ONIX for Books is an XML format for sharing bibliographic data pertaining to both traditional books and eBooks. It is the oldest of the three ONIX (publishing protocol) standards, and is widely implemented in the book trade in North America, Europe and increasingly in the Asia-Pacific region. It allows book and ebook publishers to create and manage a corpus of rich metadata about their products, and to exchange it with their customers (distributors and retailers) in a coherent, unambiguous, and largely automated manner.
The organisations responsible for creating the ONIX for Books standard were:
Association of American Publishers
The standard is now maintained and developed for global use by EDItEUR, with guidance from an international steering committee representing the book trade in countries where ONIX is used.
The Onix for Books standard can be used to communicate a great deal more information than most publishers currently choose to provide. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, the standard is designed for use with many different types of book and no single publication is expected to use all of them. The standard also provides for the inclusion of sales and pricing information which a publisher may not wish to freely distribute outside their organization. And while the Onix for Books standard has been around since 2000, many publishers are still getting to grips with producing ONIX messages; the task is made easier if the amount of information provided for each title is kept to a minimum. However, studies have found that a richer selection of metadata enhances sales of books and ebooks.