13-Digit Barcoding


Are You Ready for ISBN-13?

» The Basics You Need to Know ... Now (All Publishers)
» If You Send and Receive EDI Orders ...
» If You Are a Librarian ...

If you have not already initiated your company transition plan for ISBN-13, you should begin today. This change will impact all business systems in the publishing industry.

On January 1, 2007, the book industry will begin using 13 digit ISBNs to identify all books in supply chain.

This change is happening for the following reasons:

to expand the numbering capacity of the ISBN system and alleviate numbering shortages in certain areas of the world;

to fully align the numbering system for books with the global EAN.UCC identification system that is widely used to identify most other consumer goods worldwide.

Two new prefixes are being created. The 978 prefix will be added in front of the current ISBN-10 and with the addition of a new check digit at the end, the new ISBN-13 is created.

To convert an ISBN-10 to and ISBN-13, use this Free ISBN Conversion Tool.

If you need assistance converting your entire catalog or inventory file, inquire about ISBN 13 Conversion Services.

The new 979 prefix will not be utilized until all 978 pre-fixes have been assigned. However, 13 digit ISBNs that begin with 979 can never be converted to 10 digit ISBNs. They have no 10 digit counterpart.

The Basics You Need to Know . . . Now

• Prior to January 1, 2007, books will continue to be published using ISBN-10s.

• Beginning January 1, 2007, all books will be published with ISBN-13s.

During the transition period, BISG recommends that publishers should:

- Print both the ISBN-10 and the ISBN-13 on the Copyright Page in this format:

ISBN-10:  1-56619-909-3
ISBN-13:  978-1-56619-909-4

- Use both the ISBN-10 and the ISBN-13 in all marketing and sales communications materials and business documents such as invoices, packing slips and credit memos.

- Develop the capacity to accept and process orders, credits and returns using both ISBN-10 and ISBN-13. This must be completed by January 1, 2007.

- Print only one bar code on Cover 4 -- the EAN bar code -- and cease using the UPC bar code. The EAN bar code is already a 13 digit ISBN without hyphens.

- Print the ISBN-10 above the bar code for titles published before January 1, 2007.

      ISBN: 1-4028-9462-7

• After January 1, 2007, the ISBN-13 officially becomes the "ISBN"; and the use of the ISBN-10 should be phased out. However, since customers may continue to order using ISBN-10 beyond that date, publishers and wholesalers should plan to maintain the capability to transact using the ISBN-10, while actively discouraging its use.

• For more detail, see the BISG ISBN 13 Recommendations.

• Or download a copy of ISBN-13 for Dummies, a special PDF prepared by BISG.

If you send and receive EDI orders . . .

There are also some important recommendations on the use of Product Identifiers in EDI transmissions:

• BISG supports the use of the full Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) group of identifiers (including the EAN/UCC-14, as well as the EAN/UCC-13, UPC-12 and EAN-8), and recommends that companies become GTIN compliant. Therefore, any organization making changes to accommodate transactions in 13 digits is strongly encouraged to plan on accommodating 14 digits as well.

• BISAC and the Internet Commerce Committee recommend sending all three identifiers in electronic transmissions throughout the transition period. The purpose of this approach, similar to the dual numbering of books, is to allow each organization to make the transition at its own pace, instead of subjecting the industry to an abrupt cutover.

• Organizations still using BISAC fixed field formats should research alternate methods of communication as soon as possible as no modifications will be made to support the ISBN-13.

If you are a Librarian . . .

And a user of Bowker’s Books in Print or Global Books in Print, click here for more info on the ISBN-13 in the products, to sign up for online training or to receive a special newsletter.


Last updated December 12, 2005



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