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electronic book

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What is an e-book?

An e-book or “electronic book” is a monograph made of electronic textual files that can only be seen through computerized devices.  Like with any other regular print monograph, e-books' content is finite and should not change over time. E-books come in a variety of e-text file formats including, but not limited to, .pdf, .html, .tiff, .mobi, .ePub, and .txt. E-books can be either an electronic reproduction of a previously published print book (a.k.a  e-reproduction); a born digital resource (meaning it has not been published anywhere else before); or an online monograph simultaneously issued in print and digital forms.

For cataloging purposes, e-books are considered a combination of monographs and electronic resources.

video icon Watch examples of e-books

What is not considered an e-book?

  • Electronic data that is not predominantly textual.

  • Textual material that continuously changes over time (not finite).

  • Textual data that does not need to be projected through electronic mediums such as kindles, computers, smartphones, or other computerized devices.

Methods used to catalog e-books:

Currently, there are two methods used to catalog e-books: the “separate” and the “single” record approach.  In the separate record approach, separate bibliographic records are created to describe each available format of a monograph. The single record approach suggests creating only one bibliographic record to describe all formats available for a monograph. This last method describes the original version of the resource in the bibliographic record, and additional fields are attached to it in order to describe the other formats.

video icon audio About the "single" record approach

Which method should I use to catalog an e-book?

The answer to this will depend on each library's local policies. However, the latest 2009 Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) guidelines state that: "it is recommended, though not required, that non-PCC member libraries follow the Provider-neutral e-monograph MARC Record Guide when they create or revise e-monograph records in OCLC. Of course, all libraries may follow whatever policies they wish in their local online public access catalogs (OPACs)."

Method used in this Guide to catalog e-books:

This guide shows how to catalog e-books using the “separate” record approach recommended by the latest guidelines of the PCC. These guidelines are called the Provider-neutral e-monograph MARC Record Guide and were created in 2009 to avoid duplication of records for the same e-book in OCLC.

This guide considers e-books a mixture of monographs and electronic resources. For this reason, we decided to follow rules in chapters 2 and 9 of AACR2r.

The following guidelines can be applied to born digital e-books, electronic reproductions of print books, and books simultaneously published in digital and print forms.


How to catalog e-books (using the "separate" record approach):


video icon Born Digital E-book

Choosing a Template

Fixed Fields

Variable Fields:

Field 006

Field 007

Fields 040 & 043

ISBN (Fields 020)

Call Number "eb" (Fields 050-099)

Sources of Information

Title and Statement of Responsibility (Field 245)

Variant Titles (Field 246)

Publication Area (Field 260)

Physical Description (Field 300)

Notes (Fields 500's)

Genre Subject Heading (Field 655)

Electronic Access (Field 856)


video icon E-reproduction of book previously published in print

Create one bibliographic record for the e-reproduction following the instructions stated above for born-digital e-books with the following exception: Do not apply the "Source of title proper" note 500 to e-reproductions of print books. Add the following additional variable fields to the record:

E-reproduction Additional Fields

Description Based on Print/Other Format (Field 588)

Reproduction (Field 533)

Additional Physical Form Entry (Field 776)


video icon Book simultaneously published in digital and print forms

Create one bibliographic record for each version. For the e-book (digital) version, follow instructions stated above for born-digital e-books, plus add the following additional variable field to the record:

Additional Formats Available (Field 530)

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