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Re: Books identifications

From: Ivan Herman <ivan@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 12 Aug 2015 09:00:45 +0200
Cc: W3C Semantic Web IG <semantic-web@w3.org>
Message-Id: <4302D758-A4C3-4D40-9AF0-4C932D206663@w3.org>
To: Richard Light <richard@light.demon.co.uk>
I do not have a clear picture whether OL really makes a good differentiation among the various FRBR (or similar terms), ie, whether I would get easily a URL for a work ('Shakespeare's Hamlet in general') as well as different URL for a particular edition, whether it is in English or in another language, etc. I *think* that differentiation is present in the internal guts of OL, but it does not transpire (well) on the User Interface I believe (maybe I am just clumsy…). In this sense, even if we put the relationship to the publishing industry aside for a moment, it may need a lot of work to get it right.

Laura has a much better grasp at this, but OL is, as far as I could see, not at all on the publishing industry's radar, although that industry is using and deploying metadata quite massively (but not in RDF or RDF based vocabularies) in the publishing and sale chain. I think that that industry does not have the tradition to rely on grassroots initiatives like OL, ie, I do not see that changing too much in the years to come. We have to realize that metadata is becoming a major strategic and marketing tool for publishers; this is the major vehicle to get the necessary eyeballs to their new publications, to get their sales up in a digital age, etc. Hence I believe they would be very uneasy in relinquishing control over, say, the description of a book or the correctness of cataloging data (like size and weight) which OL includes but is, let us be frank, often approximative data that users put in. (I am guilty at that just as many other: I do not take a tape to measure the exact size of a book, for example, if I add a new book to OL.)

However, unless publishers, retailers, or even libraries take OL on board, I am afraid it will remain a great but sidetracked initiative. (Alas!, I must say…)

Sorry Richard if I have just added to your depression:-)

Just my 2 cents…


> On 11 Aug 2015, at 15:48 , Richard Light <richard@light.demon.co.uk> wrote:
> Laura,
> A depressing but I'm sure realistic assessment.  To what extent can Open Library [1] help with this challenge?
> Richard
> [1] http://openlibrary.org/
> On 11/08/2015 14:25, LAURA DAWSON wrote:
>> There is currently no authoritative global database of all books
>> published. The publishing industry itself can be quite against
>> authoritativeness, which makes it difficult to bring into the 21st
>> century.
>> :)
>>  Getting to a stage where we have a canonical URI for a book is
>> going to take years.
> --
> Richard Light

Ivan Herman, W3C
Digital Publishing Activity Lead
Home: http://www.w3.org/People/Ivan/
mobile: +31-641044153
ORCID ID: http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0782-2704

Received on Wednesday, 12 August 2015 07:00:56 UTC

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