Newsletter July 2019


Frankfurt skyline

EDItEUR’s annual International Supply Chain Seminar, our mini-conference dedicated to metadata, identifiers and content standards for book and e-book publishing, is the essential pre-Frankfurt event for publishers, distributors, booksellers and service providers keen to boost the effectiveness of their business.

Tuesday 15th October, 1:00pm until 5:30 (registration begins at 12:30) The programme is followed by a drinks reception from 5:30
Haus des Buches, Braubachstraße 16, 60311 Frankfurt am Main, Germany 2 minutes walk from Dom / Romer u-Bahn station in central Frankfurt
‘Early bird’ until 28th August via EventBrite Note that ticketing for the Supply Chain Seminar does not include entry to the Book Fair itself for 16th–20th October

The speaker programme focuses on real-world case studies, standards and best practices, and strategies that use technology to extract the most value from the supply chain. The main programme will be followed by a reception for all seminar delegates from 5:30pm onwards.

EDItEUR thanks its partners MVB and Frankfurter Buchmesse for helping to make this event possible.

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ONIX for Books

ONIX Codelists Issue 46 released

One of the key ways that ONIX evolves to meet new business requirements is through the regular release of new codelists. These controlled vocabularies are updated quarterly, in January, April, July and October. To maintain ongoing compatibility, no terms or codes are ever removed from the codelists, although occasionally a code is deprecated – meaning it should not be used in new data – but each release adds new codes that extend the functionality of the ONIX standard.

Issue 46 of the codelists was issued in mid-July, and consists of a mix of new codes and clarifications of the notes associated with existing codes. Some of the new codes include

There is also a workaround to be used when an e-publication usage constraint is itself subject to a start date or end date, and a method to specify the countries of registration and operation of corporate contributors.

The new and updated codes are available from the EDItEUR website here in various file formats (XML, CSV, tab-separated and so on), with documentation in HTML or PDF. A list of the changes is available here. Of course, the changes have also been integrated into the ONIX 3.0 Specification and the Implementation and Best practice Guide, and into the DTD, XSD and RNG schemas and the ‘strict’ schema. These are available here.

The next issue of the codelists is planned for release in October 2019, and suggestions for inclusion should be discussed initially with your ONIX national group, then put forward to EDItEUR by the end of August.

ONIX news in brief

Graham Bell presenting in Edinburgh

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Preparing for Thema version 1.4

EDItEUR has convened a working group that will be reviewing all the proposed additions and changes for the next update of Thema. The group is made up of experts nominated by various Thema national groups and representing different parts of the supply chain.

The working group will look at every suggestion for a new category, discussing each in as much detail as appropriate. It will pay particular attention to whether each proposed new category is a concept that can already be expressed in Thema in enough detail, or whether it is distinct enough from what already exists. The group will also take into account the number of products across the world that could potentially fall into any proposed new category – are there thousands, just a few hundred, or three! As Thema is a subject scheme for the global book trade, not a replacement for the excellent academic library schemes that already exist, it needs to remain manageable in size, and easy for publishing and bookselling staff to grasp. Some of the proposals will also need some assessment of whether Thema is the right place to add a new category, or whether the proposal is something that can already be expressed – or should be expressed – in ONIX. A proposal that seems more about the format of the product than the subject matter, which might only apply to a very small number of books, or which duplicates existing Thema concepts is unlikely to be accepted into the scheme.

The working group will also look at proposed modifications to headings or notes for existing codes, usually to clarify the exact meaning of the subject heading. Such suggestions arise because certain words have caused issues in translations, or where the current wording may be ambiguous. There may be a new way of expressing a concept that has become prevalent, or a trend that needs adding to the scope notes, so that it’s visible when people search for the right code. Some of the proposals received so far have arisen because a user could not find a particular word, either in English or another language, within the scheme and therefore assumed there was no way of classifying the title. This is very rarely the case, but obviously Thema cannot include every single possible term. Part of what the group will also do is to consider adding a wider group of terms and synonyms to the notes associated with each category to improve the discoverability of the categories.

The timetable leading up to the release of Thema version 1.4 is for the working group to review the initial proposals over the second half of 2019, and to submit a draft of 1.4 for study by all the national groups early in 2020. This should allow the meeting of the Thema International Steering Committee to finalise the proposals at its meeting at the London Book Fair. EDItEUR would then aim to publish the updated version in May 2020 – in line with the aim to issue a revision every two years.

As with all of the previous updates to Thema, this version will be fully backward compatible. New codes will be added into the existing hierarchy but no codes will be deleted.

Thema scope notes

Whether you’re implementing Thema in your workflow for the first time, or you’re already using it, then one thing you will have noticed are the notes that accompany a lot of the headings. These are a key part of the scheme. The heading is usually clear and fairly concise, and may be something that is displayed on a public facing website or as part of a menu in an internal system. But the notes are there to detail the scope of a particular heading, to add clarity or explanation on how to use the category in combination with others, or to highlight alternative options. It is essential that these notes are available to you if you are adding Thema codes to your metadata.

The notes often list possible alternative headings or common words associated with these headings. There are broader notes that give guidance on certain use cases for the headings, to make their use as inclusive as possible. There’s also guidance on usage, such as suggesting particular qualifiers to add where they are appropriate.

There are four main types of notes with a more-or-less standardised notation in English:

  1. Class here: these are other subject headings, or alternative headings, to clarify scope
  2. Use for: these are notes that give some extra detail or guidance about use cases for the category
  3. Use with: these are usage notes suggesting which other categories and qualifiers might be combined with the category
  4. See also: cross references to other categories that might be used instead, depending on the content of the title

As an example of how these notes are used:

FBAN – ‘Street’ fiction
Class here: urban fiction. Use for: stories, usually set in urban, inner-city enclaves, that are often dark, focusing on the underside of city life
KCZ – Economic history
Use with: NH* codes if appropriate, & PLACE 1* and TIME PERIOD 3* Qualifiers as appropriate
The NH* in the note means ‘any code beginning with NH’
SVJ – Zoology: birds (ornithology)
See also: WNCB Wildlife: birds & birdwatching: general interest
The See also points out an alternative, in this case linking to a category for books with a more popular treatment of the same subject

Using the Thema multilingual browser at gives you access to the notes, even if your own internal system does not. The Search box searches the text of the headings and the notes – so a search for ‘birdwatching’ finds category WNCB and category SVJ (where that word occurs in the notes).

Thema news in brief

Thema languages

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Codelists updated

The codelists for use with a range of EDItEUR’s serials messages, in particular ONIX-PC, have been updated. This update adds new codes to ensure continuing compatibility with codes used in other EDItEUR messages. Issue 9 of the codelists can be downloaded from the EDItEUR website here.

For previous issues, the codelists have been available in only two formats – readable HTML and the XSD version for integration with the serials message schemas. For issue 9, the lists are also available in a proprietary XML format (similar to that used for ONIX codelists) and as CSV text files.

If you have any queries about ONIX-PC and EDItEUR’S other messages for the serial supply chain, please contact Tim Devenport.

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ISNI International Agency

Recent developments

Provision of management support to the ISNI International Agency (ISNI-IA) is an important part of EDItEUR’s diverse portfolio. Since the last issue of the EDItEUR Newsletter, ISNI has held a summit meeting of national libraries in Paris, attended the annual Music Biz meeting in Nashville to liaise with current and prospective ISNI members, and with EDItEUR, hosted a delegation from the National Assembly Library of Korea for ISNI discussions and a briefing on ONIX and Thema.

ISNIs in the trade book supply chain

There is growing interest in the use of ISNIs within the UK trade book sector. Over recent months the British Library (BL) has sponsored and coordinated a pilot exploring the utility of ISNIs to identify authors and other contributors reliably without the occasional ambiguities of ordinary personal names.

For long-standing and/or well-known authors, it is likely that ISNIs have already been assigned as a side-effect of library cataloguing work, even if they are not yet routinely captured in publisher metadata. For this cohort of authors, the challenge is to map reliably between existing proprietary publisher identifiers and those assigned ISNIs. For first-timers and authors not yet assigned an ISNI, arrangements are foreseen whereby one or more ISNI Registration Agencies can pick up the challenge and supervise ISNI assignments in an efficient and cost-effective way. In a later stage of the pilot, the group also intends to review the use of ISNIs to identify publishers and imprints, inter alia providing better support for royalty collection and other operations.

Working closely with leading UK publishers Hachette, HarperCollins and Penguin Random House, and with metadata specialist BDS, the BL has spearheaded development of automated matching efforts – with initial results encouraging enough to scale up data exchanges later this year. The eventual aim is to kick-start the routine inclusion of ISNIs in the publisher metadata. Other pilot group members Cambridge University Press, Publishers Licensing Services and Nielsen are monitoring developments. For more details, please contact Tim Devenport or the BL’s Head of Content and Metadata Processing Andrew MacEwan.

Start spreading the news…

ISNI news front page

Sometimes we all feel we’re too busy ‘doing’ and not quite active enough in telling others what we’ve done! Earlier this month, ISNI published the first of what it plans to be a quarterly newsletter – ISNI News. This is part of an effort to publicise and promote the use of the ISNI standard, as well as encouraging the exchange of information across the various sectors – text, music, perhaps even filmed entertainment – already using ISNI.

The July issue covered a project underway to make ISNI metadata available in the form of open Linked Data, outreach efforts toward the music industry including the formation of a Music Sector consultative group, and plans for ISNI’s Technical Advisory Committee. Also included was information on several new joiners and profiles of existing Members and Registration Agencies.

If you want to be a part of it… and get future issues of ISNI News e-mailed to you, please let us know. And if you’d like to learn more about the work of ISNI, please drop an e-mail to ISNI Executive Director Tim Devenport (ISNI 0000 0004 5913 7837).

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Forthcoming Events

Digital Book World Conference

10th–12th September, Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, 2100 West End Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203, USA
DBW showcases new products and services, new tools and ecosystems, new revenue streams, new ways of thinking, and a new sense of community. A range of pre-conference workshops will be running on 9th September. Further details from and registration from EventBrite.

41st International Supply Chain Seminar

1:00–5:30pm, 15th October, Haus des Buches, Braubachstraße 16, 60311 Frankfurt am Main, Germany EDItEUR’s annual International Supply Chain Seminar, a mini-conference dedicated to metadata, identifiers and content standards for book and e-book publishing, is the essential pre-Frankfurt event for publishers, distributors, booksellers and service providers keen to boost the effectiveness of their business. Early-bird registration from £130 until 28th August via EventBrite.

Frankfurt Book Fair 2018

16th–20th October, Messe Frankfurt, Ludwig-Erhard-Anlage 1, 60327 Frankfurt am Main, Germany The 2019 Frankfurter Buchmesse will be the Fair’s 70th anniversary, and this year’s Guest of Honour is Georgia. The Frankfurt fair is the world's most important marketplace for print and digital content. The Business Ticket will return to offer a comprehensive range of valuable services and a haven from the crowds. As usual, EDItEUR will be hosting several meetings ahead of and during the Book Fair. For further details and trade ticketing from €60, see

EDItEUR EDItX International Steering Committee meeting

9:00–10:00am, 16th October, Room Consens, Hall 4.C, Messe Frankfurt

The EDItX International Steering Committee is open to representatives of EDItX national groups and other interested parties by invitation. For details, contact Chris Saynor.

EDItEUR Thema International Steering Committee meeting

10:15–12:00noon, 16th October, Room Brillanz, Hall 4.2, Messe Frankfurt

The Thema International Steering Committee is open to representatives of Thema national groups and invited observers. For details, contact Chris Saynor.

EDItEUR ONIX International Steering Committee meeting

1:00–3:00pm, 16th October, Room Facette, Hall 3 Via, Messe Frankfurt

The ONIX for Books International Steering Committee is open to representatives of ONIX national groups and invited observers. For details, contact Graham Bell.

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For further details, contact

Graham Bell, Executive Director, EDItEUR
United House
North Road
London, N7 9DP
Office: +44 20 7503 6418
Mobile: +44 7887 754958

Privacy policy

Alongside the introduction of new European privacy regulations, EDItEUR updated its privacy policy in May 2018. This can be viewed via the EDItEUR website. If you no longer wish to receive updates on EDItEUR’s activities via this e-mailed Newsletter, or if your contact details need updating, then let us know (via Copies of previous newsletters can always be viewed on the EDItEUR website.