September 19, 2008, Newsletter Issue #150: What are ISBN Numbers?

Tip of the Week

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It is a unique, machine-readable identification number, which marks a book like a person's thumbprint marks that individual. This worldwide 10-digit number (soon to be 13 digit) is divided into the following four parts, each separated by a hyphen: Group/country identifier: identifies a national or geographic group of publishers Publisher identifier: identifies a publisher within a group Title identifier: identifies a title or edition of a title Check digit: single digit which validates the ISBN

U.S. publishers self book publishing should apply for ISBNs with the following agency: U.S. ISBN Agency, 630 Central Avenue, New Providence, NJ 07974, telephone: 877-310-7333, e-mail:, website:

*Their website features an online application and a printable application that you may submit through the U.S. mail. The minimum number of ISBN's that can be purchased is 10 and is soon to go to 13.

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