What's New in Bibliographic Standards

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

2024

ONIX Codelist Issue 64 (January 29)

Please see the full list of changes here. There is also a list of past changes. Please remember that ONIX 2.1 codes remain locked at Issue 36 and new codes are not available to it for shared lists.

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:

  • Issue 64 stand-alone codelist documentation as an HTML file (open and read it in your web browser)

  • Issue 64 TXT, CSV, XML, JSON files for loading into your data management applications

  • Issue 64 XSD, RNG, DTD schema modules for use with existing XML schema files (but note that it is better to download the latest 3.1 schemas since they incorporate a couple of small improvements as well as the new Block 8)

  • The ‘strict’ XSD 1.1 with Issue 63 (the strict XSD must be updated each time there is a new issue of the codelists, as It includes some codelists within the XSD itself)

  • The online browser for the ONIX code lists at https://ns.editeur.org/onix has been updated to issue 64.

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

2023

2023 BISAC Subject Codes (December)

The 2023 BISAC Subject list is available from BISG (free to their members) at https://www.bisg.org/purchasedownload-complete-bisac-list and can be viewed in full online at https://www.bisg.org/complete-bisac-subject-headings-list.

For more information see the BISG Subject List, on-line reference and general information. Refer also to the document with the changes from the 2022 edition.

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.

When should a publisher update their list? 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 the following Feb / March is fairly safe. If you've coded your biggest title with a new BISAC Subject, get confirmation that your partners are ready to accept the data.

Endorsement of BISG’s Statement on Misuse of the title and subtitle fields (December 7)

BookNet Canada, through the National Bibliographic Committee, has endorsed the Book Industry Study Group’s (BISG’s) Statement on Misuse of the title and subtitle fields: A reminder on best practice in supplying marketing copy. “BookNet Canada agrees that the BISG statement on Title and Subtitle Misuse addresses a real problem common in current book metadata. It is frustrating to see effective and simple dedicated-for-its-purpose metadata options for online marketing go unasked for by retailers and not implemented by publishers who then resort to stick-the-promo-copy in the book title. It reduces the effectiveness and usability of book metadata for everyone.”

ONIX 3.1 (April 4)

Read BookNet’s blog or please see the full announcement here.

Please see the full list of changes here.

For full background, an overview of the message structure, and a summary of key differences between Release 2.1 and Release 3.0/3.1, read the Introduction to ONIX for Books 3.1 here.

To download the latest Specification, XML schemas, a detailed Implementation and Best Practice Guide, samples and supplementary guidelines, go to the Release 3.0 and 3.1 Downloads page here .

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

2022

BookNet Canada & BISG's BISAC TO Thema Translator updated to support BISAC 2021 and Thema 1.5 (July 13, 2022)

The BNC BISAC to Thema Translator is available at http://bisactothema.biblioshare.org/

To find our more about the Translator, an introductory blog post is available at http://www.booknetcanada.ca/blog/2014/4/24/introducing-bncs-bisac-to-thema-translator.html.

Thema Version 1.5 Released (April 2022)

Thema Subject Codes are modified in major updates - 1.5 is the current. This version contains new core subject categories and new qualifiers (including new national extensions), plus numerous improvements to the wording of headings and notes, but it retains full backward compatibility with version 1.4 (no existing data needs to be modified or updated).

Version 1.5 released April 2022 (new core subject categories; updated national extensions)
Version 1.4 released April 2020 (new core subject categories; updated national extensions)
Version 1.3.2 released April 2019 (updated national extensions)
Version 1.3.1 released Fall 2018 (updated national extensions, includes Canadian updates suggested by the French language group)
Version 1.3.0 released May 8, 2018 (new subject categories)

Documentation available from EDItEUR at: https://www.editeur.org/151/Thema/

Documentation available from BookNet Canada at: https://booknetcanada.atlassian.net/wiki/spaces/UserDocs/pages/5767332/Thema+Subject+Codes

2021

2021 BISAC Subject Codes (December 2021)

The 2021 BISAC Subject list is available from BISG (free to their members) at http://bisg.org/page/PurchaseBISAC and can be viewed in full online at http://bisg.org/page/bisacedition.

For more information see the BISG Subject List, on-line reference and general information

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.

When should a publisher update their list? 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 the following Feb / March is fairly safe. If you've coded your biggest title with a new BISAC Subject, get confirmation that your partners are ready to accept the data.

ONIX 3.0.8 Released (June 30, 2021)

This updated specification is fully backwards-compatible with earlier releases of ONIX 3.0, so existing ONIX messages remain valid. There are no mandatory new features, and no new deprecations. The Production detail features are isolated in a distinct Block 8 (which occurs between Blocks 5 and 6 in message order).

Complete documentation for the new release can be downloaded from the EDItEUR website:

2019

US ISBN Agency to Start Using 979-ISBNs in 2020 (November 2019)

979 ISBNs have been in limited use in the Canadian supply chain for several years – most distributors have a few dozen in their inventory. Currently ISBN Canada has not issued any and has no plans to start. The US, however, is running out of 978 ISBN-13 and could begin issuing 979s as soon as January 2020. We can anticipate their increased volume in our supply chain over the next year or two and when one of the major US publishers gets their first block we can expect explosive growth. 

It's hard to understand why this should be a problem as it's just another GTIN-13 number assigned to the International ISBN Agency but at standard meetings it's reported that some publishing systems did not allow for the difference. 

Here are a few pointers.

  • 979 ISBNs are NOT compatible with ISBN-10. See why here but by definition all ISBN-10s converted to ISBN-13 must start with 978 so only 978 ISBNs can have an ISBN-10.

  • Automated systems often include programming to ensure that all records carry alternative identifiers so matched sets of ISBN and GTIN-13 are created. If those processes supply both ISBN-13 and ISBN-10 they may not have allowed for the existence of 979. That can mean automation is creating a problem without your being aware of it.

  • The ideal and simplest solution for data suppliers is to stop supplying ISBN-10 as they are no longer a relevant identifier in our supply chain. However, like any change, you should first notify your trading partners of your intent and there is a persistent belief among companies that other companies continue to need them.

  • It's unlikely that US 979 ISBNs will become a major problem in the early in 2020. If there's a need there's still time for orderly change. It is really-really-really and thrice-truly-truly time for all companies in all sectors to stop using ISBN-10.

  • Fun facts: 979-8 has been assigned exclusively to the US Agency and 979-0 is assigned to sheet music. There's no word on what 979 prefixes will be assigned to English Canada.

ONIX Version 3.0.7 released (October 31, 2019)

Attached: Changes for ONIX 3.0.7.pdf 

  • This is an addition of a new Block 7 Promotional details and it has new tags assigned as P.27

  • It's placement in the ONIX tree is between Block 2 (Marketing & collateral) and before Block 3 (Content)

  • The placement is logical as it's about book promotion and comes after marketing & collateral but there's no easy way to avoid it be out of numerical order as a block or P number.

  • As expected the Block PromotionDetail cannot repeat (only Block 6 Product supply can repeat to allow for multiple market support) but it contains the PromotionalEvent composite that can repeat.

  • This "Events" section is specifically about promotional events – book signings, author tours, media appearance – and transmitting information in advance of the event (The Block 1 P.8 Event section is for books about Events or Conferences)

  • The Promotional Event composite can repeat for different events and each event has to have at least one composite but can contain multiple dates in an Event Occurrence section. The above documentation and the ONIX manual provide a full explanation.

There are a few other tweaks – a new addition to Prize to support Regional prizes as well as new HTML support in Prize Statement. Text Content now supports "Text Source Description" to allow for context to be added to a reviewer so their name and credentials can be communicated separately. Several other tweaks are listed in the document above.

ONIX Version 3.0.6 released (April 24, 2019)

Attached: Changes for ONIX 3.0.6 

This is an exceptionally small revision (see below for notes on the Fall 2018 Version 3.0.5 release). There were two additions

  • a Measure composite to Product Part (needed because knowing the size of each component in a multiple part product can be important)

  • URL links in Website composites can now repeat to provide language support. (Use of the Language attribute in ONIX 3.0 allows for, say, the main description to be provided in more than one language – so separate composites where the only difference is the language used in the description. URLs can also link to different languages so the element WebsiteLink is now allowed to repeat within the Website composite if a Language attribute is provided.)

This release had a plan for a promotional event section that was dropped due to a lack of consensus among the national groups. Anyone with a particular interest in having this a tradable within ONIX (or not) should get in touch with BookNet: biblio@booknetcanada.ca to let us know. BNC knows we need to support this and are working at developing it within BNC CataList but it's not currently expected within ONIX in the near future.

2018

Revised Best Practices for Keywords in Metadata: Guide for North American Data Senders and Receivers (February 2018)

A revised edition of the BISG authored and BNC endorsed document been published, chock-a-block with examples, samples and sage advice. You can get yours at https://bisg.org/store/viewproduct.aspx?id=6972954.

2017

Revision completed to ISO ISBN Standard (December 2017)

We're now at the 5th edition of the ISBN standard and it's not revised often so this is big news on our most important identifier. This revision was over 2 years in the making. Download the new version of the ISBN User Manual (the seventh edition as of January 2018) at https://www.isbn-international.org/content/isbn-users-manual.

It's only 34 pages long and genuinely helpful. You can also find the very helpful ISBN FAQ.

The new Standard contains:

  • expanded guidance on assignment to digital publications

  • revised metadata specifications which now bring these in line with ONIX 3.0

  • expanded terms and definitions sections

  • further clarity on the scope of eligible products

  • detailed guidance on the granularity of individual products and the impact on ISBN assignment, such as changes in usage constraints (allowing printing of some pages of a digital publication or lending to a friend), or different product form details (jacketed versus unjacketed hardback)

  • an informative annex about how to make ISBN resolvable on digital networks using persistent identifiers, such as expressing an ISBN in DOI or URN

  • explanation about the conditions of compliance when implementing ISBN

If you need more information on ISBN head over to BookNet Canada's ISBN page

New interactive code list lookup sites available

EDItEUR supports both ONIX Code lists and Thema Subject and Qualifier lists with dedicated lookup sites, complete with their notes. Pro tip on using either of these in any form: read the notes! You can't know the intent of the value without them and using precisely defined metadata is fundamental to any business exchange. The description is not intentionally misleading but the notes give clarity. Use your software drop downs as reminders of for the definitions the notes provide and these interactive look-ups make it easy to check. (A little prompt to developers: You should think about how to integrate note access into your ONIX systems and these might help.)

ONIX 3.0 (updated with every code issue): https://ns.editeur.org/onix/en

ONIX 2.1 (locked to Issue 36): https://ns.editeur.org/onix36/en

Interactive Thema code list site: https://ns.editeur.org/thema/en

New addition to the Canadian Bibliographic Standard (January 2017)

BookNet Canada's Date Recommendations for Canadian Publishers is available at https://booknetcanada.atlassian.net/wiki/display/UserDocs/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.

2013

Best Practices for Identifying Digital Products updated (February 2013)

An excellent document from 2011 is fully updated and made clearer and more specific: BISG Policy Statement POL-1101: Best Practices for Identifying Digital Products.