ONIX 3.0 Raises Standard for Ebook Metadata
Over the past decade, ONIX for Books has become all but ubiquitous -- a lingua franca of metadata for book publishing in North America, Europe, and increasingly in the Asia-Pacific region. The XML-based standard provides a common language for communication between publishers, retailers, and various intermediaries. ONIX allows book and ebook publishers to create and manage a single body of rich metadata about their products, and to exchange it with their customers in a coherent, unambiguous, and largely automated manner. As a result, ONIX reduces costs across the whole supply chain and contributes to an overall improvement in metadata quality through benchmarking and certification programs.
Yet dramatic changes in the publishing landscape in the past ten years mean that the most widely implemented version of ONIX is not well-fitted to today's global book business. ONIX 2.1 -- as used by almost all North American implementers of ONIX -- has proved remarkably resilient given it was designed in the days when reading an ebook meant toting your Palm Pilot or navigating a PDF on Windows 97. In contrast, the latest version of ONIX, version 3.0, is designed for this decade.
At the beginning of 2012, the international committee that steers ONIX forward affirmed its confidence in ONIX 3.0 and agreed on a "sunset date" for ONIX 2.1 at the end of 2014. This afforded publishers and retailers three years notice before support for ONIX 2.1 would be phased out to ensure that budgeting and technical development could be orderly and unhurried. Yet the rate of adoption of ONIX 3.0 in North America is still relatively slow and any organization without a clear migration plan now has some catching up to do.
Following is an explanation of why ONIX 3.0 is better suited to our times and why publishers and retailers should switch to the updated standard sooner rather than later. [Editor's Note: For clarification on any of the terminology used here, turn back to the Metadata Glossary on page 15.]