eBooks: Why they break ISBNs

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Discussion of the disjoint between the print world identifiers called ISBNs and the digital world. This was a presentation given at Kohacon10 in Wellington October 2010

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eBooks: Why they break ISBNs

  1. 1. eBooks: Why they break ISBNs Stuart Yeates http://www.nzetc.org/
  2. 2. Digital Publishing It's different from print publishing
  3. 3. Who we are ● Unit of the Victoria University library ● Digital (re)publisher of documents used in teaching, learning and research ● TEI/XML, tomcat/cocoon/XSLT ● Out-sourced digitisation ● In-house authority control
  4. 4. Demo 1 Search “ture pooti”
  5. 5. Demo 2 Search “William Williams”
  6. 6. Demo 3 Search “Robin Hyde”
  7. 7. ePubs ● Open standard for eBooks ● A zip file of all the same stuff you can put on a static website ● DAISY metadata for naviation ● XHTML, CSS, etc ● We create ePubs by crawling our website ● Device not page does navigation ● grep dimensioned measurements from CSS
  8. 8. ISBNs ● Widely used in the print world to track editions ● Issued to publishers by a bureaucracy ● Used end-to-end in supply chain ● Printing, wharehousing, distribution, wholesaling, retailing, purchase, cataloging, circulation, …
  9. 9. Print Runs ● 99% of the time in traditional prublishing ISBNs are print run identifiers ● Print runs are extraordinarily expensive ● Print runs are a speculative gamble on the part of publishers ● Print runs have no direct analogue in the pure- digital model
  10. 10. What's an edition? ● Currecting a single-character OCR error? ● Authority control change in body? ● Authority control change in metadata? ● Decreasing image quality? ● Increasing image quality? ● Factual corrections?
  11. 11. What's an edition? ● It doesn't matter because all non-commercial ePubs are “digital photocopies” and don't quality for ISBNs anyway.
  12. 12. What kind of identifier do we need?
  13. 13. Free of bureaucracy ● Arguments about what an “book” / “eBook” is ● Arguments about what an “edition” is ● Arguments about jurisdiction (cloud, ISO, etc) ● Baked-in assumptions about who produces what, why and for whom ● $$$ to support
  14. 14. Enormously plentiful ● Many more things appear to qualify as eBooks than books ● ISBNs are being reused ● Versions / updates ● NZETC: 1300 works x regenerated monthly
  15. 15. Naïve hashes insufficient ● “Use an hash of the ePub as the identifier” ● Needs to be an identifier not the identifier ● The identifer can't be used within the ePub ● Many tools in the tool chain alter the ePub
  16. 16. Questions ● Does a bookseller's sticker on a book make it a “different” book? ● Does an author's signature? ● Does the intended market?

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