International Standard Book Number
Not to be confused with ICCU SBN.
|Organisation||International ISBN Agency|
|Introduced||1970; 50 years ago (1970)|
|No. of digits||13 (formerly 10)|
|Check digit||Weighted sum|
Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.
An ISBN is assigned to each separate edition and variation (except reprintings) of a publication.
The ISBN is ten digits long if assigned before 2007, and thirteen digits long if assigned on or after 1 January 2007.
The method of assigning an ISBN is nation-specific and varies between countries, often depending on how large the publishing industry is within a country.
The initial ISBN identification format was devised in 1967, based upon the 9-digit Standard Book Numbering (SBN) created in 1966.
The 10-digit ISBN format was developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and was published in 1970 as international standard ISO 2108 (the 9-digit SBN code can be converted to a 10-digit ISBN by prefixing it with a zero digit '0').
Privately published books sometimes appear without an ISBN.
The International ISBN Agency sometimes assigns such books ISBNs on its own initiative.
The Standard Book Number (SBN) is a commercial system using nine-digit code numbers to identify books.
The ISBN identification format was conceived in 1967 in the United Kingdom by David Whitaker (regarded as the "Father of the ISBN") and in 1968 in the United States by Emery Koltay (who later became director of the U.S. ISBN agency R. ). R. Bowker
The 10-digit ISBN format was developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and was published in 1970 as international standard ISO 2108.
The United Kingdom continued to use the nine-digit SBN code until 1974.
ISO has appointed the International ISBN Agency as the registration authority for ISBN worldwide and the ISBN Standard is developed under the control of ISO Technical Committee 46/Subcommittee 9 TC 46/SC 9.
The ISO on-line facility only refers back to 1978.
An SBN may be converted to an ISBN by prefixing the digit "0".
For example, the second edition of Mr. , published by Hodder in 1965, has "SBN 340 01381 8", where "340" indicates the J. G. Reeder Returnspublisher, "01381" is the serial number assigned by the publisher, and "8" is the check digit.
Some publishers, such as Ballantine Books, would sometimes use 12-digit SBNs where the last three digits indicated the price of the book; for example, Woodstock Handmade Houses had a 12-digit Standard Book Number of 345-24223-8-595 (valid SBN: 345-24223-8, ISBN: 0-345-24223-8), and it cost US$5.95.
A separate ISBN is assigned to each edition and variation (except reprintings) of a publication.
For example, an ebook, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover edition of the same book will each have a different ISBN assigned to it.
The ISBN is thirteen digits long if assigned on or after 1 January 2007, and ten digits long if assigned before 2007.
An International Standard Book Number consists of four parts (if it is a 10-digit ISBN) or five parts (for a 13-digit ISBN).
Section 5 of the International ISBN Agency's official user manual describes the structure of the 13-digit ISBN, as follows:
- for a 13-digit ISBN, a prefix element – a GS1 prefix: so far 978 or 979 have been made available by GS1,
- the registration group element (language-sharing country group, individual country or territory),
- the registrant element,
- the publication element, and
- a checksum character or check digit.
A 13-digit ISBN can be separated into its parts (prefix element, registration group, registrant, publication and check digit), and when this is done it is customary to separate the parts with hyphens or spaces.
Separating the parts (registration group, registrant, publication and check digit) of a 10-digit ISBN is also done with either hyphens or spaces.
Figuring out how to correctly separate a given ISBN is complicated, because most of the parts do not use a fixed number of digits.
How ISBNs are issued
ISBN issuance is country-specific, in that ISBNs are issued by the ISBN registration agency that is responsible for that country or territory regardless of the publication language.
The ranges of ISBNs assigned to any particular country are based on the publishing profile of the country concerned, and so the ranges will vary depending on the number of books and the number, type, and size of publishers that are active.
Some ISBN registration agencies are based in national libraries or within ministries of culture and thus may receive direct funding from government to support their services.
In other cases, the ISBN registration service is provided by organisations such as bibliographic data providers that are not government funded.
A full directory of ISBN agencies is available on the International ISBN Agency website.
List for a few countries is given below:
- Australia – Thorpe-Bowker
- Brazil – The National Library of Brazil; (Up to 28 February 2020)
- Brazil – Câmara Brasileira do Livro (From 1 March 2020)
- Canada – English Library and Archives Canada, a government agency; French Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec;
- Colombia – Cámara Colombiana del Libro, an NGO
- Hong Kong – Books Registration Office (BRO), under the Hong Kong Public Libraries
- India – The Raja Rammohun Roy National Agency for ISBN (Book Promotion and Copyright Division), under Department of Higher Education, a constituent of the Ministry of Human Resource Development
- Iceland – Landsbókasafn (National and University Library of Iceland)
- Israel – The Israel Center for Libraries
- Italy – EDISER srl, owned by Associazione Italiana Editori (Italian Publishers Association)
- Maldives – The National Bureau of Classification (NBC)
- Malta – The National Book Council (Maltese: Il-Kunsill Nazzjonali tal-Ktieb)
- Morocco – The National Library of Morocco
- New Zealand – The National Library of New Zealand
- Pakistan – National Library of Pakistan
- Philippines – National Library of the Philippines
- South Africa – National Library of South Africa
- Spain –
- Turkey – General Directorate of Libraries and Publications, a branch of the Ministry of Culture
- United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland – Nielsen Book Services Ltd, part of Nielsen Holdings N.V.
- United States – R. R. Bowker
Registration group identifier
The ISBN registration group identifier is a 1- to 5-digit number that is valid within a single prefix element (i.e. one of 978 or 979), and can be separated between hyphens, such as "978-1-...".
Registration group identifiers have primarily been allocated within the 978 prefix element.
The single-digit group identifiers within the 978-prefix element are: 0 or 1 for English-speaking countries; 2 for French-speaking countries; 3 for German-speaking countries; 4 for Japan; 5 for Russian-speaking countries; and 7 for People's Republic of China.
An example 5-digit group identifier is 99936, for Bhutan.
The allocated group IDs are: 0–5, 600–625, 65, 7, 80–94, 950–989, 9917–9989, and 99901–99983.
Books published in rare languages typically have longer group identifiers.
Within the 979 prefix element, the registration group identifier 0 is reserved for compatibility with International Standard Music Numbers (ISMNs), but such material is not actually assigned an ISBN.
The registration group identifiers within prefix element 979 that have been assigned are 8 for the United States of America, 10 for France, 11 for the Republic of Korea, and 12 for Italy.
The original 9-digit standard book number (SBN) had no registration group identifier, but prefixing a zero (0) to a 9-digit SBN creates a valid 10-digit ISBN.
The national ISBN agency assigns the registrant element (cf.
:Category:ISBN agencies) and an accompanying series of ISBNs within that registrant element to the publisher; the publisher then allocates one of the ISBNs to each of its books.
In most countries, a book publisher is not legally required to assign an ISBN, although most large bookstores only handle publications that have ISBNs assigned to them.
A listing of more than 900,000 assigned publisher codes is published, and can be ordered in book form.
The web site of the ISBN agency does not offer any free method of looking up publisher codes.
Publishers receive blocks of ISBNs, with larger blocks allotted to publishers expecting to need them; a small publisher may receive ISBNs of one or more digits for the registration group identifier, several digits for the registrant, and a single digit for the publication element.
Once that block of ISBNs is used, the publisher may receive another block of ISBNs, with a different registrant element.
Consequently, a publisher may have different allotted registrant elements.
There also may be more than one registration group identifier used in a country.
This might occur once all the registrant elements from a particular registration group have been allocated to publishers.
By using variable block lengths, registration agencies are able to customise the allocations of ISBNs that they make to publishers.
For example, a large publisher may be given a block of ISBNs where fewer digits are allocated for the registrant element and many digits are allocated for the publication element; likewise, countries publishing many titles have few allocated digits for the registration group identifier and many for the registrant and publication elements.
Here are some sample ISBN-10 codes, illustrating block length variations.
|ISBN||Country or area||Publisher|
|80-902734-1-6||Czech Republic; Slovakia||Taita Publishers|
|85-359-0277-5||Brazil||Companhia das Letras|
|1-84356-028-3||English-speaking area||Simon Wallenberg Press|
|0-8044-2957-X||English-speaking area||Frederick Ungar|
|0-85131-041-9||English-speaking area||J. A. Allen & Co.|
|93-86954-21-4||English-speaking area||Edupedia Publications Pvt Ltd.|
|0-9752298-0-X||English-speaking area||KT Publishing|
Pattern for English language ISBNs
English-language registration group elements are 0 and 1 (2 of more than 220 registration group elements).
These two registration group elements are divided into registrant elements in a systematic pattern, which allows their length to be determined, as follows:
|0 – Registration group element||1 – Registration group element||Total
0-229-xxxxx-x 0-370-xxxxx-x 0-640-xxxxx-x 0-646-xxxxx-x 0-649-xxxxx-x 0-656-xxxxx-x
0-368-xxxxx-x 0-638-xxxxx-x 0-644-xxxxx-x 0-647-xxxxx-x 0-654-xxxxx-x 0-699-xxxxx-x
1-030-xxxxx-x 1-100-xxxxx-x 1-714-xxxxx-x
1-034-xxxxx-x 1-397-xxxxx-x 1-716-xxxxx-x
0-3690-xxxx-x 0-6390-xxxx-x 0-6550-xxxx-x 0-7000-xxxx-x
0-3699-xxxx-x 0-6397-xxxx-x 0-6559-xxxx-x 0-8499-xxxx-x
1-0700-xxxx-x 1-3980-xxxx-x 1-6500-xxxx-x 1-6860-xxxx-x 1-7170-xxxx-x 1-7900-xxxx-x 1-8672-xxxx-x 1-9730-xxxx-x
1-0999-xxxx-x 1-5499-xxxx-x 1-6799-xxxx-x 1-7139-xxxx-x 1-7319-xxxx-x 1-7999-xxxx-x 1-8675-xxxx-x 1-9877-xxxx-x
1-68000-xxx-x 1-74000-xxx-x 1-77540-xxx-x 1-77650-xxx-x 1-77770-xxx-x 1-80000-xxx-x 1-83850-xxx-x 1-86760-xxx-x
1-68599-xxx-x 1-77499-xxx-x 1-77639-xxx-x 1-77699-xxx-x 1-78999-xxx-x 1-83799-xxx-x 1-86719-xxx-x 1-86979-xxx-x
1-916506-xx-x 1-987800-xx-x 1-991200-xx-x
1-972999-xx-x 1-991149-xx-x 1-998989-xx-x
0-6450000-x-x 0-6480000-x-x 0-9500000-x-x
0-6459999-x-x 0-6489999-x-x 0-9999999-x-x
1-7750000-x-x 1-7764000-x-x 1-7770000-x-x 1-8380000-x-x 1-9160000-x-x 1-9911500-x-x 1-9989900-x-x
1-7753999-x-x 1-7764999-x-x 1-7776999-x-x 1-8384999-x-x 1-9165059-x-x 1-9911999-x-x 1-9999999-x-x
It consists of a single digit computed from the other digits in the number.
The method for the 10-digit ISBN is an extension of that for SBNs, so the two systems are compatible; an SBN prefixed with a zero (the 10-digit ISBN) will give the same check digit as the SBN without the zero.
The check digit is base eleven, and can be an integer between 0 and 9, or an 'X'.
The system for 13-digit ISBNs is not compatible with SBNs and will, in general, give a different check digit from the corresponding 10-digit ISBN, so does not provide the same protection against transposition.
This is because the 13-digit code was required to be compatible with the EAN format, and hence could not contain an 'X'.
ISBN-10 check digits
According to the 2001 edition of the International ISBN Agency's official user manual, the ISBN-10 check digit (which is the last digit of the 10-digit ISBN) must range from 0 to 10 (the symbol 'X' is used for 10), and must be such that the sum of the ten digits, each multiplied by its (integer) weight, descending from 10 to 1, is a multiple of 11.
That is, if xi is the ith digit, then x10 must be chosen such that:
For example, for an ISBN-10 of 0-306-40615-2:
Formally, using modular arithmetic, this is rendered:
It is also true for ISBN-10s that the sum of all ten digits, each multiplied by its weight in ascending order from 1 to 10, is a multiple of 11.
For this example:
Formally, this is rendered:
The two most common errors in handling an ISBN (e.g. when typing it or writing it down) are a single altered digit or the transposition of adjacent digits.
It can be proven mathematically that all pairs of valid ISBN-10s differ in at least two digits.
It can also be proven that there are no pairs of valid ISBN-10s with eight identical digits and two transposed digits.
(These proofs are true because the ISBN is less than eleven digits long and because 11 is a prime number.)
The ISBN check digit method therefore ensures that it will always be possible to detect these two most common types of error, i.e., if either of these types of error has occurred, the result will never be a valid ISBN – the sum of the digits multiplied by their weights will never be a multiple of 11.
However, if the error were to occur in the publishing house and remain undetected, the book would be issued with an invalid ISBN.
In contrast, it is possible for other types of error, such as two altered non-transposed digits, or three altered digits, to result in a valid ISBN (although it is still unlikely).
ISBN-10 check digit calculation
Each of the first nine digits of the 10-digit ISBN—excluding the check digit itself—is multiplied by its (integer) weight, descending from 10 to 2, and the sum of these nine products found.
The value of the check digit is simply the one number between 0 and 10 which, when added to this sum, means the total is a multiple of 11.
For example, the check digit for an ISBN-10 of 0-306-40615-?
is calculated as follows:
Alternatively, modular arithmetic is convenient for calculating the check digit using modulus 11.
The remainder of this sum when it is divided by 11 (i.e. its value modulo 11), is computed.
This remainder plus the check digit must equal either 0 or 11.
Therefore, the check digit is (11 minus the remainder of the sum of the products modulo 11) modulo 11.
Taking the remainder modulo 11 a second time accounts for the possibility that the first remainder is 0.
Without the second modulo operation, the calculation could result in a check digit value of 11−0 = 11, which is invalid.
(Strictly speaking, the first "modulo 11" is not needed, but it may be considered to simplify the calculation.)
For example, the check digit for the ISBN-10 of 0-306-40615-?
is calculated as follows:
Thus the check digit is 2.
It is possible to avoid the multiplications in a software implementation by using two accumulators.
Repeatedly adding t into s computes the necessary multiples:
The modular reduction can be done once at the end, as shown above (in which case s could hold a value as large as 496, for the invalid ISBN 99999-999-9-X), or s and t could be reduced by a conditional subtract after each addition.
ISBN-13 check digit calculation
Appendix 1 of the International ISBN Agency's official user manual describes how the 13-digit ISBN check digit is calculated.
The ISBN-13 check digit, which is the last digit of the ISBN, must range from 0 to 9 and must be such that the sum of all the thirteen digits, each multiplied by its (integer) weight, alternating between 1 and 3, is a multiple of 10.
As ISBN-13 is a subset of EAN-13, the algorithm for calculating the check digit is exactly the same for both.
Formally, using modular arithmetic, this is rendered:
The calculation of an ISBN-13 check digit begins with the first twelve digits of the 13-digit ISBN (thus excluding the check digit itself).
Each digit, from left to right, is alternately multiplied by 1 or 3, then those products are summed modulo 10 to give a value ranging from 0 to 9.
Subtracted from 10, that leaves a result from 1 to 10.
A zero (0) replaces a ten (10), so, in all cases, a single check digit results.
For example, the ISBN-13 check digit of 978-0-306-40615-?
is calculated as follows:
Thus, the check digit is 7, and the complete sequence is ISBN 978-0-306-40615-7.
In general, the ISBN-13 check digit is calculated as follows.
This check system – similar to the UPC check digit formula – does not catch all errors of adjacent digit transposition.
Specifically, if the difference between two adjacent digits is 5, the check digit will not catch their transposition.
For instance, the above example allows this situation with the 6 followed by a 1.
The correct order contributes 3×6+1×1 = 19 to the sum; while, if the digits are transposed (1 followed by a 6), the contribution of those two digits will be 3×1+1×6 = 9.
However, 19 and 9 are congruent modulo 10, and so produce the same, final result: both ISBNs will have a check digit of 7.
The ISBN-10 formula uses the prime modulus 11 which avoids this blind spot, but requires more than the digits 0–9 to express the check digit.
Additionally, if the sum of the 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th digits is tripled then added to the remaining digits (1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 11th, and 13th), the total will always be divisible by 10 (i.e., end in 0).
ISBN-10 to ISBN-13 conversion
An ISBN-10 is converted to ISBN-13 by prepending "978" to the ISBN-10 and recalculating the final checksum digit using the ISBN-13 algorithm.
The reverse process can also be performed, but not for numbers commencing with a prefix other than 978, which have no 10-digit equivalent.
Errors in usage
Publishers sometimes fail to check the correspondence of a book title and its ISBN before publishing it; that failure causes book identification problems for libraries, booksellers, and readers.
Most libraries and booksellers display the book record for an invalid ISBN issued by the publisher.
The Library of Congress catalogue contains books published with invalid ISBNs, which it usually tags with the phrase "Cancelled ISBN".
However, book-ordering systems such as Amazon.com will not search for a book if an invalid ISBN is entered to its search engine.
OCLC often indexes by invalid ISBNs, if the book is indexed in that way by a member library.
Only the term "ISBN" should be used; the terms "eISBN" and "e-ISBN" have historically been sources of confusion and should be avoided.
If a book exists in one or more digital (e-book) formats, each of those formats must have its own ISBN.
They should not share the ISBN of the paper version, and there is no generic "eISBN" which encompasses all the e-book formats for a title.
EAN format used in barcodes, and upgrading
Currently the barcodes on a book's back cover (or inside a mass-market paperback book's front cover) are EAN-13; they may have a separate barcode encoding five digits called an EAN-5 for the currency and the recommended retail price.
For 10-digit ISBNs, the number "978", the Bookland "country code", is prefixed to the ISBN in the barcode data, and the check digit is recalculated according to the EAN-13 formula (modulo 10, 1x and 3x weighting on alternating digits).
Partly because of an expected shortage in certain ISBN categories, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) decided to migrate to a 13-digit ISBN (ISBN-13).
The process began on 1 January 2005 and was planned to conclude on 1 January 2007.
As of 2011, all the 13-digit ISBNs began with 978.
As the 978 ISBN supply is exhausted, the 979 prefix was introduced.
The 10-digit ISMN codes differed visually as they began with an "M" letter; the bar code represents the "M" as a zero (0), and for checksum purposes it counted as a 3.
All ISMNs are now thirteen digits commencing 979-0; 979-1 to 979-9 will be used by ISBN.
Publisher identification code numbers are unlikely to be the same in the 978 and 979 ISBNs, likewise, there is no guarantee that language area code numbers will be the same.
Moreover, the 10-digit ISBN check digit generally is not the same as the 13-digit ISBN check digit.
Because the GTIN-13 is part of the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) system (that includes the GTIN-14, the GTIN-12, and the GTIN-8), the 13-digit ISBN falls within the 14-digit data field range.
Barcode format compatibility is maintained, because (aside from the group breaks) the ISBN-13 barcode format is identical to the EAN barcode format of existing 10-digit ISBNs.
So, migration to an EAN-based system allows booksellers the use of a single numbering system for both books and non-book products that is compatible with existing ISBN based data, with only minimal changes to information technology systems.
Although many American and Canadian booksellers were able to read EAN-13 barcodes before 2005, most general retailers could not read them.
- ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number)
- BICI (Book Item and Component Identifier)
- CODEN (serial publication identifier currently used by libraries; replaced by the ISSN for new works)
- CSBN (Chinese Standard Book Number, 10 digits from 1987 to 2007, 13 digits since 2008, includes the LSBN, by the China ISBN Centre)
- DOI (Digital Object Identifier)
- ESTC (English Short Title Catalogue)
- ETTN (Electronic Textbook Track Number)
- ISAN (International Standard Audiovisual Number)
- ISMN (International Standard Music Number)
- ISRC (International Standard Recording Code)
- ISSN (International Standard Serial Number)
- ISTC (International Standard Text Code)
- ISWC (International Standard Musical Work Code)
- ISWN (International Standard Wine Number)
- LCCN (Library of Congress Control Number)
- License number (East German books)  (Book identification system used between 1951 and 1990 in the former GDR)
- List of group-0 ISBN publisher codes
- List of group-1 ISBN publisher codes
- List of ISBN identifier groups
- LSBN (Chinese book identification system since 1982, main part of CSBN)
- OCLC number (Online Computer Library Center number)
- Registration authority
- SICI (Serial Item and Contribution Identifier)
- VD 16 (Verzeichnis der im deutschen Sprachbereich erschienenen Drucke des 16. Jahrhunderts, "Bibliography of Books Printed in the German Speaking Countries of the Sixteenth Century")
- VD 17 (Verzeichnis der im deutschen Sprachraum erschienenen Drucke des 17. Jahrhunderts, "Bibliography of Books Printed in the German Speaking Countries of the Seventeenth Century")
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International Standard Book Number.