IPA helps develop international standards for content identification, description and the facilitation of e-commerce with a view to promoting open, non-proprietory standards that can easily be implemented by large and small publishers around the world.

Here is an overview over the most important global industry standards, the organisations that are running them, and the way IPA is involved.

For more information, please contact the IPA Secretariat:
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ACAP (Automated Content Access Protocol) is being developed as an industry standard by the publishing industry, working with search engines and other technical and commercial partners.

ACAP will enable the providers of all types of content published on the World Wide Web to communicate permissions information (relating to access and use of that content) in a form that can be automatically recognized and interpreted, so that business partners can systematically comply with the publishers' policies. In the first instance, ACAP will provide a framework that will allow any publisher, large or small, to express access and use policies in a language that search engines' robot "spiders" can be taught to understand. It is anticipated that, in future, the scope of ACAP will be extended to other business relationships and other media types. The ACAP pilot project is being operated by a consortium of international publisher organisations including IPA.

For further information please click HERE.


The most famous publishing standard is the ISBN: a unique 10 or (more recently) 13 digit machine-readable number that identifies, generally speaking, a specific edition of a printed, audio or electronic book. The global use of this numbering system has created enormous commercial efficiencies for publishers, and a reliable way of identifying books for readers in search of a particular book. 166 countries and territories are officially ISBN members.

IPA is an observer to the International ISBN Agency Board and has the right to attend all board meetings to represent the publishing industry's interests. For more, see the web site of the International ISBN Agency.


ISO TC 46 SC 9 is the technical name for the working group run through the International Standards Organisation (ISO) that develops and maintains ISO standards on the identification and description of information resources.

IPA maintains liaison relationships with this working group and participates to the extent that standards of interest to publishers are being discussed. These currently include ISBN, ISSN, ISTC, DOI.

For further information, please go to:


The ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) is an eight-digit number which identifies all periodical publications as such, including electronic serials. Each ISSN assigned to a serial publication is registered in an international database: the ISSN Register. It is the most comprehensive and authoritative source for the identification of serial publications world-wide.

For more, please see the web site of the International ISSN Agency.


ONIX is a family of electronic messaging standards for the communication of book industry product information, that share common elements. ONIX is both a data dictionary of the elements which go to make up a product record and a standard means by which product data can be transmitted electronically by publishers to data aggregators, wholesalers, booksellers and anyone else involved in the sale of their publications Whilst this group of standards is expanding, some applications have already gained broad acceptance:

ONIX for Books

The ONIX for Books Product Information Message is the international standard for representing and communicating book industry product information in electronic form. For further information, please go to:

ONIX for Serials

ONIX for Serials is a family of XML formats for communicating information about serial products and subscription information, using the design principles and many of the elements defined in ONIX for Books. For further information, please go to:

ONIX for Licensing Terms

As the number of the digital resources in library collections grows, libraries have increasing difficulty complying with the widely differing licence terms applied to resources by their creators and publishers. The ability to express these terms in a standard XML format, link them to digital resources and communicate them to users has become a pressing need with benefits to both publishers and libraries.

For further information, please go to:

ONIX is one of a number of standards being developed and administered by EDItEUR. It is the international group coordinating development of the standards infrastructure for electronic commerce in the book and serials industries.

IPA is an active member of Editeur. For further information, please go to:

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