International Standard Book Number

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; 49 years ago (1970)
No. of digits13 (formerly 10)

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique.[a][b] Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.[1]

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 will 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. 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.[2]

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.


The Standard Book Numbering (SBN) code is a 9-digit commercial book identifier system created by Gordon Foster, Emeritus Professor of Statistics at Trinity College, Dublin,[3] for the booksellers and stationers WHSmith and others in 1965.[4] The ISBN identification format was conceived in 1967 in the United Kingdom by David Whitaker[5][6] (regarded as the "Father of the ISBN")[7] and in 1968 in the United States by Emery Koltay[5] (who later became director of the U.S. ISBN agency R.R. Bowker).[7][8][9]

The 10-digit ISBN format was developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and was published in 1970 as international standard ISO 2108.[4][5] The United Kingdom continued to use the 9-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.[10]

An SBN may be converted to an ISBN by prefixing the digit '0'. For example, the second edition of Mr. J. G. Reeder Returns, published by Hodder in 1965, has "SBN 340 01381 8", where '340' indicates the publisher, '01381' is the serial number assigned by the publisher, and '8' is the ISBN 0-340-01381-8; the check digit does not need to be re-calculated.

Since 1 January 2007, ISBNs have contained thirteen digits, a format that is compatible with "Bookland" European Article Number EAN-13s.[11]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: ISBN
asturianu: ISBN
Avañe'ẽ: ISBN
azərbaycanca: ISBN
Bân-lâm-gú: ISBN
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Міжнародны стандартны кніжны нумар
भोजपुरी: आइएसबीएन
brezhoneg: ISBN
català: ISBN
español: ISBN
Esperanto: ISBN
føroyskt: ISBN
Frysk: ISBN
galego: ISBN
íslenska: ISBN
italiano: ISBN
עברית: מסת"ב
Jawa: ISBN
қазақша: ISBN
kurdî: ISBN
latviešu: ISBN
Lëtzebuergesch: ISBN
lietuvių: ISBN
lumbaart: ISBN
magyar: ISBN
मैथिली: आइएसबिएन
македонски: ISBN
مازِرونی: شابک
မြန်မာဘာသာ: International Standard Book Number
नेपाली: आइएसबिएन
日本語: ISBN
norsk: ISBN
norsk nynorsk: ISBN
occitan: ISBN
русиньскый: ISBN
shqip: ISBN
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: ISBN
suomi: ISBN
svenska: ISBN
తెలుగు: ISBN
українська: ISBN
Tiếng Việt: ISBN
Winaray: ISBN
ייִדיש: ISBN
Yorùbá: ISBN