Product Form and ebooks

At Industrial Press I am in the process of working on their initial Onix feeds and they have a great many products which are a mixture of a print book with a contained item of a CD ROM which has on it an ebook. I posted this query to the Onix group in hope of some guidance as the current Product Form elements don’t really accurately deal with the issue. I have included the response which may be of benefit to others.

—–Original Message—–
From: ONIX_IMPLEMENT@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ONIX_IMPLEMENT@yahoogroups.com] Sent: 13 June 2006 13:35
To: ONIX_IMPLEMENT@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [ONIX_IMPLEMENT] Product Form and eBooks

I have a lot of products which are ebooks which are supplied on CD-
ROM – For my product form should I categorise them as a DG (ebooks)

Many thanks for any advice.

Response from Howard Willows at Nielsen Bookdata in the UK:
This raises an interesting issue and highlights an inconsistency in the “format-related” code lists, which we should probably look at in the current review of Code Lists if we have time or may have to roll over until the next full release of ONIX (Release 3.0). I think this inconsistency has emerged through the organic and case-by-case way in which these code lists have been developed, and may not have been present if all of these lists had begun life at the same time.

Indeed, this inconsistency may prove to be unavoidable for good pragmatic reasons, but we should look at it at least to provide guidance for users.

Essentially, most of the Product Form values in List 78 are to do with the physical nature of the product, or the means of delivery in the case of non-corporeal items. You can then add values from other lists, for example:

List 10 and 11 to indicate e-publication types and formats

List 78 Product Form Detail to identify particular variants (sizes of paperbacks, specific computer game types, etc)

List 81 Product Content Type to indicate the contents consist of an audiobook or other audio, or a game, etc.

(also Lists 79, 80 and 82 with which I am less concerned here).

But the same type of information is held in different lists, and different types of information are held in the same lists.

For instance, why should “audiobook” be a Product Content Type, when “e-book” is a Product Form? In the first case, you are expected to give precedence to the carrier – ie it is an audio-cassette or audio CD or (increasingly now) an online resource – and then provide the supplementary information that the contents of the carrier comprise an audiobook. In the second case, you are expected to give precedence to the contents – it is an e-book as distinct from any other kind of digital item, and then use Lists 10 and 11 to give information about its format.

The same issue arises about digital maps. Should we say it is primarily a map, and add that it is digital, or that it is primarily a digital item that happens to be a map? Both bits of information are crucially important.

There is a principle here that as Product Form is the dominant and most widely used element of all the format-related elements, you should use this to give the clearest possible indication of what “type of thing” the product is – given the values currently available.

To get back to the case in question, the problem is that the two things you want to say are in the same List. It seems to me however to be most pertinent to say that these products are e-books (DG). I say this because choosing DG seems more likely to prompts you to look at the elements in PR.4 and select the appropriate values in List 10 and 11.

Of course this option gives you no means of being able to say that they are CD-ROMs in any structured way, only in a free text comment – but then you would be similarly restricted if you used DB (CD-ROM) and then looked for somewhere to say they are e-books.

Given a more consistently arranged set of lists however, I could envisage something like:

Product Form: CD-ROM
Product Content Type: e-book
Digital Item Format Type: PDF

Hope this is useful. What do others think?

Howard Willows
Nielsen BookData


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