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Expected Ship Date and Availability Date

This is a subject that has been raised in training sessions I’ve run recently. The confusion between what is meant by the Onix element Expected Ship date and the separate Availability Date and how this square with the Publication Date (if at all!).

This is the query from a member of the Onix Group:

‘I am currently placing an availability date into j142 which, I believe, does not represent a true ship date as j142 is intended. Our Information system and our Vista system describe the availability date, for example, as the date when the product is being reprinted or reissued etc and is initially set to the publication date and in some cases is set blank for RPN with no date.

Is it possible that the availability date and the ship date are two entirely different values, For example, if we had to ship a product to Australia it would have to be shipped some months before the publication date.

Where can I provide both a ship date and an availability date in the ONIX feed.’

And the reply from the Onix committee:

‘The “expected ship date” element is, I suggest, to be interpreted as the date at which – in the market to which the Supply Detail element applies – the local distributor expects to ship orders to retailers. For a new title, isn’t this to all intents and purposes the publication date in that market, except where there is an embargo on retail sales before a specified date? If there is such an embargo, then the “on sale date” should be sent as well. In the absence of an embargo, the book is effectively published as soon as it ships from the local distributor.

Where a UK publisher is shipping to retailers in the UK and to a local distributor in an overseas market like Australia, and is providing ONIX Supply Detail elements for both the UK and Australia, the “expected ship date” for the UK should be the UK publication date, and the “expected ship date” for Australia should be the Australian publication date, ie the date at which the Australian distributor would be in a position to supply to retailers.

I realise that the nomenclature “expected ship date” is a bit misleading, and I can’t now remember how and why it was chosen in the very early days of ONIX development. The handling of publication dates in different markets is one of the things that has been identified to be addressed in ONIX 3.0.’

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