Good news on digital identification

The publication of the Book Industry Study Group’s policy statement on the identification of digital products this week is good news for the standards community – and, we hope, for the book trade in general. The document recognises the merit of the arguments put forward by the International ISBN Agency and consistently supported by BIC that granular identification – as granular as it needs to be for everyone in the supply chain, including consumers – is essential to ensure a robust supply chain for digital distribution and to avoid ambiguity.

It wasn’t always certain that it would happen this way. It has taken four years since BIC and BISG collaborated on a white paper by Michael Holdsworth arguing for one ISBN for each digital format – and two years since BIC published its code of practice for the identification of e-books – for that policy to be formally endorsed in the US. Indeed, when BISG began the research programme eighteen months ago which has finally led to this publication, there was still very vocal opposition to it.

With this powerful ammunition now favouring a standard approach, it is profoundly to be hoped that those companies which have resisted the new policy will fall into line. BISG have bravely proposed that this should happen by the end of March 2012. It will be fascinating to see how this plays out.


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