ONIX for Books
The Onix for Books standard provides a format for passing descriptive metadata about books between publishers, book retailers and other interested parties in the publishing industry. Metadata concerning one or more book titles can be stored in a suitably formatted file known as an 'ONIX message' ready for dissemination. Whereas other data standards exist for storing the contents of a book - the text, layout and graphics - the Onix for Books standard holds information about the book, similar to, but more extensive than, the information one would typically find on the cover of a printed book. The Onix for Books standard provides a way to store and communicate information about a book's author, publisher, price, publication date, physical dimensions, synopsis and many other details besides. The standard is quite extensive and most publishers currently provide only a few dozen of the many hundreds of pieces of information that the standard is designed to store.
The organisations responsible for creating the ONIX for Books standard were:
- Association of American Publishers
now joined by:
- Book Industry Study Group (BISG) in the US
- Book Industry Communication (BIC) in the UK
ONIX for Books Release 1.0 was published in 2000. Revisions were made in releases 1.1, 1.2 and 1.2.1.
Release 2.0 was issued in 2001. A backwards-compatible version, Release 2.1, arrived in 2004.
Three minor revisions have been made since then, the most recent in January 2006.
Release 3.0 was published in April 2009, the first minor revision was issued in January 2012. It was expected by its authors to come into general use in 2010. They have also stated that any new revisions will be based on, and backwards-compatible with, Release 3.0.
The Onix for Books standard can be used to store a great deal more information than most publishers currently choose to provide. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, the standard is designed for use with many different types of book and no single publication is expected to use all of them. The standard also provides for the inclusion of sales and pricing information which a publisher may not wish to freely distribute outside their organization. And while the Onix for Books standard has been around since 2000, many publishers are still getting to grips with producing ONIX messages; the task is made easier if the amount of information provided for each title is kept to a minimum.
The principal consumers of ONIX data are book retailers and wholesalers as well as those supplying them with book data. Many of those organizations specify the minimum set of ONIX data they will accept and how they wish to see that data presented. A partial list of these organizations is included in the External Links section, along with links to their published submission guidelines.
Guidelines for submitting ONIX data: