ISBN-13 barcodes are based on a book’s ISBN number. Found on the back of book covers or the inside cover of mass-market paperbacks, ISBN-13 barcodes are scanned at the cash register as well as at other points during distribution.
ISBN-13 barcodes will replace the older Bookland barcodes beginning January 1, 2007. Like Bookland barcodes, ISBN-13 barcodes are EAN-13 barcodes with a 5-digit supplemental code. The EAN-13 portion on the left encodes the ISBN number itself and the supplemental code on the right is used to encode the retail price.
What’s an ISBN?
Defined by ISO 2108, International Standard Book Numbers are a unique identifier assigned to each edition of every published book and book-like product. After January 1, 2007, ISBN’s will be a 13-digit number, as opposed to the older 10-digit format.
How is an ISBN-13 barcode different from a Bookland barcode?
ISBN-13 and Bookland barcodes are both used on books and look the same. The difference is the structure of the ISBN number used to make them. The older Bookland symbol was based on 10-digit ISBN numbers and always began with “978”. The newer ISBN-13 symbols are based on 13-digit ISBN’s. While they begin with “978” now, as the “978” number space is exhausted, ISBN’s beginning with “979” will be used. Important: Do not use a 979 prefix until directed to do so by an ISBN standards body.
How can ISBN-10 be converted to ISBN-13?
To convert an ISBN-10 to an ISBN-13, drop the last digit (the check digit) of the ISBN-10. The prefix “978” is added to the beginning of the now 9-digit number. The check digit is then recalculated using a mod 10 check digit routine.
Can I just add the “978” prefix to my ISBN-10 to turn it into an ISBN-13?
No. Although it is true that the ISBN-13 will be preceded by 978, the check digit (the last digit) will be dropped and another check digit will be calculated according to a new formula. This new check digit will then replace the old one.
What do publishers do with the ISBN-10s they haven’t used up by January 1, 2007?
Publishers should convert their remaining ISBN-10s to the equivalent ISBN-13 using the conversion formula.
So why the change?
This change to ISBN-13 expands the numbering capacity of the ISBN system and alleviates numbering shortages in certain areas of the world. It also aligns the book numbering system for books with the global EAN.UCC identification system used to identify most other consumer goods worldwide. The geeky answer is that ISBN-13 barcodes are now GTIN-compliant, like other items in the retail and distribution channel.
Will the barcode on the book be any different?
The barcode itself will not be different. What will change is the printing of the ISBN number right above the barcode. Both the old and new barcodes are EAN-13 symbols with a 5-digit supplemental code.
Who is affected? What has to be done?
Everyone who deals with books will be affected, including publishers, distributors, retailers, and libraries. Publishers will have to make sure that books are printed with the new ISBN-13 in the proper places on the cover, and that the barcode also has the correct ISBN printed over it.
In addition, the systems that a publisher uses will be affected; accounting, product information, production, supply systems, accounting, and contracts, for example. Similarly, retailers and trade partners will have to update all of the ISBNs stored in their databases, and may need to review their ordering systems, stock control, and accounting. Libraries will have to take into account all of the above, but will also have to keep old ISBNs on record in the event that a patron is searching for a book by ISBN-10. This means that library systems must be able to support both ISBN-10 and ISBN-13.
However, this doesn’t mean that everyone has to replace all of the old ISBNs that have already been printed with the new ISBN-13. The recommended method is to use dual numbering to facilitate the transition. This means including both the ISBN-10 and the ISBN-13 on books until January 1, 2007. Then the ISBN-10 will be dropped from the book covers, and only the ISBN-13 will remain.
What happens if a book is printed with the wrong ISBN on the cover?
There are two options: the book can be reprinted or the incorrect barcode can have a correctly barcoded sticker placed over it. If books have already left the publisher with an incorrect barcode, distributors and resellers should be notified of the error as quickly as possible.
Will books that have already been published need new ISBNs?
No, an existing book’s ISBN-10 can be converted to its ISBN-13 counterpart using the conversion formula. The ISBN and barcode do not need to be changed until the book is reprinted.