Comprehensive, accurate, and timely metadata is vital for an efficient industry supply chain.

Graham Bell, Executive Director, EDItEUR

No matter how accessible – or inaccessible – a particular book is, a potential buyer or print-impaired reader needs to be able to select that book with confidence that it will meet their needs. This requires metadata that describes the accessibility features of a particular book. Without that information the reader may not have any clue that a book is accessible. Discoverability is key in the accessibility supply chain and, without it, publishers could lose sales.

Providing high-quality metadata to retailers has been proven to generate extra sales. There is a widely-used standard framework called ONIX for Books which provides definitions for the data elements and a standardised way of communicating them. It provides a lingua franca for publishers and retailers, a common lexicon of metadata terms and a standardised data format. Codelist 196 within the ONIX for Books standard focuses entirely on the granular accessibility features that an ebook may have and has 24 different data elements relating to accessibility available to pubishers.

ONIX is:

  • XML-based, so it’s technologically neutral
  • free for publishers and retailers to use
  • international–it can be used with any language or script, and in any business environment
  • equally suitable for both physical and ebooks
  • comprehensive–it covers everything that publishers need to communicate to retailers
  • well-established, but still constantly developing to keep pace with the evolution of the book market

Given that ebook reading devices and software often provide great accessibility as standard, one of the most important pieces of metadata is confirmation that none of these built-in features have been disabled (deliberately or inadvertently) by the publisher. ONIX allows us to convey this information. There are many other entries in Codelist 196 that can be used in a similar way. Making it clear that a particular product is suitable significantly increases the potential market for a book.