BNC BiblioShare has been getting queries from publishers asking why after dropping a record from their ONIX feed it hasn’t disappeared from The 49th Shelf? BiblioShare supplies data to a lot more firms than The 49th Shelf and that list is growing, but we like that you’re paying attention and finding problems in 49thShelf.com. It’s the best demonstration on what your metadata can achieve.
There really isn’t a situation where an ISBN is ever taken out of the supply chain. The reason BookNet stresses that metadata is supplied as a feed is because you tell the supply chain what’s going on with your products and update them when it change. This is the point of the Publisher Status and the Product Availability Codes. They allow you to inform and update the supply chain about the ISBN.
By simply removing a record from your feed you “orphan” it. So when say two distributors exchange a line, the former removes it from their feed, and the latter starts supporting the EANs in the supply chain. Retailers will still like to know in order to update their internal records, but the data feeds more or less take care of themselves so long as one firm picks up the EANs the other drops. There are always some records in the former’s feed that never appear in the latter’s, but retailers don’t delete it—it’s “orphaned.” Customers may still come looking and they need to know. Ideally the former firm would would supply a Product Availability status of No Longer Carried at the time of the transition and be able to supply that information later on demand.
Orphaning a record may eventually be noted and be recognized as not available, but it will not happen quickly. Many publishers supply “delta” files of changes only, and there’s no way to distinguish between a dropped record and record not supplied because nothing has changed recently.
Another case where publishers might like records dropped is a NYP book where the publication is put off for an indefinite period of time, or the title is cancelled. This is no different from a change of title or authorship, it’s a simple update to status.
ONIX supports a dual status system—one that speaks for the Publisher and the other that speaks for the Supplier. Both sets of code have clear markers for cancellation—and the code list contains instructions to pull the Publication Date (I’d include on-sale and ship date too). Postponing publication is more vague, but it’s a clear choice as Publisher Status as Postpone Indefinitely. If you genuinely don’t know when the book will be published after announcing it consider cancelling the ISBN or putting the publication off for years. Postponing a book means less as a Product Availability status as it’s still “forthcoming” from a distributors point of view, but in the case of long delays you might choose “99” for contact supplier.
Obviously the dates you supply in your ONIX feed must work and make sense with Status and Availability codes. And equally obviously your trading partners are affected. It never hurts to talk to them when change occurs to make sure that they’ll interpret your records correctly.
About the only time a record is “deleted”—and even then it’s more a matter of display than actual deletion—is the case where you want to formally remove an actively sold ISBN from the supply chain. The typical case is done for legal reasons when a product is withdrawn from sale. While this is supported by ONIX codes, I’d strongly recommend direct contact and explanation to get the desired effect.
As to Canadian Bookshelf—they have already set up to not display “cancelled” titles, so if that’s what’s happened then you can get them to pull the record by updating your book status as that. And we are talking about developing great status sensitivity—helping us understand what you want done is a great help.