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Data exchange is never static. Here are some recent changes to best practices and standards that the industry is implementing.

ONIX Codelist Issue 37 – the first ONIX 3.0 only code release!

Released April 6, 2017.

The next code release, 38, is expected July 2017.  Requests related to Issue 38 should be passed to BookNet before May 5, 2017.

Remember: The ONIX 3.0 schema's Codelist files and the Codelist documentation files will no longer contain the ONIX 2.1 only codes lists and codes. Here's a  link to the ONIX 2.1 Release Archive where you can still access final version of ONIX 2.1.

For your reference:  Here is a list of the ONIX 2.1 only Codelists that were dropped from Issue 37 for ONIX 3.0:  
6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 26, 33, 35–40, 47, 52, 54, 56, 63, 75, 78, 94. 95, 101

These Issue 37 Codelists were modified to drop ONIX 2.1 only codes:
List 1 has had codes: 12, 13, 14 removed
List 51 codes: 14, 15, 36 removed

Additions and changes in Issue 37 (applies to ONIX 3.0 only):

This document list all changes added to Issue 37:  ONIX_BookProduct_Codelists_Issue_37_Changes.pdf   There are some special case additions and numerous changes made to the note section to clarify meanings.  Reading the full document is encouraged.  Here are the highlights:

  • List 65 Availability – a new code has been added "Not yet available, postponed indefinitely" that allows a forthcoming title to be listed as "forthcoming" when its publication date is unknown in support of List 64's code "03"
  • List 81 Product content type – modifications have been made to ensure that codes are not restricted to digital products.
  • List 93 Supplier Role includes 3 new codes for physical suppliers to support drop shipments and direct to end-customer support.
  • Accessibility support is improved with additional codes in List 196 and List 175

Stay current: Update your Codelists, schemas and documentation regularly

Complete listings of the ONIX codelists in PDF and HTML formats can be downloaded from the EDItEUR website:

ONIX 2.1 documentation, codelists and schemas:

ONIX 3.0 documentation:

Need help finding the documentation?  Finding and Using the ONIX Manual

New addition to the Canadian Bibliographic Standard
January 2017

Date Recommendations for Canadian Publishers

ONIX 2.1 is now a completely static standard

January 2017

As of Code Issue 36 January 2017 EDItEUR will no longer update future ONIX 2.1 schema to include new "shared" code lists.  In short: New codes in Issue 36 are part ONIX 2.1, but any new code in Issue 37 or after will not be.

Functionally this means that the ONIX 2.1 schema published by EDItEUR in January 2017 includes Issue 36 codes but will never be changed after this point. This marks the end of the extended twilight support offered by EDItEUR.   Therefore:  BNC BiblioShare will continue to process ONIX 2.1 as usual, but will base all future processing on the last published schema for Issue 36.

2016 BISAC Subject Codes

November 2016

A new version, 2016 BISAC Subject codes, was released supporting 4582 codes in total.  By the numbers the changes are:

  • 93 Codes added (new subjects)
  • 1 Code reactivated (was previously made inactive, now restored)
  • 11 Codes were made inactive
  • 68 Literals were updated (codes remain the same, definition tweaked)

For more information see the BISG Subject List, on-line reference and general information.  The BISAC to Thema Mapping will be released later.

The general expectation is that the industry will update their records – including backlist -- to reflect these changes.  BISAC Subjects are designed to support retailers and as a list represents a snapshot of what a retailer needs to know, today.  By updating your records yearly you ensure retailers can make the best use possible of all your records.  The above changes only represent 4% of the list. This year, unless you publish graphic novels or histories of Great Britain you likely won't have many changes.

Creators and users are reminded that 2015 represented a major change to the BISAC Subject Codes with the addition of specific support for Young Adult subjects.  If you didn't update last year, don't put it off this one.

When should a publisher update their list is always a question:  If a trading partner hasn't updated their system data can be lost, or sometimes the record won't get loaded, so it's good to give retailers time to up and generally publishers updating by Feb / March is fairly safe.  If you've coded your biggest title carried a new BISAC Subject I'd get confirmation that my partners were ready to accept the data.

Thema version 1.2, updated August 2016 with Chinese national extension

The latest version of Thema, version 1.2, released April 2016, has had a major update with Chinese national extensions.  See details here: Changes for Thema August 2016.pdf

See more about using Thema here:  Thema Subject Codes

BNC THEMA to BISAC Translator Updated

Released March 2016 – the translator supports BISAC 2015 to Thema version 1.1.  

While each standard is updated yearly, BISAC releases a new version in Nov / Dec and Thema updates in March / April.  This makes syncing the two standards problematic.  The translator is updated based on word done by BISG in January and February making it out of date foe Thema around the same it's released. Care should be taken to try to incorporate changes to Thema on with it's yearly release.

Read more here:

Active 979 ISBN-13s are in BiblioShare now

October/November 2015

There's only a few of them, but they represent real books actually being bought and sold in Canada today. Up to now any 979 ISBN in our data had been a test or a typo and not being traded. So let's pause for a moment and mark the functional end of the ISBN-10 in North America.  It's been a long run and a good time.  

Any company with a report based on ISBN-10 (Mother BookNet knows they're out there still and doesn't judge) should convert it to an ISBN-13 based one.  Up to now you could still convert a 978 ISBN-13 to a unique ISBN-10 but you can't do that with a 979 ISBN-13 – there is no corresponding ISBN-10 to a 979 ISBN-13.

It is recommended that all companies test their systems to ensure that they really are ready for 979 ISBNs – funny things can happen when your primary identifier starts with new digits.


Best Practices for Product Metadata: Guide for North American Data Senders and Receivers


A joint BookNet Canada / BISG document that defines the 32 most important pieces of data exchanged in the North American market, provides detail for ONIX 2.1 and 3.0 and offers advice on all product types including print and digital.  

What's New In Bibliographic Standards

It and the EDItEUR ONIX for Books Implementation and Best Practice Guide for ONIX 3.0 (which can be used as a reference to understand many aspects of ONIX 2.1) should be the primary documents used by anyone using or implementing ONIX in North America.

Best Practices for Identifying Digital Products updated

February 2013

BISG Policy Statement POL-1101 -- Best Practices for Identifying Digital Products

An excellent document from 2011 is fully updated and made clearer and more specific.

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