Last week Book Business hosted a free webinar (currently available on-demand) and asked industry experts what trends will shape book publishing in 2016. One of those experts was Kat Meyer, director of content development and acquisition at the Book Industry Study Group (BISG). She said that BISG members are most concerned with improving book discovery and user experience. She added that updates to several industry standards, including ONIX 3.0, EPUB 3, and standards created by Schema.org, address these concerns. As these standards are more widely adopted, many of the problems publishers currently face around book discovery and user experience will be resolved.
Here are 3 publishing standards trends Meyer is focusing on in 2016:
Wider Adoption of ONIX 3.0
ONIX 3.0 is the latest standard for describing book information to book retailers, libraries, and individual online buyers. The update, which went live in 2009, introduces metadata that more effectively describes digital book products and eliminates redundant metadata made obsolete by new technology. Meyer said that adopting this standard is critical for solving book discoverability on- and offline. “ONIX 3.0 describes what rights are available for a title, prizes the title has won, links content marketing to the book. . . Really, anything that can help describe or draw attention to your book is captured on ONIX,” explained Meyer.
Integration with Schema.org
A more recent effort to improve online book discovery is the BISG’s work with Schema.org, the collaborative community that sets standards for how search engines find and understand content on the web. BISG is working with Schema to map book information to current Schema standards. This will better integrate books into search, said Meyer. “All of our book titles will be searchable and findable through search engines like Google. This means you have a better chance of people finding your book when they for the author or a topic related to the content in your book.”
A Greater Push for Accessibility
“I think accessibility is the biggest concern for improving the user experience of ebooks,” said Meyer. She explained that there are a number of features -- many of which are mandatory in certain book publishing segments, like education -- that can make books more accessible to readers with disabilities. Features like text-to-voice and audio that describes illustrations are supported by the EPUB 3 standard but are under-utilized, explained Meyer. Rather than publishers retroactively adding greater accessibility to their books, BISG advocates that publishers implement the EPUB 3 accessibility standards at the creation of their book files so that these features can be added as needed with minimum effort.
Looking beyond 2016, Meyer anticipates that online privacy and security, global book sales, and customer relationship management will all become increasingly important topics in the book industry. She added that BISG will be investigating these topics further in the future.