What is RFID?
Radio Frequency ID technology uses a tag, consisting of a tiny chip and antenna, to carry data that can be interrogated by a reading device. The RFID tag can be inserted in a book as part of the binding process or attached as part of a label and will uniquely identify each copy of a book.
The other main benefits over the barcode are that the data can be read from multiple tags simultaneously, over a small distance, without line of sight and that the RFID tag can also double as a security device. This means, for example, that the contents of a box of books can be read and listed without opening the box, that bins or shelves of books can be scanned for stocktaking purposes and that a pile of library books can be scanned simultaneously for self-checkout or return.
In the library world, RFID is already in wide use, providing automated library check-out and return, sortation and inventory.
In the book trade supply chain, RFID is still in the early stages of implementation but the potential of built-in security tags and automated inventory control from beginning to end of the supply chain, greater efficiency and fewer errors in order fulfilment, more accurate freight tracking and proof of delivery, simplified goods inwards and EPoS, are already being demonstrated in pilot projects and some larger scale roll outs.
Unfortunately, since the requirements of libraries and trade are quite different, separate standards are emerging for each community.