Frequently asked questions on the VLB price model

What is the advantage of the current price model?

With the current price model, the completeness and quality of the data inventory are to be improved significantly. Complete and regularly updated title information is essential to the success of the sale and the visibility of titles and should therefore be a matter of importance to publishing houses. An incentive is offered by our current price model, which rewards good data quality with a lower price.

What does the price model look like?

The price model provides for three categories of title data: gold, silver and bronze. Classification depends on whether the fields relevant to status are completed in full. In addition, the age of a publication is also considered in the title registration fee. The price model rewards the registration of high-quality data.

The VLB fee considers all the titles that have been active in a calendar year (= settlement period), regardless of the indexing duration and the time of indexing. However, be aware that in the question as to whether the availability status of a title has been regularly confirmed, the quarter before the settlement period is also assessed.

Prices as of 2017

Title registration fee

Age of the title




1-3 years

EUR 2.70

EUR 3.85

EUR 5.10

4-14 years

EUR 2.30

EUR 3.45

EUR 4.70

Older than 14 years

EUR 2.00

EUR 4.40

Advance notification (publication date in the future)

EUR 2.70

Title registration fee for derived e-books

Age of the title




1-3 years

EUR 0.85

EUR 1.25

EUR 1.75

4-14 years

EUR 0.60

EUR 0.95

EUR 1.50

Older than 14 years

EUR 0.35

EUR 1.50

Advance notification (publication date in the future)

EUR 0.85

Registration fee for hierarchy heads

Hierarchy head independent of age

EUR 3.20

Minimum fee

All titles in gold category

EUR 69.00

At least one title not in gold category

EUR 99.00

If the total of the charged titles does not exceed the amount of EUR 99.00, the minimum fee becomes due. If all the titles have gold status, a discounted minimum fee of EUR 69.00 applies.

Quality status and age according to the publication date are key to deciding the level of the title registration fee. The status as of the key date for settlement on 31 December is decisive for the level of the charge

(All prices plus value added tax)


Assessment criteria


All conditions related to status-relevant fields are fulfilled


One condition is not fulfilled


At least two conditions are not fulfilled or availability information was not confirmed or updated once in the quarter.

Is there an annual minimum fee for the title inventory?

Yes, there is a minimum fee for publishing firms with a low title scope in the VLB. The minimum fee is

  • EUR 69.00 when all the titles belong to the gold category and the total of the registration fees is less than EUR 69.00.
  • EUR 99.00 when one or several titles do not belong to the gold category and the total of the registration fees is less than EUR 99.00.
Since when has the current price model applied?

The current price model has applied since 1 January 2015. 1 November 2017 is the key date for invoicing in 2017. Please note that 31/12 of each year is the key date for invoicing. The data quality at this time as well as the regular confirmation or updating of the availability information in all four quarters and the age of the publications are relevant for the price calculation.

How are titles announced in advance charged?

Most titles announced in advance are still in the publication process, meaning that not all fields relevant to status can be completed. Therefore, before the publication date is reached, a title is always rated with gold status. The data quality is assessed only when the publication is published. Please be aware that the age at the key date for settlement is always considered as the publication age.

Are updates of publication data in the VLB cost-incurring?

No. Updates of existing title entries are desired, in some cases even required (for example in the case of the availability status).

Which status do archived titles receive?

For titles archived in the course of the settlement period, the quality and age status at the time of the key date for settlement applies. The confirmation of the availability status is relevant to status for the quarters in which the titles were active. As of the following settlement period, these archived titles are free of charge. Publications that are out of print should be marked by the publishing firm as archived titles.

What are mandatory fields?

Without details in the mandatory fields, a title cannot be created in the VLB. Even for a pre-announced title, the following information are the minimum requirements:

Data field


Identification number

ISBN-13, EAN (GTIN-13)


Full product title

Publishing house

MVB identification number, publisher identification number

Availability status

Information regarding availability of the publication

Merchandise group

According to MG system

Price information (incl. price type)

Information about shop price fixing, value added tax rate, price amounts or “Product without indicated price” label

Product form

Type of product

Publication date

Time of publication

What are fields relevant to status?

Based on an industry survey, a few data fields were classified as particularly relevant for the sale of a publication. They are of particular importance to the distributing book trade. Since 2015, the calculation of the title registration fees has been based on the content and regular processing of these fields relevant to status. If a field relevant to status is not maintained for a title, this title is declassified from the highest category gold to the category silver. In the event of two or more missing fields, the title transfers to the bronze category. Particular importance is assigned to indicating the availability. If this detail is not confirmed once per quarter for a published title, the title is automatically assigned to the bronze category. Retrospective completion of this criterion after a quarter has ended is not possible.

Data field



Availability status (update / confirmation of the availability information)

We have put together detailed information on completing the availability information for you in the following


Main description

Additional text in text or XHTML format for further description of the publication

Author/issuer/copyright owner

Name of person(s) or corporation(s) or indication that the publication does not have a copyright owner


Information according to product form

Book: number of pages; E-book: Number of pages/file size; CD: duration


At least 3 key words

Product language

Information according to product form

Topic classification

At least one topic subject Information according to product form

FBA „Moderne und zeitgenössische Belletristik“

How are the details for mandatory fields and fields relevant to status to be supplied in ONIX 2.1?

To facilitate the provision of ONIX data, we have put together the ONIX representations to be used for mandatory fields and fields relevant to status in an overview. Here, the provision of content independent of product form is described in detail.

Can a link or a PDF be placed in the Main description field instead of text?

As of 01/01/2018, you must always supply text in the Main description field in order that the field is counted as completed for the status assessment. The use of links and PDFs no longer suffices for this. This is also to your advantage: main descriptions entered as links or as PDFs are frequently not displayed on the websites and in the software applications of the dealers. Text as the main description allows you to be optimally visible everywhere with your content, including in search engines such as Google.

How is the availability status to be indicated?

A reliable indication of the availability status is essential for booksellers and online shops. Therefore, as far as possible, the VLB is to provide up-to-the-minute, consistent data. For this reason, the availability status must be confirmed and, if applicable, updated regularly but at least once per quarter. Various information on the availability status of active titles can be provided in the VLB, e.g. “available” or “temporarily unavailable”. On the other hand, publications that are out of print, i.e. permanently unavailable, can be archived.

Please note: For the settlement year 2017, the confirmation of the 4th quarter in 2016 as well as the first three quarters in 2017 is taken into account. Beginning in 2018, for the settlement of each year, the confirmation of exclusively all four quarters is taken into account.

There are various options for registering the availability status:

  1. The publishing firm confirms the availability status at For this, please use the function: “Confirm availability status”. Any other change to a title is also considered as a confirmation of the availability status.
  2. Publishing firms registering via ONIX or Excel transmit their titles to the VLB. Even if no changes to the title data are made here, this is considered as a confirmation of the availability status and should take place at least once per quarter. This is possible via FTP transfer only
  3. The publishing firm’s distribution centre makes current availability information available to the VLB daily, but at least once per quarter.
How can the availability status of all titles of my publishing house at be confirmed at once?

Display all titles of your publishing house. In the results list, these are shown with up to 100 titles per page. Then mark all the titles for which you want to confirm the availability status with a tick in the check box. The titles can be marked per page. Then click on “Confirm status” (lorry symbol). If you index a very high number of titles in the VLB, it is recommended that you confirm the availability status by means of your distribution centre or by transmitting ONIX or Excel communications.

Is the availability information in the VLB confirmed when a supplier registers the availability status?

Yes. The availability status in the VLB is considered confirmed when a supplier communicates it to the VLB.

What are recommended fields?

In addition to the mandatory fields and the fields relevant to status, we recommend that you process the following fields, which, although they have no impact on the calculation of the title registration fee, are important for the sale of your publications.

Data field


Contents lists

Free text field or link to media file

Specific target group information

Age information for children’s and young people’s books

Edition details

Number/name of edition

“Artificial” series information

Content reference of titles

Related product (pre-/post-edition)

Indication of the follow-up or predecessor edition

Related product (derived e-book)

Connection of the e-book to the print book

Related product (product form)

Reference to other product form

Merchandise group-specific queries

Titles with specific target group

Are there data fields that will gain importance in the future and that may even come to be considered as fields relevant to status and provide a basis for the price calculation?

We anticipate that additional fields will become relevant to status. These could include the recommended fields. Promotions to fields relevant to status are performed if considerable benefit for the quality and the improved subsequent use of the data is evident.

Please note: We will inform you at an early stage about any changes regarding details relevant to status.

Are there special regulations for e-book titles?

An e-book title is often available in various file formats. Here, superordinate print titles (product form B*) are charged with the full title registration fee and all linked e-books are charged as e-books with the reduced title registration fee. The respective products must be linked to each other.

Please note: Only deviations of print titles of product form B* are considered for the invoice, not of multi-part products (product form WW, e.g. bundle products).

If there is any lack of clarity regarding your publication data, we are happy to help you!

Do titles that are older than 14 years old need to be revised?

Backlist titles that are older than 14 years old are automatically assigned to the gold category if their availability status has regularly been confirmed once per quarter. Hence, completing and updating the other fields relevant to status does not impact on the title registration fee.

Please note: Nevertheless, to make these titles easier to find for booksellers and end customers, it is recommended that you complete the fields relevant to status.

How can the data quality be improved? What help is available from the VLB?

You can find tips for improving the data quality in the Practical tips on our website. Thanks to various help services and check routines of the VLB, it will become even easier in future to supply and permanently maintain good data quality:

  • Expansion of the check routines and future introduction of a report and alarm system: a publishing firm receives statistics to allow it to review its title inventory regularly and is advised of necessary additions and updates.
  • Error prevention through plausibilities: when the title data is imported, automatic quality checks run thanks to custom-fit publishing firm configurations. Additional plausibility checks also take place when the data is maintained at
  • Our customer service helps in the event of questions and clarifies inconsistencies in direct conversation. You can contact the customer service team on +49 (0)69-1306-556.
  • Data errors are reported and corrected through active participation of the booksellers and other catalogue users.

How do I recognise what status my titles have? Do publishing houses receive an assessment of the data quality of their titles before the key date for settlement?

Publishing houses can access the current quality status of their titles via the “Reporting” area in the VLB title service. All the changes you perform in the course of a year can impact on the status of your titles and thus on the settlement.

You will find an invoice report (downloadable as an Excel table) regarding the calculated status of the titles at the time of the key date for invoicing purposes from January onwards in the VLB title service under “Settings / invoice report”.

Even though the quality of the title at the key date for settlement is decisive, we recommend analysing the data quality regularly and improving it gradually. Moreover, registration routines can be adjusted so that the fields relevant to status are considered at the key date for settlement at the latest.

Are the data quality requirements also to be fulfilled by smaller publishing houses?

When the price model was developed, great importance was placed on ensuring that all participants can benefit and that smaller publishing firms are not disadvantaged either. This was clarified by means of tests and surveys among publishing house customers in advance. In relation to publishing house size and the number of registered titles, the assessments have shown no relevant differences in registration quality.

Will it continue to be possible to communicate titles by fax registration (paper registration)?

You can continue to register your titles with VLB using the fax form. However, neither the gold nor the silver category can be achieved for these titles, as some of the fields relevant to status, such as cover and main description, can be maintained online only. The quarterly confirmation of the availability status is also possible online only. Therefore, we recommend to those registering by paper that they use our online form at in future.

If you do not yet have access to, you can request this at our website online or via the fax form.

What is the further outlook for the project? What progress regarding data quality is expected?

Since autumn 2014, the integration of the topic classification and its transfer to booksellers has been possible. Another milestone was reached in 2015 with the new user interface and the thus improved user guidance.

The completeness of the basic data (cover, main descriptions, availability) is being increased steadily. Further successive improvements to the data quality are expected with the influence of the above-described aids in title registration and maintenance, supported by the financial incentive and the increasing awareness of the effectiveness of good data.