[ModLib] ISBNs

Gordon Barrick Neavill neavill at wayne.edu
Thu Jul 25 10:08:53 EDT 2013

The 9 digit numbers on the back panel of some late Giant jackets are actually standard book numbers, not international standard book numbers. The first field 394 identifies the publisher (394 is Random House), the second field indicates a specific title or edition (if a given publisher had hardbound and paperbound editions of the same title the second fields would be different), and the third field is a check digit based on the preceding numbers that made it possible for a computer to flag numbers that had been transcribed incorrectly. ISBN's, which didn't come into use until 1970, have 10 digits, with an added first field indicating the country or language area where a book is published (0 indicates English-language area, 3 indicates Germany, etc.)  Available 10-digit numbers began to be exhausted in the early years of the present century, and since 2007 all ISBN's are supposed to have 13 digits.

Gordon B. Neavill
Associate Professor
School of Library and Information Science
Wayne State University
106 Kresge Library
Detroit, MI 48202
313-577-0507; 313-577-7563 (fax)

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