ISBN numbers

International Standard Book Numbering (ISBN) is a system to identify texts that are published by an ISBN publisher using a simple number system to match with a book title.  The number consists of 10 digits; a group identifier, publisher identifier, title identifier and check digit.

ISBN 0 949999 08 2 ISBN International Standard Book Numbering, incorporating guidelines for software publishers, The Book Standard Numbering Agency 2002, UK ISBNA.

Each edition of a book or digital media needs a new ISBN number.  The numbers are usually obtained via the publisher, or by individuals self publishing texts in the UK, from;

International ISBN Agency, c/o EDItEUR, United House, North Road, London, N7 9DP, UK

Tel: +44 (0)1483 712 215    website:

The ISBN code can be converted to a bar code as well as a number code.  The number code must appear on the title page of the publication and on the back cover.  Sales outlets and libraries use the ISBN number as a text identifier for stock management and payments.  Some of the larger companies use the barcode which is an optional feature to scan texts on their computerised systems.  Without an ISBN number, texts will not be sold in most retail outlets.

A copy of each ISBN publication must be lodged with the British Library (Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003) within 1 month of publication.  It may also be prudent to lodge a copy of technical data with the copyright agency. Library boards in the UK are also able to make a request for 1 additional copy - such a request must be made within 12 months of publication.

There is a new draft paper before parliament (The Legal Deposit Libraries (Non-Print Works) Regulations 2013), which will make clear the requirements of non-printed deposits, when it is made a UK statutory instrument.  This legislation is expected to have an impact on publications made via websites and downloads.