Blogs, podcasts, RSS and Onix

Spent some time looking at the Onix specification again with particular reference to new medium, forums and approaches to the marketing and publicising of a book (in all its forms).

Author blogs have proved (despite the many naysayers) to be a very effective method of informing people about books – This seems to work accross the board in terms of subject area. Although, personally, I find them particulary interesting where they work in an area where a book fosters a sense of community (whether it’s foodies, music fans or any group passionate about their subject) or indeed taps into an avid community that already exists. A good example would be the Robert Scoble book on Blogging itself.

Also, a number of publishers and authors seem to have got the podcasting bug. A quick search on the iTunes store on the word ‘book’ instantly throws up 105 hits. I can freely subscribe to periodically updated information from Penguin (and any number of publishers) about there upcoming books. Whilst still a relatively small portion of the buying public will be subscribing to these podcasts I suspect very much that they would disproportionately represent a demographic that Penguin would want to hit with information about its new books – Podcasting isn’t just the preserve of geeks. I recently read a report saying it was all a waste of time and no one was listening and it would never take off – but if I remember correctly that was what was said about the internet.

Nowhere, in the Onix specification do I see any mention of blogs or podcasting.

And what about the growing use of RSS feeds? How may I define and identify these within the specification as apart from a straightforward website link? Indeed could Onix title infromation be supplied as an RSS feed?

An interesting point raised by a friend of mine in the industry was also that the the Onix specification is based around supplying information as it is related to a ‘product’ (a book to you and I) but more and more the market for publishing information is based around the author. In other words a website is actually interested in a particular author and the relationship to the product is through them.

I have been looking recently at the the new Amazon Connect program which is essentially allowing authors to host their blogs on the Amazon website. These blogs allow them to tell those interested in their books as much about themseleves as they like (Bio, Interests, etc etc.) as well as of course comment on their daily life. Way beyond the simple biographical and qualifications fields that Onix allows to get supplied to the world via the publisher. Indeed, Bookdata in the UK doesn’t even cope with an individual entry for each other aggregating the information sent about all the authors related to a title into one field.

All this highlights the point that the supply of information about a book is not simply the preserve of the publisher; and further is not a one way street as there are now so many ways that the buying public may respond to that information and add their own.

Is it not about time that the Onix specification reflected the reality of the life of books and their related information?


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