When you think of standards, what comes to mind? Maybe it’s a few bars of “Autumn Leaves” or “Star Eyes” or any number of other great jazz compositions from the early 20th century.

However, in the coming weeks I’ll try to put a new spin on standards in the AAUP’s Digital Digest. Starting in the next couple of weeks, The Digital Digest will feature a new series of blog postings that will present overviews of standards for digital content and metadata. As our businesses move increasingly online, university presses are being required to become conversant with the standards for both digital content and metadata that are currently driving the growth of the various digital sales channels. Our colleagues who work (or have worked) for presses that have journals businesses may have already had to dip into the arcane language of digital standards and the acronyms that accompany them. (NLM, DOI, MARC, COUNTER—where does the alphabet soup end?!) But, for books, the current situation is still somewhat unsettled.

The first of these posts will be an interview with Carol Anne Meyer, the Director of Business Development for CrossRef, which is the DOI (digital object identifier) registration agency in the United States. For future entries, I plan to focus on ISBNs (with particular emphasis on digital ISBNs) and the newly unveiled EPUB 3 standard for e-book content. The aim of these articles is to give a manageable overview of some of these complicated issues for those with passing familiarity and to give those who at least know what the acronym standards for a little bit of a deeper understanding. I will try to do each of these in a Q&A fashion with members of other industry associations, outside vendors, and our trading partners.

While digital standards are admittedly not the sexiest topic in the whole world, they have a deep impact on the discoverability and marketability of our content. While many of our partners are still using a mix of proprietary and standards-based mechanisms for ingesting and distributing content and metadata, many have either adapted current standards or are migrating towards a standards-based approach. Digital standards issues have fairly broad implications for publishers. They can impact everything from how contracts are worded to how you run your royalty systems to how you manage your production workflows. So, it’s absolutely critical that we all become conversant in the language of standards. I hope you all find this series useful, and please leave a comment, if you have suggestions for future topics and/or interview subjects.

Also, thanks to the Digital Publishing Committee for allowing me to use this blog as the forum for this series.