[uf-new] RFC: Proposal for a (book) title microformat

Toby Inkster mail at tobyinkster.co.uk
Wed Jul 21 04:04:57 PDT 2010

On Tue, 20 Jul 2010 20:34:08 -0400
Craig Shea <craig.e.shea at gmail.com> wrote:

> Before going further, I must define the term "title" vs. "book(s)". A
> title is something that an author writes. A book is a published
> representation of a title.

This distinction is similar to the distinction that the Functional
Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) makes. FRBR was developed
by librarians about 15 years ago as the gold standard data model for
books and similar. It's often used as a design guide when programming
software for cataloguing books.

Rather than two levels like your suggestion above, FRBR distinguishes
between four levels:


A "Work" for example might be the Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy.
This might have several Expressions: for example an English language
version, and a French language version. The English language version
might have several Manifestations - e.g. the softback version measuring
X by Y millimetres, published in 2006. All copies of that Manifestation
have the same physical and intellectual characteristics. Lastly, a
Manifestation will typically have many thousands of Items, as an Item
refers to a single copy of a book.

Modelling books at each of these levels has its uses; and understanding
the relationship between them is useful too.

For example, a library probably wants to keep track of Items, and also
group them into Expressions so that it knows that if one Item of a book
has been checked out, the next borrower might be interested in another
Item of the same Expression.

A microformat for books probably doesn't need to model all of the FRBR
levels, but it should probably aim to align its model with at least one
FRBR level. So, for example, if hTitle was aiming to line up with an
FRBR Expression, we'd know that a review could mention the quality of
the translation; whereas if it was aiming to line up with an FRBR Item,
the review might mention whether its pages were torn.

Here's a quick FRBR primer:

> It looks like there is some overlap in terms of class names and
> what-not, I'll give you that.  the thing that concerns me is the fact
> that that format is called "citation".

If there was a decent book microformat, a citation microformat could
emerge quite easily as a by-product:

When the book title is marked up as:

   <cite class="fn">...</cite>

it's a citation; otherwise, if it's

   <any-other-element class="fn">...</any-other-element>

then it's a non-citation mention of the book.

Toby A Inkster
<mailto:mail at tobyinkster.co.uk>

More information about the microformats-new mailing list