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ONIX is a group of product information metadata standards being developed primarily as a method of passing information from publishers to Internet booksellers. It was developed by Book Industry Communication (BIC) in the UK and the Book Industry Study Group in the USA and funded by the Association of American Publishers.

It aims to deliver rich product information: in addition to basic bibliographic data, it can hold reviews, abstracts and summaries, tables of contents and can include links to images (cover images, video and audio files about the author and/or content, sample illustrations and text, etc.). Use of the format has been slower than hoped for, but many publishers can now export in this format. ONIX has been mapped to the MARC format.

The development of ONIX concentrated initially on books; the current version is Release 2.1 available from Feb. 2005. A draft standard for serials was released in 2002, and there are other standards in preparation for Subsidiary Rights and for Videos and DVDs.

ONIX standards use XML as the carrier for the format, and the individual date elements each have an XML reference name and tag. ONIX information about a book is contained in a group of records within an XML file; a message header containing data about the sender and addressee, a product record and main series and sub-series records.

Many of the elements are common to other metadata schemas - author, title, edition, language, subject, audience, descriptions, publisher, dates. Other elements may differ: for example, there are distinctive title, title without prefix, subtitle and translation title, while there are separate date elements for announcement date, publication date and copyright date.

The subject elements hold codes taken from the BIC Standard Subject Categories [link to BIC SSC page in CDF Tutorial]; this set of terms is based on an analysis of the way subjects are typically grouped in bookshops.

Some elements are of specific interest to the book trade. While library catalogue records may contain the height of a book and the number of pages, ONIX also includes weight, as this will affect carriage costs. Other similar specific interest elements are availability, minimum order numbers, discounts, and promotional deals. In contrast to library practice of including series information with the item level record, ONIX attaches series and sub-series records to the product (or item) record.

Example ONIX product record

	<ISBN> 0123456789 </ISBN>
	<distinctiveTitle> Alice in Wonderland </distinctiveTitle>
		<contributorRole> Author </contributorRole>
		<personNameInverted> Carroll, Lewis </personNameInverted>
	<publisherName>Collins </publisherName>
	<publicationDate>2000 </publicationDate>

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Content by: Ann Chapman of UKOLN.
Page last revised on: 25-May-2005
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