Why can't I map ONIX 2.1 to ONIX 3.0?

What follows is a representative question from a Canadian data supplier as sent to BookNet Canada’s Bibliographic Manager Tom Richardson. Both the question and the response have been edited for clarity. Have your own question? Email us at biblio@booknetcanada.ca and discuss!


I’d like to expedite my company’s transition from ONIX 2.1 to 3.0. I work for a publishing house and therefore supply data to data recipients. Is there a way to convert our existing 2.1 files to 3.0? What conversion tools can we use?


The best way to look at ONIX is to think of data being in your database that you match and convert — in this case map — to this external standard. You then expect an end user to match and convert your best ONIX-based answer to their appropriate database slot based on ONIX definitions. Your accuracy in using ONIX, therefore, should be reflected in the accuracy of their pulling usable data.

ONIX 2.1 and ONIX 3.0, however, are not designed to be "compatible." They’re fundamentally different mappings and if you treat them that way it's relatively easy to make the transition. If you’re trying to use your ONIX 2.1 as interchangeable with 3.0 it will work for about 60% of the data, and for the other 40% it may be similar as it represents the same thing after all, but the best answer is that the map in 3.0 should be different. Normally, it will be handled more simply and with greater potential for accuracy.  

Sale rights remain sales rights held by the publisher. But if, in your data set, you used the typical ONIX 2.1 kludge of using sales rights as a proxy statement for the supplier's rights then you can map it in a fashion to ONIX 3.0. So it was wrong in 2.1 and will remain wrong in 3.0. In addition, the 3.0 solution for improvement, the use of Market Statements in Product Supply, remains unused. In turn, one of the great improvements in ONIX 3.0, supporting Market level dates and status so you can "release" a book with market-specific information, goes unused. But is it common to see that in ONIX 3.0 output? Yes, fairly common. And as a first step, it's not the worst thing so long as you expect it to be that.

So conversion exists: look at the software you use and talk to its creator. They probably support something, but don't expect the conversion to give you the best file to model your ONIX 3.0 output on.