ISBN-13 (International Standard Book Number)

'ISBN' stands for 'International Standard Book Number'. An ISBN is a number, not a barcode. One agency per country is designated to assign ISBNs for the publishers and self-publishers located in that country. In Australia the ISBN agency is held by Thorpe-Bowker.
The ISBN identifies the title or other book-like product (such as an audio book or ebook) to which it is assigned, but also the publisher to be contacted for ordering purposes. If an ISBN is obtained from a company other than the official ISBN Agency, that ISBN will not identify the publisher of the title accurately. This can have implications for doing business in the publishing industry supply chain.
ISBNs are assigned to publishers and self-publishers as follows: 1, 10, 100, 1,000, 10,000 or 100,000 numbers.
When participating in the ISBN standard, publishers and self-publishers are required to report all information about titles to which they have assigned ISBNs. For more than thirty years, ISBNs were 10 digits long. On January 1, 2007 the ISBN system switched to a 13-digit format. Now all ISBNs are 13-digits long.

If you were assigned 10-digit ISBNs, you can convert them to the 13-digit format using the converter found at  A 10-digit ISBN cannot be converted to 13-digits merely by placing three digits in front of the 10-digit number. There is an algorithm that frequently results in a change of the last digit of the ISBN.

For Purchase Order (PO) and Purchase Order Acknowledgement (POA) documents we recommend adoption of the book industry specific XML-based format for EDI - known as EDItX, because it best meets publishing needs into the future. Further, the Australian Publishers Association is a member of EDItEUR and is able to lobby for modifications and enhancements to the EDItX standard if this proves necessary in order to meet local business needs.

For more information on ISBNs go to the Thorpe-Bowker web site or email



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