Training and support:

Find updates, user guides and other helpful resources by clicking on the links below.


Now Updated

Best Practices for Product Metadata: Guide for North American Data Senders and Receivers

This newly revised & updated guide from BISG and BookNet Canada covers digital products, marketing tips for discoverability, and ONIX 3.0.
Download your free copy.

The Development, Use and Modification of Metadata

Find out what happens to your metadata and learn how to improve the quality and flow of your data for maximum ROI in this new BISG report.

To buy your copy, visit the BISG website. A discount is available to BookNet Canada clients.

Read about the report on the BNC Blog.

Standards and Certification

Setting the bar so you can raise it.

Standards are an essential part of a healthy supply chain. BookNet Canada consults on and develops standards with the Canadian book industry’s needs in mind.

We work on four kinds of standards:

  1. EDI
  2. Product identifiers
  3. Subject and other classification schemes
  4. ONIX

There are more industry standards, though.

We support the use of these standards in the Canadian industry through bibliographic certification.


What it is:
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) makes sharing orders, shipment notices and invoices fast and easy. For this system to work fluidly, a standardized method of communication is essential. The Canadian Book Industry Standards and Communications (CBISAC) Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) Standards ensure that store POS/inventory and distribution systems speak the same language.

BookNet’s role:
BookNet Canada maintains the CBISAC EDI Document Specifications for the Canadian book industry. BookNet Canada’s EDI committee meets regularly to define new documents, update existing specifications, and assess the impact of EDI on business processes. If you’re interested in implementing EDI standards, or would like to learn more, please contact us.


Product identifiers

What they are:

The product identifier for books is the ISBN (International Standard Book Number). Every title published in North America after 2007 must have an ISBN-13 that identifies it as a unique book product available to be bought and sold.

There are also several other identifiers—including EAN, UPC, GTIN, ISNI, and ISTC—that are of interest to the Canadian book supply chain.

BookNet’s role:
BookNet Canada provides education and information on how different product identifiers are used in the book supply chain.


Subject and other classification schemes

What they are:
Book Industry Standards and Communications (BISAC) classification schemes are used to communicate subject information about a book. This information appears in your bibliographic data files, and is used to help identify where the book should be shelved in a physical store, or how it can be found via search or browse in an online store, catalogue or other discovery platform.

BISAC classification schemes come in three forms: BISAC Subject Headings, BISAC Merchandising Themes, and BISAC Regional Themes.

Thema is a global subject classification system for books, with wide and growing international participation. It is meant to help reduce having to map multiple national and specialist schemes to one another when trading with international partners.

BookNet’s role:
BookNet Canada sits on the BISAC subjects committee, where decisions are made about which new codes are needed and which obsolete or ineffective ones should be discontinued. The Canadian Bibliographic Committee works at creating Canadian-specific BISAC subjects and regional themes. If you would like to discuss any of the Classification Schemes, send us an email.



What it is:
ONIX for Books is the international standard for representing and communicating book industry product information in electronic form.

ONIX stands for ONline Information eXchange and is an XML-based language used for computer-to-computer communication. It provides an accurate description of the product.

ONIX is a way of tagging information about your books—such as the ISBN, title, contributor, description, price, and availability. All of this data is needed to support the sale and marketing of your books in the supply chain.

BookNet’s role:
BookNet Canada runs the Canadian Bibliographic Committee and sits on the international ONIX Committee that makes decisions about how to improve and expand ONIX standards to keep up with the needs of the industry. We have built quality reports into BiblioShare for quick and easy feedback, we’ve developed many resources to help you navigate ONIX, and are on-hand to troubleshoot things with you. If you would like to discuss changes to ONIX, send us an email.


  • BNC 101: What Is ONIX?
  • New to ONIX? We’ve got the what, where, why and how so you can begin your journey towards familiarity. 
  • Overview from EDItEUR
  • EDItEUR is the international expert on all things book standard related. Check out their description of ONIX, its business benefits, development, maintenance and support team info, and more.
  • BNC’s ONIX Information
  • Still haven’t realized the magnificence of ONIX when it comes to your book business? No problem. Let BookNet give you a couple more compelling resources.
  • Canadian Bibliographic Standard
  • Confused about what is required when it comes to bibliographic data? BookNet, the Book Industry Study Group, and EDItEUR are here to help you meet national and international standards.
  • ONIX Code Lists
  • Code lists are part of the fundamental language structure of an ONIX file. EDItEUR’s got your back when it comes to ONIX code lists new and old.
  • Using local DTD and XSD files after ONIX 2.1 sunset
  • The sunset date for ONIX 2.1 is at the end of this year. From January 2015, EDItEUR’s level of support for ONIX 2.1–which has been in use since mid-2003–will be reduced. If you are using 2.1, the removal of the XML tools–the DTD and XSD files hosted on EDiTEUR’s website–may cause problems in your IT systems. Never fear! Download these workaround instructions.

Other Standards

BookNet Canada monitors and participates in the development of several other industry standards. These include:

  • Accessibility standards
  • EPUB
  • GDSN
  • SAN and GLN

Canadian Bibliographic Certification tests a publisher’s or distributor’s production file for structure, content and other criteria. Certification criteria is based on the three levels of the Canadian Bibliographic Standard and feedback from data aggregators.

Let us know how we can help!

We want to help you with metadata and standards. If you have questions about industry standards and our resources haven’t answered them, please email us so that we can lend a hand.

Get Some Answers