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AnnualMeeting09_Bide, Mark (EDItEUR)


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AnnualMeeting09_Bide, Mark (EDItEUR)

  1. 1. Is the ISBN Dead?Exploring the Emergent Standards Landscape: <br />Book Industry Study Group Annual Meeting: September 8 2009<br />Mark Bide, Executive Director, EDItEUR<br />
  2. 2. <ul><li>London-based global trade standards organization for books and serials supply chains
  3. 3. Established 1991
  4. 4. Not-for-profit membership organization
  5. 5. ONIX family of communications standards
  6. 6. ONIX for Books
  7. 7. ONIX for Serials (online subscription products including ebooks)
  8. 8. ONIX for Publication Licenses
  9. 9. EDI
  10. 10. RFID
  11. 11. Manage the International ISBN Agency</li></ul>About EDItEUR<br />
  12. 12. A timely discussion<br />From PersonaNonData(Michael Cairns) August 4th<br />ISBN is Dead<br />I am increasingly concerned about the future health of the ISBN. In its current form the ISBN is not yet dead but therein lies the problem: ‘in its current form.’…<br />As a community, we need to recognize that the ISBN may not be meeting its intended market need and that the future may make this deficiency even more stark. …<br /> Into this mix I would also add that ISBN can no longer stand generally independent of other identifiers, such as a work ID or party ID.<br />
  13. 13. Identifiers – a brief introduction<br />
  14. 14. Why do we need identifiers?<br />Identifiers are “just” a special class of name<br />Unique within a given context<br />Why do we assign identifiers?<br />Collocation – to bring together instances of the same thing<br />Disambiguation – to distinguish things that are not the same<br />What does “the same” mean?<br />Whether things are or are not the same is always contextual<br />For example, an ISBN identifies individual instances as being “the same” for particular purposes – the meaning is not universal<br />Why does this matter?<br />Unambiguous communication…<br />…particularly from machine to machine (people don’t often use unique identifiers in discourse – “that one over there” is usually enough)<br />
  15. 15. When do we need standard identifiers<br />When there is a need to communicate across organizational boundaries – within a supply chain…<br />…particularly where anyone in the supply chain needs to manage and aggregate information from multiple sources<br />That means nearly everyone, particularly in a digital supply chain<br />What matters about standard identifiers?<br />That their semantic should be clear to everyone…<br />…in other words, everyone in the chain knows what type of thing they are identifying<br />So, an ISBN identifies a book, right?<br />Well, no<br />It identifies a product in the book supply chain…but we have tried to make the standard do so much more<br />
  16. 16. The challenge of disambiguation without clarity of identification<br />The “Master ISBN” is a commonly used as a proxy “work” identifier in publishers’ systems<br />The ISBN used to identify both a Work and a Product<br />Not a huge problem in the world of physical products…<br />…but a growing one in the world of digital ones…<br />…where we can add the problem of using the same identifier to identify two (or more) different products <br />Greater granularity substantially adds to the challenge<br />Granularity of digital use….many different products (different ebook formats, different channels, different devices)<br />Granularity of digital content…many different items of content used in different contexts (eg the same content used in many different learning objects)<br />
  17. 17. Identity and interoperability<br />Identity is the critical item of metadata for interoperability…<br />…“Are we talking about the same thing”?<br />The book industry recognized this very early – using the ISBN to identify products…<br />…but then unfortunately went on to use the ISBN to identify everything else…<br />…and built systems that were entirely ISBN-centric<br />Internal requirements for interoperability between systems are not the same as external communication requirements<br />Never allow your operational flexibility to be limited by the limitations or requirements of existing standards<br />You must be able to identify what you need to be able to identify within your own systems how, when and where you need to identify it! <br />…and, of course, to be able to identify the same entity with standard identifier when this is an appropriate<br />
  18. 18. ISBN – why have we run into problems & how can we escape?<br />
  19. 19. ISBN Rules of assignment<br />“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.”<br />“Different product forms (e.g. hardcover, paperback, Braille, audio-book, video, online electronic publication) shall be assigned separateISBNs. 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.”<br />
  20. 20. Why did ISBN set this rule?<br />Ease of trading<br />Most book trade e-commerce systems require ISBNs<br />Certainty of identification is critical for effective e-commerce<br />Ease of discovery of the different formats available <br />Bibliographic databases require ISBNs and users do not want to be tied to one channel<br />Collecting detailed sales/usage data<br />If separate formats are not identified in a standard way, sales and usage data by format cannot be easily collected<br />
  21. 21. But not all publishers follow the rule<br />“We only “publish” one generic format (eg .epub) and assign an ISBN to that”<br />“We are not responsible for formats provided by third party intermediaries”<br />“We don’t care whether or not different product formats are listed in bibliographic databases.” <br />“Our hardware-led channels do not require standard identifiers and customers will find our books through their preferred platform.”<br />“Our system requires us to manually create and manage separate ONIX records for each ISBN we assign.”<br />
  22. 22. Will a single eBook ISBN work?<br />It avoids an explosion of identifiers<br />Think of all the numbers you might need when you multiply the different potential permutations of content by the number of different formats<br />But will it work in the supply chain? Not everyone thinks so<br />“JISC Collections has ample feedback from the library community saying that they need accurate identifiers to manage the e-books they are acquiring, and they have a need to distinguish between versions in different formats available from different vendors, both now and in the future. As a matter of urgency, e-book publishers, intermediaries and industry bodies need to find a stable, standardised way to do this. The market will be much less interested in purchasing products that they cannot manage effectively”.”<br />JISC Collections(UK) Consortium for Common Information Infrastructure (the Netherlands)<br />
  23. 23. Some possible solutions<br />Use proprietary product identifiers in the channel<br />Have someone else apply ISBNs in the channel<br />Introduce yet another new identifier…<br /> like the music industry has<br />
  24. 24. Vendor-assigned proprietary identifiers<br />Advantages<br />Some vendors already apply proprietary identifiers at the level of individual SKUs, so no additional work<br />Publishers don’t need to bother with proliferation of new identifiers, and can simply issue an “ebook ISBN” (against which vendors report)<br />Disadvantages<br />Further along the chain (eg in libraries) the identifiers will have no meaning (and may be impossible to manage)<br />The information available to publishers collecting data simply against a single ISBN may be inadequate<br />The worst of all possible worlds?<br />Identifiers which look like ISBNs but are not<br />A systems driven solution – semantic and technical chaos<br />
  25. 25. Third-party (wholesaler) assigned ISBNs<br />Advantages<br />Identifier familiar throughout the chain<br />Publishers don’t need to bother with proliferation of new identifiers, and can simply issue an “ebook ISBN” (against which vendors report)<br />Disadvantages<br />Potentially, considerable confusion – is the channel the correct point of granularity?<br />Publishers deeply dislike the idea of someone else being allowed to identify “their books”<br />Nevertheless, some wholesalers are now moving towards getting an ISBN prefix and assigning their own <br />“We will always prefer the publisher’s format specific ISBN and also will link the parent ISBN [???] to our own prefixed number”<br />
  26. 26. Another level of identifier – the music industry solution<br />The Global Release Identifier [GRid]<br />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.”<br />Purpose: to manage the proliferation of products and the lack of an appropriate standard product identifier<br />The music industry has never had its own standard product identifier<br />Has primarily used UPC/EAN (and proprietary identifiers)<br />Advantage: clarity of identification<br />Disadvantage: implementation costs and comprehension problems<br />The reality in the music industry<br />GRid adoption has been slow<br />Different labels are applying in different ways<br />…but is beginning (after several years) to be widely applied<br />
  27. 27. ISTC – the solution to textual work identification?<br />
  28. 28. What is the ISTC for?<br />The purpose of the International Standard Text Code (ISTC) is to enable the efficient identification of textual works. The ISTC provides a means of uniquely and persistently identifying textual works in information systems and of facilitating the exchange of information about those works between authors, agents, publishers, retailers, libraries, rights administrators and other interested parties, on an international level.<br />The ISTC may be applied to any textual work, whenever there is an intention to produce such a work in the form of one or more manifestations. It provides an identification data element for applications that record and exchange information about textual works and related manifestations. For example, the ISTC may be used for the purposes of collocating subsequent manifestations of the same work or derivations of the same work in applications involving electronic rights administration or information retrieval.<br />
  29. 29. Rules of assignment<br />Textual works that are eligible for an ISTC include any distinct abstract entity, predominantly composed of a combination of words, that can be described to satisfy the ISTC metadata requirements. In order to be assigned an ISTC, the declared metadata for any textual work at the time of registration shall contain at least one element pertaining to the work itself that distinguishes it from every other textual work to which an ISTC has already been assigned.<br />If two entities share identical ISTC metadata, they shall be treated as the same textual work and shall have the same ISTC.<br />
  30. 30. The challenge of a standard work identifier for books – different identity model requirements<br /> Different constituencies have different functional requirements – so may have a different view of the necessary granularity:<br />Publishers may need to collocate all the different manifestations of the same edition of a book they publish<br />Retailers may need to do the same…or may need to collocate all the different editions of “the same work” from many different publishers<br />Librarians may need to collocate the same work, but distinguish between what FRBR calls different “expressions” of “the same work” <br />Rights management organisations may need to distinguish between different versions of “the same work” because of differences in rights ownership <br />
  31. 31. A soluble problem?<br />Yes… but at the expense of rather more sophisticated metadata management than we are used to<br />Many relationships have to be created and managed<br />And what about the problems of “fragments” of text…<br />…or photographs<br />Serious system implications for everyone who needs to manage the ISTC<br />[and ISTC will need to find a sustainable economic model]<br />
  32. 32. ISNI – the next one to watch?<br />
  33. 33. International Standard Name Identifier<br />From a draft of the “Draft International Standard” (DIS)<br />This International Standard specifies the International Standard name identifier (ISNI) for the identification of public identities of parties; that is, the identities used publicly by parties involved throughout the media content industries in the creation, production, management, and content distribution chains.<br />The ISNI system uniquely identifies public identities across multiple fields of creative activity and provides a tool for disambiguating public identities that might otherwise be confused.<br />The ISNI is not intended to provide direct access to comprehensive information about a public identity but can provide links to other systems where such information is held.<br />
  34. 34. Primary drivers behind ISNI<br />Library name authority projects [VIAF]<br /> Rights management <br />Across the media<br />Has implications (eg) for the Book Rights Registry<br />Requires the development of unique identities for publishers and imprints<br />Has potential retail application but has not been the main driver<br />“Other books by this author” <br />
  35. 35. What should you do about ISNI?<br />Probably simply “watch this space”…<br />…and think about the implications for you from a systems perspective if the system is widely implemented<br />If you want to influence, you need to engage through your national body (NISO in the US)<br />Moving towards the end of the process<br />
  36. 36. Some conclusions<br />
  37. 37. An inward looking view<br />Identifiers support interoperability between systems; if all those systems are within the same organization, then identifiers can (and should) be proprietary <br />Nobody (other than you!) cares much about how your DAM communicates with your distribution system or your royalty system<br />Don’t allow external constraints to dictate internal system requirements<br />Standards are for external not internal interoperability<br />Short term system constraints are a poor basis for determining a strategy<br />However persuasive those arguments are at a time of financial constraint<br />You can identify things with the same identifier as long as you are happy always to treat them as being “the same thing” – but when you need to distinguish between them, using the same identifier will cause you problems<br />Whatever you decide will be extremely difficult to undo<br />Lumping is easier than splitting “after the event”…<br />
  38. 38. An outward looking view<br />As you need to communicate with other people’s systems, standard identifiers become increasingly helpful – particularly in supporting unambiguous many to many communication.<br />Common syntax<br />Common “identity model”<br />No single constituency in the supply chain makes decisions about the identifiers that are going to be applied, it requires consensus<br />It is only supply chain pressure that will be effective in “enforcing” the consensus…<br />…and remember that some constituencies will be more powerful than others<br />Don’t take an existing identifier and try to use it for something for which it was not designed<br />It won’t work<br />You risk creating complete chaos….<br />
  39. 39. An extended version of this presentation can be heard on a free BISG webcast next Tuesday, September 15th<br />Register at<br />Thank you<br /><br />