DLF forum, bowker presentation

At the DLF forum, I saw a presentation from someone who’s name I forget from Bowker, where I learned two simple things very interesting to me.

I learned about the plans for an International Standard Text Code (ISTC), sort of like an ISBN but applies at the FRBR “expression” level, grouping a set of ISBNs. (Although Bowker seems to call what it applies to a ‘work’, it is in fact meant to apply only to things that are ‘textually identical’, which is what we call the expression level. It is also only meant to apply to textual material, not audio, video, etc. She claimed that audio and video already had something similar, although it wasn’t widely adopted. I know nothing about this?) This would potentially be quite useful, of course, to have an expression level identifier from the ISBN people. It also makes me think of how it might harmonize or not with the library world’s plans for ‘frbrization’–it’s being done for the needs of the publishing and sales industry, like ISBN. Of course, right now there’s not much for it to harmonize to in the library world, just talk.

I’ve been having writer’s block on writing the essay I intend about identifiers and ‘access points’. I think I need to stop thinking of trying to write the perfect essay and just put my unfinished sketchy notes on the blog, because I think it is a important topic–especially for talking about how what we’re doing relates to what everyone else is doing. We need to use compatible language and compatible mental models.

Anyway, the second interesting thing I learned is that a few months ago Bowker released a web service for accessing ISBN metadata. Which is packaged with Books in Print, meaning it’s free to anyone who already has an online Books in Print subscription (many if not most of us). I don’t know the details, but am eager to find them out and play with the service.

I like that pricing idea–hey, they’re already paying lots of money for BiP, they shouldn’t need to pay even more to get 21st century methods of access to that same content they are already paying for, we should instead improve the service to 2007 levels. If only more of our library vendors worked like that. Instead, we are often in the situation where the software we pay a fortune for is stuck in 1985, and if you want modern software you’ve got to purchase and continue to pay licensing and support for an additional add-on “product”. Ridiculous, and almost all of our vendors do it. (Perhaps the market requires them to do it that way to stay in business–if so, the market is doomed and their time in business is limited anyway. Hopefully not along with ours.)

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5 Responses to DLF forum, bowker presentation

  1. Peter Murray says:

    Jonathan —

    Please post a follow-up if you find out more about the ISBN metadata web service. I did some initial poking around the Bowker sites, but couldn’t find anything about this….

  2. jrochkind says:

    Peter, So I followed up with Angela D’Agostino from Bowker, and I can share this documentation with you (which I haven’t looked at yet):

    BIP meta data: http://bms.bowker.com/help

    BIP cover images: http://imageweb.bowker.com/rest/images

    Apparently there’s a cover image service too. Hmm.

    While I got the impression that BiP licensees were automatically licensed to use these services, now I’m not so certain that’s true. Angela gave me temporary authentication credentials to demo these services, but I am trying to follow up on exactly what the general license terms are. Now that I know there’s a cover image service, I am particularly interested in how that is licensed exactly.

  3. Peter Murray says:

    Thanks for the follow-up! Bowker’s documentation on authentication is pretty skimpy; it says it uses HTTP Basic Authentication, but doesn’t give any clues on how to go about getting credentials. Did you get the impression that Angela is the contact at Bowker to pose these kinds of questions to?

  4. jrochkind says:

    Yeah, so on further communication, you don’t automatically get permissions to use these services by having BiP, but they’re business model is to include it with BiP subscription packages, and not neccesarily as a huge extra charge. It sounds like they are still working out exactly what the business implications will be, like everyone, but if you have an existing substantial (not neccesairly single-seat) BiP license, you can _probably_ get the services added on to your package at no extra charge. That’s the message I’m getting, and they have been friendly and open in discussing it with me so far.

    I’m not sure who to contact. I guess officially it would be your BiP sales representative, but, yeah, I know. I doubt Angela is officially the person to contact, so I don’t want to share her email, but you can try tracking it down on google like I did.

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