An International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique identification of a title or edition of a book or other monographic publication published or produced by a specific publisher or producer. ISBN is a numeric code and has fixed-length. The ISBN is used in all branches of the book sector.

The purpose of the ISBN is to establish and identify one title or edition of a title from one specific publisher and is unique to that edition, allowing for more efficient marketing of products by booksellers, libraries, universities, wholesalers and distributors.

ISBN is a well established standard for identifying books and publications throughout the world.

Can only identify the title of the publication, but not information such as volume number, etc.

Technical Specifications
Every ISBN consists of ten digits and whenever it is printed it is preceded by the letters, ISBN. The ten-digit number is divided into four parts of variable length, each part separated by a hyphen.

  • Group or country identifier digits for identifying a national or geographic grouping of publishers.
  • Publisher identifier digits for identifying a particular publisher within a group.
  • Title identifier digits for identifying a particular title or edition of a title.
  • Check digit is the single digit at the end of the ISBN that validates the ISBN.

Additional Information
ISBN numbers are assigned by ISBN group agencies worldwide coordinated by the International ISBN Agency in Berlin. ISBNs are assigned in the United States by the U.S. ISBN Agency. R.R. Bowker is the independent agent in the U.S. for this system.

The length of the ISBN number will change from 10 digits to 13 digits, effective 1 January 2007. The main reason for changing the ISBN is to increase the numbering capacity of the ISBN system.

One can use Label Flow™ barcode software for printing ISBN barcode labels for books and journals or use Asset Track for managing library of books.

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