What is ISBN

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number and it is international identification system for each separate book (monograph publication) with the help of numbers.

ISBN is a unique and irreplaceable number which refers only to one title, i.e. unchanged edition of the same title from the same publisher.

ISBN is assigned to publications under the control of the International ISBN Agency in London.

What kind of data ISBN contains

ISBN is composed of the prefix "ISBN" and a number of thirteen digits, arranged in five sections / groups, mutually separated by a dash or spaced, in the following order:

  • The first group of digits represents the prefix element 978 which is produced by EAN International;
  • The second group of digits indicates the national, geographical or linguistic whole;
  • The third group of digits refers to the publisher within the first group;
  • The fourth group of digits is the identification number of the specific title of the publication that is published by a particular publisher;
  • The fifth group is a unique reference number.

Example: The book "Linear and Nonlinear Models" which was published by Walter de Gruyter in Berlin has the following tag:

ISBN 978-3-11-016216-5

978 - ISBN prefix
3 - international number for German speaking region
11 - mark of the publisher (publishing code/identifier)
016216 - title mark
5 - control number

The labeling of each book with ISBN, which is included in the International Automated Database, allows to determine:

  • the state or language unit within which a book has been published
  • publisher's name of the publication
  • publication title, volume and release

The length of the ISBN mark of the publisher (publishing code / identifier) is determined by the scope of its publishing production: publishers with greater production get shorter mark / code, and those with smaller publishing production receive longer mark / code.

Who assigns ISBN in the Republic of Macedonia

The ISBN Agency of the Republic of Macedonia under the National and University Library “St. Kliment Ohridski” – Skopje, assigns ISBN signs for publishers in our country.

Which publications receive ISBN

Examples of types of monographic publications to which an ISBN shall be assigned are:

  • Printed books and pamphlets
  • Braille publications
  • Publications that are not intended by the publisher to be updated regularly or continued indefinitely
  • Atlases and maps
  • Educational/instructional films, videos and transparencies
  • Audio books on cassette, or CD, or DVD (talking books)
  • Electronic publications either on physical carriers (such as machine-readable tapes, diskettes, or CD-ROMs) or on the Internet (for download or streaming)
  • Microform publications
  • Educational or instructional software
  • Mixed media publications (where the principal constituent is text-based)

Examples of types of monographic publications to which an ISBN shall not be assigned are:

  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Printed music
  • Magazine offprint
  • Art prints and art folders without title page and text
  • Advertising materials (sales catalogs, book catalog and art catalogs without bibliographical value, production programs, price lists, brochures, manuals, technical guides, invitations)
  • Posters, wall newspapers and leaflets
  • Theater, concert and other event programs
  • Exhibition catalogs with short text
  • Curricula and school work plans, and plans of other educational institutions, reports and other school materials in the form of a manuscript or printed
  • Various kinds pocket calendars, diaries
  • Templates, forms, registration sheets
  • Music tapes and vinyl etc.
Application of ISBN

A separate ISBN shall be assigned to each separate monographic publication or separate edition or format of a monographic publication issued by a publisher.

New ISBN number is not assigned to a new unchanged edition or reprint of the same format from the same publisher.

ISBN designation awarded once a title should not be used for another title.

Publications may comprise more than one volume, and in these cases an ISBN must be assigned to cover the entire set, and if individual volumes of the set are available separately, each volume must be assigned a unique ISBN to identify it. The verso of the title page (or an equivalent position in a non-print version) in each case should clearly display the ISBN for the set as a whole as well as the ISBN for that particular volume.

Sets of two or more pieces of different or the same media receive as a whole a common ISBN and each part its own ISBN.

If the publication has two or more publishers, each of them specifies its ISBN, i.e. such publication has two or more ISBN codes.

In a publication, which is a translation, the ISBN of the translation and the ISBN of the original edition shall be stated.

Printing of ISBN

In the case of printed publications, the ISBN must appear on the:

  • before or after the CIP record
  • on the last cover on the outside in the lower right corner (with or without BAR CODE)

The number must be preceded by the abbreviation ISBN.

Advateges of ISBN

We recommend the publishers to engage in the general International system for marking publications for: simpler and better identification of their publications, a better record of publishing activities, primarily for international data exchange.

With the assignment of ISBN you are included in the International Directory of publishers using ISBN (Publishers International ISBN Directory) issued by the International ISBN Agency in London and you are bound to use ISBN in accordance with the international recommendations.

Apart from publishers, ISBN is also used by libraries, bookstores and individuals for: import / export, order processing, records of pre-orders, billing, storage and making inventory, interlibrary loans.

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