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Proposed rewrite of publication date ("Year") help text.

Existing Text

  • Year - The date of publication. Dates are in the form YYYY-MM-DD, where month and day are filled in if known, otherwise they have the value 00. Under certain circumstances, it is allowable to use a date of 0000-00-00, which means that the publication date is unknown. Examples:
  • 8888-00-00 is used to date publication records for books that were announced but never published. In most cases these publications turn out to be vaporware, but there is good reason to keep these records in the database: it prevents Fixer (along with other automated bots) and editors using secondary sources from submitting records with duplicate ISBNs as well as establishing a bibliographic record of important titles like Last Dangerous Visions.
  • For books, to identify the publication date, try to find a statement (often on the verso of the title page) that says something like "Published in June 2001"; the copyright date is often misleading, since works can be reprinted. Look out for signs that this is a reprint; indications often include a series of numbers (e.g. "3 4 5 6 7 8 9") at the bottom of the verso of the title page; this particular string indicates that this is a third printing. If you know you are holding a reprint, and there is no way to date that particular publication, leave the year field as 0000-00-00. It is sometimes possible to find dates of reprints from subsequent printings which list all printings and their associated dates; if you enter a date from a source like this, record this source in the record's note field. Note that we are interested in recording each different reprint of a publication, since there can be some significant differences between them, such as cover art, or price.
  • For magazines, the month on the cover is rarely the month of actual publication. However, since this is a well-known fact about magazine publication schedules, and also because there is no good way to determine actual publication date, both month and year should be given where possible. For bimonthly magazine dates, use the earlier month: "January-February 1957" should be entered as "1957-01-00", for example. If a bimonthly magazine only quotes a single month in the title, use that month. E.g. the March 1959 issue of Fantastic Universe was preceded by January 1959 and succeeded by May 1959; it should be entered as "1959-03-00". If a bimonthly issue spans a year boundary, such as a December-January 1960 bimonthly issue, use the earlier year and month: "1959-12-00". For magazine cover dates that cannot be assigned to a specific month, use the year only: "Spring 1943" is just entered as "1943-00-00".
  • If you use a secondary source, such as a bibliography or sf encyclopedia, to find dates, make sure that you note the source of this date in the publication record's notes field.
  • Note also that the publication date does not always perfectly match the calendar date. For example, a January issue of a magazine is usually available in December of the previous year, and often earlier than that. Books with a January publication date may often be bought in the closing weeks of the prior year; they will show the later year's copyright date, even though that year has not yet started. In these cases, the convention is to use the official publication date rather than to try to identify when a book actually first became available. If there is a large discrepancy -- for example if a book was printed but unexpectedly delayed before release -- then this can be noted in the notes field.

Proposed New Text

  1. The month and year (and day, if applicable) as stated in the publication, unless the date stated is known to refer to an earlier printing.
    • If the publication states only a year, the month may be supplied from a secondary source. See below.
    • If the publication does not state a date, or if the stated date is known to refer to an earlier printing, the date may be supplied from a secondary source. See below.
    • If the publication does not state a date and no date can be found from a secondary source, you may attempt to derive a date from other information in the book, such as dated ads. Note that ads and announcements may be reprinted as-is in later printings.
    • It is good practice, but not required, to record the publication's statement of publication date (or lack thereof) in the publication notes.
  2. When using a source other than the book's stated publication date:
    • If the publisher's website or catalog provides a date, use that.
    • Otherwise, prefer a date from one of the Secondary Verification Sources, if available.
    • Failing that, a date from an online bookseller may be used; it is strongly suggested doing so only if multiple such sources corroborate the date.
    • Always document secondary sources of date information in the publication notes.
  3. DO NOT GUESS. If no reasonable source of a date can be found, leave the date unknown (0000-00-00).