The new parameters advise publishers to deposit DOIs at the chapter/entry level. The 2010 pricing structure, which has significantly reduced fees for backfile and intra-ebook content deposits, supports their recommendation. Assuming publishers adopt this direction (Springer already has — see their new SpringerLink platform), these moves may have far-reaching, long-term implications for e-book functioning and interoperability.
CrossRef identifies the following aims:
- Maximize reference linking among books, journals, and conference proceedings
- Enhance the discovery, visibility, and usage of book content
- Enhance the user’s experience through improved functionality
- Enable the creation of a book citation reporting mechanism which would give book content the visibility, credibility, and metrics that journal content has
There have been many champions of entry-level metadata, some of the more prominent in connection with Reference Universe. Advocates have been acutely aware of the factors limiting e-book functionality, stemming from the absence of coherent e-book tagging and linking standards. Reference e-books have suffered particularly in environments external to publishers’ own platforms, because these rely on deep-level tagging to enable discovery and use of the of content within.
Assuming that publishers quickly embrace the new book DOI recommendations, multi-disciplinary reference may yet regain its “royal status” (see David Tyckoson’s presentation for Booklist on “The Rise and Fall of Reference“) in the digital information environment — or, at least, to get back to the table as a relevant, high-use player.
Publishers, particularly those who publish journals, have been cognizant of the potential for DOIs in e-book linking. However, with hundreds of thousands of backfile DOIs at the chapter and entry-level to deposit, Cross Ref’s pricing has been a gating factor — until now.
It’s easy to envision that, in an environment in which patrons have access to dashboards that help them create and manipulate personalized information folios — e.g., ebrary’s new DASH, which stands for “data sharing, fast” — more granular linking will provide a significant boost. No one wants to add an entire encyclopedia to their folio, but individual articles make a lot of sense.
Are there unanswered questions? Yes, particularly pertaining to links for titles hosted in non-primary aggregations. E-books may be hosted in 10 or more different locations and formats. With collections of hundreds of thousands of hosted titles in their repositories, e-book aggregators may lack the incentivse to embed granular DOIs that link out to publisher sites.
However, this is an assertive move by CrossRef to help make e-book content — including reference — more parsable, interoperable, and linked.