Case Study: BiblioMeta creates an ONIX-enabled website for Agate Publishing

Chicago/San Francisco - Doug Seibold, President of Agate Publishing, is a hands-on kind of publisher who thinks a lot about efficiency—simplifying processes in order to improve global quality. Nonetheless, he worried for years about the obvious inefficiencies in his metadata workflow before asking BiblioMeta to help find a way to eliminate redundancy and increase productivity. We solved their problem by supplying technology to utilize the same ONIX already being supplied to the marketplace.

Like many publishers, Agate’s distributor manages a centralized copy of metadata for all of their own client publishers. It’s the distributor’s role to validate and aggregate the metadata, turn it into ONIX, and assure that it’s delivered to vendors. This arrangement gets the metadata to third parties, but left Seibold wondering why he couldn’t use the same ONIX feed for his own web and print production needs. Here’s how he explained the problem to us:

“There’s redundant effort involved in creating content both for our own website and for our distributor. It became apparent that we had to shoulder a lot of needless extra effort by having to administer these two similar-but-slightly-different sets of metadata content. Why can’t we use our ONIX feed to populate our website with metadata?”

— D. Seibold, President, Agate Publishing

Why not, indeed! Like Agate, nearly all publishers already have an ONIX feed and a website. By creating a cloud platform that transforms existing ONIX feeds into JSON & HTML, with an API for embedding the metadata through any CMS, we’d not only solve Agate’s redundancy problem, we’d create a solution for every publisher facing the same issue.

More specifically, when ONIX gets sent to Agate’s vendors, the BiblioMeta platform also receives a copy, which it processes as if it were a read-only database. The data set is transformed and the metadata displayed as an ONIX Proofing Site. Simultaneously, the BiblioMeta engine provides the embedding codes that provide API access for Agate’s Squarespace-hosted website and shopping cart. The result is a kind of magical transmutation of ONIX metadata into live website pages, which are updated automatically whenever there’s a new ONIX feed.

The new dataflow for Agate's metadata looks like this:

The BiblioMeta Platform generalizes this process, transforming any ONIX file and producing embed codes for any CMS. Agate could have chosen WordPress, Shopify or Drupal, it wouldn’t matter, because the BiblioMeta API will work with any CMS and shopping cart.

“The big upside for Agate in creating our site this way,” says Seibold, “is that now we simply have to produce and oversee one set of metadata, and our own site is populated from that. Not only does it streamline the effort involved, but it also results in less potential inconsistency in the metadata that appears in various places.”

The launch of their ONIX-enabled website has also brought a change in the way Agate’s staff work with their metadata. Now, each web-page displays actual up-to-date data that can only be changed by going back to the initial source of the ONIX. As a result, everyone is working directly with the ONIX and every page view becomes part of an ongoing ONIX verification & enrichment process simply by default.

For Agate, they have a new site to highlight their books, a better shopping experience for their customers, and a streamlined metadata workflow. Seibold and the Agate team are able to focus on the accuracy and quality of their ONIX feed knowing that the changes and corrections they make won’t cause data inconsistencies. “Finding a way to do exactly what BiblioMeta is now doing for us has given us a real leap forward,” concludes the Chicago-based publisher.

About BiblioMeta

The BiblioMeta platform was created in 2015 by three seasoned publishing technology professionals, in order to provide book publishers and distributors with a convenient and strategic means of seeing and using the ONIX they already have.  Based in San Francisco with a co-founder in the New York-area, BiblioMeta is actively seeking publishers and distributors who would like to have a demo of their ONIX within the BiblioMeta cloud platform.  For more information, please contact us.

About Agate

Founded in Chicago in 2003, Agate has five unique imprints: B2 Books, devoted to business-related nonfiction; Bolden Books, which publishes fiction and nonfiction by African-American writers; Surrey Books, founded in 1983 and acquired by Agate in 2006, which is focused on food, nutrition, and entertaining; Midway Books, devoted to Midwestern topics and authors with a particular focus on Chicago; and Agate Digital, devoted to standalone ebooks. Among the authors published by Agate are recent winners of the James Beard, Pulitzer, and National Book Award prizes.