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International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a system of numerical identification for books, pamphlets, educational kits, microforms, CD-ROMs and other digital and electronic publications. ISBN is regulated internationally by the International ISBN Agency with individual countries having their own issuing agency. In Canada the agency is Canadian ISBN Agency.

Unique Number

Assigning a unique number to each published title provides that title with its own, unduplicated, internationally recognized identifier.

Each different format of an electronic publication (e.g., Kindle, Kobo, EPUB, MOBI, PDF) that is published and made separately available shall be given a separate ISBN.

Publishers, booksellers, libraries and others in the book industry use ISBNs to identify publications and determine the publishing country.

An ISBN is required for the sale and distribution of a publication.

What Does an ISBN Look Like?

An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a 13-digit number that uniquely identifies each specific edition of a book or book-like product. As an example an ISBN for BEYOND MOTIVATION is:

ISBN 978-1-894057-10-3 (kindle)

This 13-digit number is divided into five parts of variable length; each part is separated by a hyphen. The five parts of an ISBN, in order, are:

  1. the 3 digit prefix element : the first three digits of the barcode number;
  2. the group identifier: a single digit following the prefix element that specifies the country or language in which the book is published;
  3. the publisher prefix: a number that identifies a particular publisher within the preceding group;
  4. the title identifier: a number that identifies a particular title or edition of a title issued by the preceding publisher;
  5. the check digit: a single digit at the end of the ISBN that validates the accuracy of the ISBN.

Publishing Resources:


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