Dear Publisher – we want RSS now!

By Nick Holmes on November 2, 2007
Filed under Feeds, Law publishing

Following is an open letter to all UK law publishers asking for RSS feeds to be provided for new title information. Publishers please respond! Librarians etc please give your support via comments and links to this post. Follow later developments via the Feeds category or on lo-fi librarian’s Facebook group.

Dear Publisher

You may be aware that there is a gathering campaign amongst law librarians and other interested parties for the provision of RSS feeds for new title information from the UK law publishers. This is now increasingly common practice from our friends across the pond and elsewhere.

Law librarians and booksellers rely on your new book/release information for the efficient conduct of their business. Yet this information is currently provided by you most inefficiently and ineffectively – at best monthly, and usually via email alerts attaching spreadsheets, PDFs and the like. It should not need pointing out that RSS now provides a much more efficient and effective alternative to this 20th century modus operandi.

Setting up RSS feeds for your new title information is not difficult, nor costly. It requires some know how, but more importantly it requires an imperative. The imperative is this: by providing your new title information via RSS you will make the jobs of law librarians and booksellers much easier and more productive; your information will come to their attention earlier and more reliably; you will earn their gratitude and loyalty; and you will sell more product more easily.

The information required is held by you in your publications catalogue; all that is needed is for you to extract the appropriate selection by date, sort it in date order and format it according to one of the RSS standards. Designing this process is no more difficult than was designing the process used for displaying the titles by category lists which you provide on your website. Help is available!

An example of the type of feed we’re looking for is provided on the infolaw site.

Below are the types of information we would find most valuable:

Forthcoming publications
Latest publications
Latest looseleaf releases
Latest journal issues

We urge you to take this on board, respond and implement RSS.

Yours sincerely

Nick Holmes – publishing consultant (and trade reseller)
lo-fi librarian – law librarian
UK Law Librarians for RSS
and all those who have signified their support in the comments below


Have you sent this letter off to the major publishers (i.e. S&M, OUP, CUP, Hart)?

There is another way to tackle this, and perhaps more easily achievable: why not request that Zetoc start adding publications into their alerts? They already have the infrastructure in place, they already have just about all law journals listed, and they already have an RSS feed set up for every single one:

by Martin on 2 November 2007 at 12:57 pm. #

Nick, Lo-fi,

I will gladly support this campaign. I’m sure BIALL could lend some support as well!


by James Mullan on 2 November 2007 at 2:18 pm. #

Well put, Nick! I was an early member of the Facebook group, and have blogged about it (slightly facetiously, I must admit) here:

by Neil on 2 November 2007 at 2:19 pm. #


I considered sending the letter to the marketing directors at the law publishers, but decided, no, that’s so yesterday; let’s do it the Web 2.0 way. I’m betting they will get to see it soon – and with a groundswell of support already behind it.

Re Zetoc, the point is the publishers should provide feeds of their own data, not Zetoc (or me or anyone else).


by Nick Holmes on 2 November 2007 at 2:51 pm. #

I do realise that Zetoc (or any other service) falls short of the ideal but I don’t see a practical reason why a Zetoc-like solution shouldn’t be a first step. It isn’t like me or you creating an ad hoc RSS feed; it’s a British Library-run service that is automatically updated with the latest journal titles, with accompanying RSS feeds. A “middleman” may not be the best solution for web 2.0 purists, but it may be the only way to get the data you want within a reasonable timeframe. I’m not suggesting that publisher-based RSS feeds are not a very good idea, however.

Incidentally, OUP have an RSS feed for all of their journals; see the ICLQ, for example:

As for the letter, I would imagine that OUP will find it the web 2.0 way. But others (S&M springs to mind) will be as blissfully unaware of such web 2.0 campaigns as they are of web 2.0 technologies (like RSS)!

by Martin on 2 November 2007 at 3:59 pm. #

….and CUP journals also have RSS feeds:

by Martin on 2 November 2007 at 4:04 pm. #

Hi Nick,
Very much in support here, and have posted on the BIALL Blog also to try and gain some more support (
Good luck!

by Jennifer on 7 November 2007 at 10:35 pm. #

Hi Nick,

We’ve added the badge to our blog with a link back to here as well as mentioning the cause.

Hopefully this results in some action!


by Davina on 7 November 2007 at 10:38 pm. #

I’ve started to put up links, on a new resource I’m creating, to UK publishers who have RSS feeds. Very brief right now, but I’m hoping it will pick up as I start to hound them…

Please let me know if you find any that I’m missing.

by Peter Scott on 15 December 2007 at 3:34 pm. #