Monday, December 18, 2006

All that mockery of ISBN references on Torchwood recently...?

Is it true 10 digit ISBNs are being replaced by a 13 digit number? According to my subscription newsletter from Shaker Publishing it is:

The established ISBN - in conjunction with the development of electronic publications - was on the verge of going beyond the scope of the ten-digit ISBN system as an identification feature for publications and their world-wide distribution (with 170 countries now affiliated to the ISBN system). The international ISBN agency thus decided to revise the standard using the EAN/barcode version and hence extend capacities with the 13-digit code.

Up to now the ISBN has consisted of four elements: the group identifier, publisher identifier, title identifier and check digit. For example, in the ISBN 3-8322-4968-0, 3 stands for German-speaking areas (the group number can identify language areas as well as countries or geographic regions and relates to the location of the publisher). 8322 identifies the publishing house and 4968 a certain publication or edition from this publisher. The 0 is the check digit that is determined according to a fixed arithmetic process and permits the detection of typing errors in an ISBN.

With the new ISBN-13 the number is now preceded by the prefix 978. This prefix is set aside for published products within the EAN (European/International Article Number) and become a firm part of the ISBN. This means that the check digit also changes since it is calculated from all of the preceding numbers. For example, the ISBN 3-8322-4968-0 becomes the ISBN 978-3-8322-4968-7. The X symbol is no longer used as a check code. EAN and ISBN are now identical in all positions.

Apart from the 978, EAN International had already assigned publishers the number 979, thus doubling the range of possible numbers. In the majority of countries the prefix 979 will not be issued until all ISBN areas with the prefix 978 have been used up.

Titles published this year usually bear both the valid ISBN-10 as well as the future ISBN-13 in the transitional phase. Only the ISBN-13 will be used as of 1 January 2007. This applies for all new publications and the so-called backlist. Although books that have already been printed can still be sold with the ISBN-10 information; the titles will be identified by their newly converted ISBN-13 in all catalogues and automatic storage systems. This will primarily effect the catalogues and ordering systems of the publishers, suppliers and retailers as well as the bibliographic databases in libraries. The old ISBN will be replaced by the new ISBN-13 on and in reprints (including unchanged ones) of titles that have already been published.
How did I not know this???


JoeinVegas said...

Oh LIsa, letting me down. I thought you would be the first to know of the ISBN-13 movement, maybe actually involved in it yourself.
After all, they are supporting the full bar code stripes.

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

BWAH! Yes, I guess I should have!