Wednesday, December 07, 2011

BISG Policy Statement on ISBN Usage

The Book Industry Study Group after long deliberation and incredibly astute consulting has announced its policy recommendation for the use of ISBNs for digital products (Press Release):
This BISG Policy Statement on recommendations for identifying digital products is applicable to content intended for distribution to the general public in North America but could be applied elsewhere as well. The objective of this Policy Statement is to clarify best practices and outline responsibilities in the assignment of ISBNs to digital products in order to reduce both confusion in the market place, and the possibility of errors.

Some of the organizations which have indicated support of POL-1101 include:

  • BookNet Canada
  • National Information Standards Organization (NISO)
  • IBPA, the Independent Book Publishers Association
CLICK HERE to download
 Close readers of this blog will recall the work done by the identification committee of BISG:
In the spring of 2010, BISG's Identification Committee created a Working Group to research and gather data around the practice of assigning identifiers to digital content throughout the US supply chain. "The specific mandate of the Working Group was to gather a true picture of how the US book supply chain was handling ISBN assignments, and then formulate best practice recommendations based on this pragmatic understanding," said Angela Bole, BISG's Deputy Executive Director. "Around 60 unique individuals and 40 unique companies participated in the effort. It was a truly collaborative learning process."

Noted Phil Madans, Director of Publishing Standards and Practices for Hachette Book Group and Chair of the Committee in charge of developing the Policy Statement, "It was quite a challenge to bring some measure of consistency and clarity to what our research revealed to be so chaotic and confused that some even reported thinking ISBN assignment should be optional--a 'nice to have'. This, clearly, would not work."
The initial consulting report was discussed publicly about 12mths ago and I summarized that presentation in this post from January 17, 2011.

These were the summary conclusions from that presentation:
There is wide interpretation and varying implementations of the ISBN eBook standard; however, all participants agree a normalized approach supported by all key participants would create significant benefits and should be a goal of all parties.

Achieving that goal will require closer and more active communication among all concerned parties and potential changes in ISBN policies and procedures. Enforcement of any eventual agreed policy will require commitment from all parties; otherwise, no solution will be effective and, to that end, it would be practical to gain this commitment in advance of defining solutions.

Any activity will ultimately prove irrelevant if the larger question regarding the identification of electronic (book) content in an online-dominated supply chain (where traditional processes and procedures mutate, fracture and are replaced) is not addressed. In short, the current inconsistency in applying standards policy to the use of ISBNs will ultimately be subsumed as books lose structure, vendors proliferate and content is atomized.


Thad McIlroy, The Future of Publishing said...

I posted on it today. I think that they did the very best they could do in an extremely challenging situation.

Anonymous said...

These are essentially the same guidelines that BIC communicated to the UK and International scene some years ago.