All printed books and published works sold commercially carry an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) barcode, typically printed on the back, in the lower right corner.
But what is an ISBN, and how can it help you keep track of your published works? This guide will help you to understand how ISBN works and how Orca Scan can help you build a library of items using these unique identifiers.
What is an ISBN?
ISBN, or the International Standard Book Number, is a product identifier that registers a book, article, or other written publication with a unique 13-digit number so as not to confuse books with the same title and author worldwide.
An ISBN is mandatory for all editorial publications, although some digital literature (ePub, PDF etc.) also contain them.
How do ISBN work?
The use of ISBN is worldwide. Using ISBN, publishing industries and libraries can organize and take control of stock.
Each ISBN is divided into 5 parts:
- A 3-digit prefix, usually “978” – often known as a Brookland EAN.
- A region number up to 5 digits long.
- A publisher registry number is up to 7 digits long.
- An edition registry number up to 6 digits long.
- A validation number is calculated mathematically using the previous numbers.
What is an ISBN barcode?
An ISBN barcode is a graphical representation of the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) that also includes additional information, such as price, so that it can be scanned for inventory tracking and ensures items are being purchased and accessed for the correct value.
Why track published articles, including books, using ISBN barcodes?
When attempting to manage an extensive collection of published works, it’s more efficient to track them by scanning the unique ISBN barcode than it is to write down their name and location. The simple reason is that it takes less time and eliminates human errors.
What are the benefits of ISBN?
ISBN has multiple, different benefits, including…
- Sourcing a book in a library or resource centre
- Being listed on a website or online sales platform.
- Increasing sales potential
- Allowing global recognition of a product – ISBN agencies around the world will catalogue a product based on each country’s requirements.
Put simply; an ISBN places the book, article or published works on the world market - without it, the book would be considered non-existent and would not be allowed access to many sales outlets or appear in global searches.
Another advantage is that the ISBN does not expire. Once paid, it belongs to the owner and remains the book’s identifier forever.
Who controls ISBN numbers?
ISBN is a form of standardisation, which is controlled by ISO, the International Organization for Standardization. Representing ISO, is The International ISBN Agency that has played the role of registering and assigning ISBNs worldwide.
Can two items have the same ISBN number?
No, the fact that each ISBN is unique allows an item to be easily identified.
You need to purchase a new ISBN and ISBN barcode for each version of a product, including:
- Digital versions
- New editions
- Translated works
However, it will not be necessary to create another ISBN if the item has a price change or is simply reprinted. The same ISBN can be reused if the publisher and text remain the same.
How to find a book through its ISBN?
To find books through their ISBN, existing online databases could be useful. You can use the search engine ISBN Search or ISBN Find.
How to get an ISBN barcode?
As a publisher or author, you can purchase your ISBN from a local ISBN Agency. The cost of acquiring the number may vary. Details on how to locate ISBN Agencies worldwide can be found on the International ISBN Agency website.
In the UK, an ISBN can be purchased for around £80 (barcode not included) and can be ordered online or by mail.
How to scan an ISBN barcode?
Our Orca Scan Book Tracking template makes it easy to manage your inventory using a smartphone, tablet or scanner.
Orca Scan automatically populates the Title, Description, Author(s), Publisher and Number of Pages each time an item is scanned. You can also enter a quantity and storage location.
Ready to try it? Scan the QR code below to get started 👇
Need help scanning a barcode?
At Orca Scan, we help automate your business and help you keep your inventory organized. If you need assistance managing your barcodes, please contact us. We’ll be happy to help.