Originally, it was the 9-digit Standard Book Numbering (SBN) code and still was used in 1974; it was adopted as the international standard ISO 2108 in 1970. A similar, numeric identification, the International Standard Serial Number (ISSN), identifies periodical publications such as magazines. Since January 1, 2007, ISBNs are of 13 digits, like in Bookland EAN-13. The TC 46/SC 9 is responsible for the standard.
An ISBN is given to each edition and variation (except reprintings) of a book. The ISBN is 13 digits long if assigned after January 1, 2007, and 10 digits long if assigned before 2007. An International Standard Book Number consists of 4 or 5 parts:
- for a 13 digit ISBN, a GS1 prefix: 978 or 979
- the group identifier code, (group of countries sharing a language)
- the publisher code,
- the item number, and
- a checksum character or check digit.
The ISBN parts may be of different lengths, and usually are separated with hyphens or spaces.
The group identifier code (GIC) number is 0 or 1 for English-speaking countries; 2 for French-speaking countries; 3 for German-speaking countries; 4 for Japanese; 5 for Russian, et cetera. The original standard book number (SBN) had no group identifier, but affixing a zero (0) as prefix to a 9-digit SBN creates a valid 10-digit ISBN. The group identifier may be up to 5 digits long; e.g. 99936 is a group identifier for the country Bhutan.
The national ISBN agency assigns the publisher number (cf. the category:ISBN agencies); the publisher selects the item number. Generally, a book publisher is not required to assign an ISBN, nor for a book to display its number (except in China; see below), however, most book stores only handle ISBN bearing merchandise.
A listing of all the 628,000 assigned publisher codes is published, and can be ordered in book form, but, as of 2007, it costs US$300. The web site of the international ISBN agency does not offer any free method of looking up publisher codes.
- Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN)
- CODEN (serial publication identifier currently used by libraries; replaced by the ISSN for new works)
- Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
- European Article Number (EAN)
- International Standard Audiovisual Number (ISAN)
- International Standard Music Number (ISMN)
- International Standard Recording Code (ISRC)
- International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
- International Standard Musical Work Code (ISWC)
- Library of Congress Control Number
- PMID (PubMed ID)
- Serial Item and Contribution Identifier (SICI)
International Standard Book Number Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.