International Standard Book Number facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
EAN-13-ISBN-13
An ISBN-13 barcode represented as EAN-13 barcode (ISBN 978-3-16-148410-0)

The International Standard Book Number, ISBN, is a unique commercial book identifier barcode. The ISBN system was created in the United Kingdom, in 1966, by the booksellers and stationers W.H. Smith.

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.

Overview

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:

  1. for a 13 digit ISBN, a GS1 prefix: 978 or 979
  2. the group identifier code, (group of countries sharing a language)
  3. the publisher code,
  4. the item number, and
  5. 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.

Related pages

Footnotes


International Standard Book Number Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.