Database helps small publishers

June 24, 2004, vol. 30, no. 5
By Howard Fluxgold

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Small and medium size Canadian book publishers will soon have the technology to compete with their larger competitors thanks to a new database developed by SFU's Centre for Studies in Publishing.

The principal function of the new technology called Publishers Extensible ONIX Database or PExOD “is to distribute bibliographic data to retailers, government agencies, distributors and if desired, consumers, in the appropriate format for each,” says Rowly Lorimer, director of the centre.

It can replace expensive-to-maintain websites that provide the public and booksellers with up-to-date bibliographic information.

Smaller publishers, those with annual revenue between $200,000 and $1 million, have not got the resources to maintain state-of-the art-websites.

The new database will now provide booksellers such as Chapters or Amazon and others with information in a format that can be used seamlessly.

Until a few years ago, booksellers such as Chapters would receive information from catalogues or websites and be forced to spend time keying it into their system.

PExOD will also allow publishers to provide bibliographic information to the National Library for their national catalogues.

“We are really at the end of the development phase and are launching PExOD in the middle of June at Book Expo Canada in Toronto,” says Lorimer. He expects 30-40 publishers to be using it by August.

The federal department of Canadian Heritage recently announced a $142,812 grant for the project which Lorimer will put toward bringing the database “to a point where it is an easy-to-use, fully functioning tool, not just a beta release.” The department has financed the project to the tune of $250,000 and as a result software will be free to users.

“PExOD will provide the means for publishers to create a single authoritative source for bibliographic information,” explains Lorimer. “It can be used to generate publicity or catalogue books. You can put a photo of the author on the database and even put the whole book in it.” The centre hopes to be able to maintain and upgrade PExOD through user fees.

For more information go to: PExOD.

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