The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique numeric identifier assigned to books and other monographic publications. It was created by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 1970 and consisted of 13 digits (formerly 10 digits before 2007).
The ISBN is used to identify and track books, facilitating the ordering and distribution of books by publishers, wholesalers, and retailers. Each ISBN identifies a specific edition of a book, and different editions of the same book will have different ISBNs.
The ISBN is usually printed on the back cover of a book or the copyright page, along with other publication information such as the title, author, publisher, and copyright date. In addition to printed books, ISBNs can be assigned to e-books, audiobooks, and other monographic publications.
Why is ISBN Used for?
ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It is a unique identifier assigned to each edition and variation of a book. ISBNs are used primarily to facilitate the distribution and sale of books by identifying each book with a unique numerical identifier that booksellers, libraries, and other book distributors can recognize.
ISBNs allow for accurate tracking of book sales, inventory, and ordering information, making it easier for publishers, booksellers, and libraries to manage their collections and ensure that the correct books are being sold or loaned out. ISBNs also help in cataloging and organizing books in libraries and other book collections, making it easier for users to locate and access specific titles.
The Language of ISBN Numbers
The 13-digit ISBN is divided into five parts, each separated by a hyphen:
- The prefix element (the GS1 prefix): This identifies the book industry and/or publisher’s geographic location. It is either 978 or 979.
- The registration group element identifies the publisher’s country, geographic region, or language area. It is a one- to three-digit number.
- The registrant element: This identifies the specific publisher or imprint. It is a one- to seven-digit number.
- The publication element: This identifies the specific edition and format of the publication, such as hardcover or paperback. It is a one- to six-digit number.
- The check digit: This is calculated using a mathematical formula based on the other 12 digits, and is used to verify the accuracy of the ISBN.
Here is an example of a 13-digit ISBN: 978-0-345-34132-4
- The prefix element is 978.
- The registration group element is 0, which indicates the English language area.
- The registrant element is 345, which identifies the specific publisher or imprint.
- The publication element is 34132, which identifies the specific edition and format.
- The check digit is 4, which is calculated based on the other 12 digits.