DOIs: An Introduction

The Electronic Committee's Digital Digest blog recently published an interview with Carol Meyer of CrossRef, "the citation linking backbone for all scholarly information in electronic form." Here, Meyer provides a brief introduction to DOIs for e-books. Find the complete interview at

I am often asked whether CrossRef assigns Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to scholarly books. The answer is a resounding yes! Almost 200,000 scholarly books have CrossRef DOIs. An even more common question is whether CrossRef DOIs can be assigned to chapters. The answer is yes, yes, four million times yes! CrossRef DOIs are also being assigned to individual entries in reference works. In fact, book content is the fastest growing significant content type at CrossRef, representing about 8% of the 50 million CrossRef DOIs in existence.

What are DOIs? They are pointers to digital items on the web. They remain persistent even when URLs of those items change. Eric van Rijn recently asked me many of the questions you may share about CrossRef and DOIs for The Digital Digest. For those new to CrossRef and DOIs, I'll highlight a few key points:

  • Good quality metadata, including CrossRef DOIs, make scholarly book and journal content easier for readers to find.
  • CrossRef DOI links, when properly formatted as URLs, will automatically work in web-compatible e-book readers.
  • If you are considering working with a third-party hosting platform for your content, ask whether their platform features CrossRef DOI display, CrossRef linked references, and Cited-by Links of external content that links to platform content. If the answer is no, ask them to find out more!

Carol Meyer
Business Development and Marketing, CrossRef