
Congress Center Messe Frankfurt (CMF)
Conference Room "Illusion 1+2" in the Congress Center, Level 3
9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The Frankfurt Book Fair is the world’s largest trade fair for books, e-book technologies, rights and licenses. The Book Fair draws more than 7,300 exhibitors from 100 countries, 299,000 visitors and over 10,000 journalists each year to the Frankfurter Messe; publishers of every type and size are represented. In 2011, the main Book Fair was held on October 12-16, 2011. A variety of industry meetings began on Tuesday, October 11, including a Tools of Change preconference, an EDItEUR Supply Chain preconference meeting, and a meeting for educators entitled “Learning Moves!”


Introducation & Discussion Topics Presentation (Todd Carpenter)

Reading is a Social Activity Keynote (Todd Carpenter)

Open Annotation Collaboration Background presentation (Robert Sanderson via Todd Carpenter)

EPUB Activities on Annotation (Markus Gylling)

Books in Browsers Meeting

October 26, 2011
Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel

Launched in 2010, Books in Browsers (BiB) is a conference hosted by the Internet Archive in San Francisco. In its first year, BiB drew 120 publishers, librarians and toolmakers from nine countries for a two-day working meeting. The second BiB conference was held on October 27-28, 2011, again in San Francisco. Many of the technologists involved in electronic publishing will likely attend the BiB meeting, whereas Frankfurt, while it is a considerably larger meeting, is less focused on e-books and technology.

NISO Annotation Meeting (San Francisco)

View more presentations from Robert Sanderson

E-book Bookmarks and Annotation Standards Planning Meeting (Todd Carpenter)

Developing a Standard for E-book Bookmarks and Annotation Sharing (Todd Carpenter)

EPUB 3 Annotations/Linking Port-Mortem (Bill McCoy)


The same agenda outline was used for both meetings, although the speakers were different.

Welcome & Introductions – 10 minutes

Peter Brantley (Internet Archive) & Todd Carpenter (NISO)

Keynote presentation: Encouraging social reading through standards – 30 minutes + 5 minutes Q&A

Purpose: To provide a high-level view of the challenges and opportunities facing annotation of digital texts.

Description of ongoing projects & prior art – 35 minutes

Purpose: To ground the conversation in real-world concerns, applications and implementations that are in development or production.

3 presentations ~10 minutes each with Q&A

10:20 – 10:45

How an annotation sharing system might work - A review of annotation syntax options, transfers and tools – 30 minutes

Purpose: To explore options for annotation.

Technical issues of annotation sharing – 30 minutes

Purpose: To highlight some of core technological challenges and desired solutions.

Social norms and issues of annotation sharing – 30 minutes

Purpose: To highlight the social, sharing and end-user use cases for annotation. How will scholars, researchers and students uses these developing tools?


Roundtable discussions of specific issues

Purpose:Engage the participants in the issues that were discussed in the morning. Determine if there are themes and enthusiasm for/against any discussed approaches.

2 tables each on technology/syntax, systems integration & social norms

Report of consensus from roundtable discussions

Purpose: Gather opinions from all of the participants on the four themes of social norms, technical issues, proposed/available syntax systems

Led by roundtable group representatives

Group discussion of consensuses roundtable: What it means and how it might work

Purpose: As a group, discuss the priorities, syntax option and strategies for moving forward.

Facilitated by Peter Brantley (Internet Archive) & Todd Carpenter (NISO)

3:15 – 3:30

Discussion of NISO standards initiative process & activity to date

Purpose: To focus attention on how consensus is reached and how to engage.

Nettie Lagace (NISO)

Closing roundtable & Discussion of next steps

Purpose:To tie together the themes of annotation syntax, the systems integration and how it assists or inhibits sharing, as well clarification of the use cases and systems needs related to sharing annotations. Try to tease out recommendations that can be communicated to a NISO working group.

Keynote and other speakers, plus invited experts

Closing remarks

Peter Brantley (Internet Archive) & Todd Carpenter (NISO)


Committee Roster

Approved by the NISO Architecture Committee, May 4, 2011



Julie Anderson

Collections and Research Librarian
Legislative Assembly of Ontario

Tullio Basaglia

Library Section Leader
European Organization for Nuclear Research

Bill Carney

Shared Print Community Liaison
OCLC Online Computer Library Center

Tara Cataldo

Associate University Librarian
University of Florida Libraries

Eleanor Cook

Assistant Director, Collections & Technical Svcs
East Carolina University

Ravit David

Distinctive Collections Librarian, Scholars Portal
University of Toronto Libraries

Susan Doerr

Associate Director
University of Minnesota Press

Jo Flanders

Learning Resources Serials Librarian
St. Cloud State University

Stella Griffiths

Executive Director, International ISBN Agency
International ISBN Agency

Judy Hutchinson

Assistant Secretary, Information Access Branch
Parliament of Australia

Michael Kim

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)

Laura Krier

Principal Metadata Analyst
California Digital Library (CDL)

Jie Li

Assistant Director for Collection Management
Unaffiliated Participant

Bill Maltarich

Head, Collection Development
New York University Division of Libraries

Carol Meyer

Business Development and Marketing Manager

Alistair Morrison

Manager of Library Applications
Johns Hopkins University, Sheridan Libraries

Anne Nolan

Electronic Resources Coordinator
Brown University

Angela Sidman

Electronic Resources Systems Librarian
The City University of New York

Leslie Taylor

Reference/Technical Services Librarian
Queen's University Faculty of Law

Tracey Thompson

Assistant Manager of Library Operations
Metropolitan Library System

Mary Beth Weber

Head of Central Technical Services
Rutgers University Libraries

Laura Wrubel

Electronic Resources Content Manager
George Washington University, Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library