ONIX for Books: A New Revision in Version 3.0.3

In May 2016 EDItEUR released its third revision to the ONIX for Books specification: Version 3.03.

As explained here, the changes are modest — which is not to say insignificant! The EDItEUR newsletter notes that version 3.0.3 “broadens the range of metadata elements that can be carried in an ONIX message, meets some new or expanded requirements, and avoids adding unduly to the complexity of ONIX.”

There are a few implementation details to note:

  1. All the changes are entirely optional and backward compatible – any ONIX message conforming to ONIX 3.0, 3.0.1 or 3.0.2 also conforms to 3.0.3.
  2. This release of ONIX 3.0 requires the use of Codelists Issue 33 or later (discussed in the next blog post).
  3. Existing implementers of ONIX 3.0 should be able to handle receiving 3.0.3 messages. I put an emphasis on “should” as a there are a couple of provisos described in the documentation (PDF file).

As EDItEUR executive director Graham Bell explains in a presentation here (PDF), the big change in 3.0.3 is the data element <PriceConstraint>, used for specifying terms and conditions of sale. The details of how this element is used are complex, reflecting the increasing complexity of the conditions of online sales and the increasing internationalization of the bookselling business.

SteinToklasFurther adjustments to how pricing is specified is included in the restructured element <UnpricedItemType>.

My favorite revision in version 3.0.3 surrounds extensions to the element <NameAsSubject>. The title of a biography doesn’t always identify the subject of the biography. Perhaps the most prominent instance is Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, which was in fact Stein’s autobiography “written in the guise of an autobiography authored by Alice B. Toklas, her life partner.” Stein’s name appears as author but adding her to <NameAsSubject> makes it certain who the book is mostly about.

One of the new extensions to this element is <ProfessionalAffiliation>. The use case is where the company or institution affiliated with the biographical identity is important to the value of the book. An obvious example is Barack Obama’s autobiography Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. The book’s subject’s name doesn’t appear in the title, but even more importantly, that the book is about a president of the United States is essential to appreciating the book’s importance. This is his <ProfessionalAffiliation>.

Get hold of the documentation (PDF file): it’s only 9 pages. There are 13 key additions and changes and six minor ones.

Up until now the dot revisions to ONIX 3.0 have appeared roughly every two years. At that pace version 3.04 might join us around the summer of 2018.

Comments are closed.

Site concept and implementation by JF Content