International Standard Book Number
A 13-digit ISBN, 978-3-16-148410-0, as represented by an EAN-13 bar code
OrganisationInternational ISBN Agency
Introduced1970 (1970)[1]
No. of digits13 (formerly 10)
Check digitWeighted sum

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier that is intended to be unique.[a][b] Publishers purchase or receive ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.[2]

An ISBN is assigned to each separate edition and variation (except reprintings) of a publication. For example, an e-book, a paperback and a hardcover edition of the same book must each have a different ISBN. The ISBN is ten digits long if assigned before 2007, and thirteen digits long if assigned on or after 1 January 2007.[c] 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).

Privately published books sometimes appear without an ISBN. The International ISBN Agency sometimes assigns such books ISBNs on its own initiative.[4]

Another identifier, the International Standard Serial Number (ISSN), identifies periodical publications such as magazines and newspapers. The International Standard Music Number (ISMN) covers musical scores.

  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference history was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ "The International ISBN Agency". Archived from the original on 24 February 2018. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  3. ^ Cite error: The named reference LAC FAQ was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  4. ^ Bradley, Philip (1992). "Book numbering: The importance of the ISBN" (PDF). The Indexer. 18 (1): 25–26. doi:10.3828/indexer.1992.18.1.11. S2CID 193442570. Archived from the original (PDF [245KB]) on 21 February 2021. Retrieved 4 September 2009.

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