ALA2009_Mark Bide (EDItEUR)


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ALA2009_Mark Bide (EDItEUR)

  1. 1. ISBN and E-Books: The Use of ISBN for Electronic Texts “The Changing Standards Landscape” Chicago: 10 July 2009 Mark Bide, Executive Director, EDItEUR
  2. 2. EDItEUR  London-based global trade standards organization for books and serials supply chains  ONIX family of communications standards  ONIX for Books – v3.0 just published  ONIX for Serials (online subscription products including ebooks)  SPS (Products and Subscriptions)  SOH (Online Holdings)  SRN (Release Notification)  ONIX for Publication Licenses  EDI (commercial transactional messaging)  RFID  Secretariat for International ISBN Agency  Brian Green, Executive Director
  3. 3. ISBN – brief history  ISBN system devised in late 1960s  Initially implemented in the UK as the 9-digit SBN  ISO ISBN standard (ISO 2108) first published in 1970  UPC introduced in 1973, EAN-13 in 1977  Universally adopted as the key identifier for books in the supply chain (agencies in 170 countries)  4th Edition of standard published May 2005  13-digit ISBN – 1 January 2007  Explicit guidelines for e-books  Assignment to chapters/fragments
  4. 4. Rules of assignment  “A separate ISBN shall be assigned to each separate monographic publication, or separate edition of a monographic publication issued by a publisher. A separate ISBN shall be assigned to each different language edition of a monographic publication.”  “Different product forms (e.g. hardcover, paperback, Braille, audio-book, video, online electronic publication) shall be assigned separate ISBNs. Each different format of an electronic publication (e.g. “.lit”,“.pdf”, “.html”, “.pdb”) that is published and made separately available shall be given a separate ISBN.”
  5. 5. Why did ISBN set this rule?  Ease of trading  Most book trade e-commerce systems require ISBNs  Certainty of identification is critical for effective e-commerce  Ease of discovery of the different formats available  Bibliographic databases require ISBNs and users do not want to be tied to one channel  Collecting detailed sales/usage data  If separate formats are not identified in a standard way, sales and usage data by format cannot be easily collected
  6. 6. But not all publishers follow the rule  “We only “publish” one generic format (e.g. .epub) and assign an ISBN to that”  “We are not responsible for formats provided by third part intermediaries”  “We don’t care whether or not different product formats are listed in bibliographic databases.”  “Our hardware-led channels do not require standard identifiers and customers will find our books through their preferred platform.”  “Our system requires us to manually create and manage separate ONIX records for each ISBN we assign.”
  7. 7. A brief return to first principles (1)  Identifiers are just a special class of name  Unique within a given context  Why do we assign identifiers?  Collocation – to bring together instances of the same thing  Disambiguation – to distinguish things that are not the same  Why does this matter?  Unambiguous communication…  …particularly from machine to machine  What does “the same” mean?  Whether things are or are not the same is contextual  An ISBN identifies instances as being “the same” for particular purposes – the meaning is not universal
  8. 8. A brief return to first principles (2)  When do we need to use standards for identifiers?  When there is a need to communicate across organizational boundaries – within a supply chain…  …particularly where someone in the supply chain needs to manage and aggregate information from multiple sources  What matters about standard identifiers?  That their semantic purpose should be clear to everyone  In other words, everyone in the chain knows what type of thing they are identifying  So, an ISBN identifies a book, right?
  9. 9. Well, it’s not as simple as that  It isn’t an ISTC, for example  Although publishers have long used a “Master ISBN” within their own systems as a collocator (a concept meaningless in the outside world)  Nor does it identify an individual instance of a book  It identifies a class of objects, not a single one  What is the class?  “Each different format…that is published and made separately available shall be given a separate ISBN.”  So we distinguish hardback, paperback, ebook?  But this implies that for everyone else, all ebooks are equal…which clearly at the moment they are not  eg different devices, different terms and conditions
  10. 10. Will a single eBook ISBN work?  It avoids an explosion of identifiers  Think of all the numbers you might need when you multiply the different potential permutations of content by the number of different formats  But will it work in the supply chain? Not everyone thinks so “Each e-book title should have a unique ISBN for its format and for its vendor. This is necessary to allow librarians to easily discover who is supplying e-books, in what format they are available and through which vendors they can acquire them.” JISC Collections(UK) Consortium for Common Information Infrastructure (the Netherlands)
  11. 11. Some possible solutions 1. Use proprietary product identifiers in the channel 2. Have someone else apply ISBNs in the channel 3. Introduce yet another new identifier… like the music industry has
  12. 12. Vendor-assigned proprietary identifiers  Advantages  Some vendors already apply proprietary identifiers at the level of individual SKUs, so no additional work  Publishers don’t need to bother with proliferation of new identifiers, and can simply issue an “ebook ISBN” (against which vendors report)  Disadvantages  Further along the chain (e.g., in libraries) the identifiers will have no meaning (and may be impossible to manage)  The information available to publishers collecting data simply against a single ISBN may be inadequate  The worst of all possible worlds?  Identifiers which look like ISBNs but are not  A systems driven solution – semantic and technical chaos
  13. 13. Third-party (wholesaler) assigned ISBNs  Advantages  Identifier familiar throughout the chain  Publishers don’t need to bother with proliferation of new identifiers, and can simply issue an “ebook ISBN” (against which vendors report)  Disadvantages  Potentially, considerable confusion – is the channel the correct point of granularity?  Publishers deeply dislike the idea of someone else being allowed to identify “their books”  Nevertheless, some wholesalers are now moving towards getting an ISBN prefix and assigning their own  “We will always prefer the publisher’s format specific ISBN and also will link the parent ISBN [???] to our own prefixed number”
  14. 14. Another level of identifier – the music industry solution  The Global Release Identifier [GRid]  Identifies… “bundles of one or more Digital Resources compiled for the purpose of electronic distribution. It is not used to identify any specific Product which contains such a Release, or individual instances of the Release.”  Purpose: to manage the proliferation of products and the lack of an appropriate standard product identifier  The music industry has never had its own standard product identifier  Has used UPC/EAN
  15. 15. The music industry identification model ISWC Song ISRC Recording Recording Recording Recording Many recordings of the same song
  16. 16. The music industry identification model ISWC Song Song Song ISRC Other content Recording Recording Recording GRid Release Prop. UPC ISRC! Product Product Product Product Many products with the same content, but different technical characteristics, permissions etc
  17. 17. Another identifier for the book industry?  Advantages  Clarity of identification  Disadvantages  Implementation costs and comprehension problems  The reality in the music industry  GRid adoption has been slow  Different labels are applying in different ways  The labels have never been very disciplined in applying ISRC  There is a huge amount of metadata required in reporting  Not simply “10 copies of GRid 123 sold this month”  Standard product identifiers also required?
  18. 18. The next challenge for ISBN – digitisation of the historic print corpus  Millions of books without ISBNs  Should they be applied retrospectively?  By whom?  Digitisations of those millions books (with and without ISBNs)  Should they be given (different) ISBNs?  By whom?  Critical decisions to be made by ISBN community as well as by those undertaking digitisations
  19. 19. Conclusions  ISBN has to resolve some significant challenges if it is continue to be an effective identifier for the next 40 years  We need to find a consensus within the supply chain on the best way forward  Bearing in mind that it is only supply chain pressure that will be effective in “enforcing” the consensus…  …and that this may not be easy if not everyone wants standards  Whatever is decided will be extremely difficult to undo  Lumping is easier than splitting “after the event”…  Short term system constraints are a poor basis for fixing a strategy
  20. 20. Thank you