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ISBN Application


ISBN Application – International Standard Book Number

International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a 13-digit unique identifier allotted by the UK based ISBN agency. It acts as an identifier of books and is generally utilized by publishers, booksellers, librarians, internet retailers and other supply chain participants for ordering, listing, sales records and stock control purposes. A mark of ISBN can be found on the back jacket of most publications. Each edition of a book, other than the reprinted versions, must be assigned with an ISBN.

The Evolvement of Digits

ISBN was brought into the frame in the year 1966 in the name of Standard Book Numbering (SBN). The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) then intervened and changed it to a ten-digit ISBN to meet the international requirements. Currently, the ISBN is determined in accordance with the date of issue; ISBN issued after the 1st of January 2007 will consist of 13 digits, whereas the ones issued prior to this date would be assigned with ten-digits.

Elements of Identification

ISBN helps in identifying the following:

•   The title of the publication.

•   Author of the publication.

•   The type of book.

•   Physical properties of the particular book.

•   The geographical location of the publisher.

ISBN is in the form of 13 digits, which includes five elements separated by spaces and hyphens:

•    GS1 element – a specified prefix element in three digits that identifies a series of number as ISBN. As per ISBN’s official website, publishers are currently afforded with the choice of 978 or 979.

•    Registration group element – refers to a particular country, geographical area or language connected with the ISBN, or in other words, the country or language of the book. The numbers of digits here could range between 1-5.

•    Registrant element – refers to the particular publisher or imprint within a registration group. Its length can be as high as seven digits.

•    Publication element – refers to a particular edition and format of a specific date, the length of which can be as high as six digits.

•    Check digit – the fifth and final element of ISBN is a check digit which is single. It would mathematically validate the rest of the numbers, and is calculated using a Modulus 10 algorithm.

Need and Relevance

ISBN was introduced to the publishing world as a system that can be handy in cataloguing, ordering, and locating books. As a result, the author of today requires an ISBN to get his/her book into a bookstore, library or any other distribution channels except for Amazon and other e-book channels. The mechanism has proved to be useful in various domains, as the appropriate edition of a book can now be found by scanning its ISBN.

ISBN’s are mandated for text-based monographic publications, which doesn’t include journals, newspapers or other types of serials. Apart from this, individual sections of a book (let’s say a chapter or a unit) or issues of articles from journals, periodicals or serials which are published for a separate cause may use it as an identifier.

Let’s make it precise. ISBN is applicable to the following products:

  • Various product forms and printed books and pamphlets.
  • Monographic publications.
  • Microform publications.
  • Braille publications.
  • Digital publications viz e-books either on physical carriers such as machine-readable tapes, diskettes, CD-ROMs) or on the internet (for download or streaming).
  • Infrequently updated or discontinued publications.
  • Individual articles.
  • Educational software, films, videos and audio books which are not intended for entertainment.
  • Mixed-media publications.
  • Print-on-demand publications.
  • Books on art or illustrated books with a title page and/or text or captions.
  • E-book apps which have significant textual content.
  • Set of volumes or packs of books.

 Monographic publications – A monograph is a book which is exclusively written for a particular subject by a single author, the nature of which is oriented with its study

Print-on-demand publications – refers to a publication which is printed on the demand of the consumer.

Microform Publications – reproductions of archival materials mostly used for research purposes.

On the other hand, ISBN’s are not applicable for:

  • Serials, periodicals or journals which aren’t suitable for ISBN.
  • Journals and record books.
  • Art prints and folders without title page and text.
  • Digital bulletin boards.
  • E-mails and other means of digital correspondence.
  • Personal documents like digital curriculum vitae or personal profile.
  • Greeting cards.
  • Videos, DVDs or other entertainment platforms.
  • Computer games.
  • Computer application packages.
  • Printed music.
  • Music sound recordings.
  • Continuing resources treated wholly as biographic entities.
  • Abstract entities, the likes of which include textual works and other abstract creations of intellectual or artistic content.
  • Items prescribed for a specific domain, for example – academic books.
  • License key vouchers that enable access to digital monographic publications on the internet.
  • Websites.

Who Should Apply?

The provisions of ISBN must be sought by publishers. Publishers in this context refer to a group, organization, company or individual who is vested with the responsibilities of initiating the production of a publication.

Benefits of the Mechanism

The mechanism of ISBN renders the following benefits:

  • Acts as a unique international identifier for monographic publications.
  • Replaces the manual handling of long bibliographic descriptive records, thereby saving time and labour costs. Also, it curtails the occurrence of copying errors.
  • Leads to product differentiation, which helps the consumers to identify their target product among the identical ones.
  • Enables compilation and upgradation of book trade directories and bibliographic databases.
  • Ensures speed and efficiency in the ordering and distribution of books, management of sale system in shops, supply chain systems, management of sales data and stock control.
  • As ISBN is machine-readable in the form of a 13-digit EAN-13 barcode, and hence it works fast by avoiding mistakes.
  • ISBN facilitates the functioning of electronic point-of-sale systems in bookshops.
  • ISBN accumulates the sales data, which enables the varying successes of different product forms and editions of publications to be monitored. Also, it facilitates the comparisons between different subject areas and even different publishing houses.
  • Certain countries pursue their landing rights on the basis of ISBN, which enables authors and illustrators to receive payments proportionate to the number of times their books are lent out by public libraries.
  • Spreads the awareness of the book.

The Rule of Distinction

A book can be printed in multiple versions, all of which require a unique ISBN. Also, authors penning down book series are required to avail a unique ISBN for each of them.

Display of ISBN on Publications

The placing of ISBN varies according to the type of publication. We have listed each of them below for the awareness of the reader:

For printed publications, it must be portrayed on the:

  • Verse of the title page.
  • Foot of the title page (in the absence of any space on the title verso).
  • The lower portion of the outer back cover.
  • Foot of the back of the jacket, wrapper or other protective cases.

For digital publications, the ISBN must be depicted on:

  • The title display or on the screen that displays the title or its equivalent.

For educational/instructional films:

  • On the credit lines.

For containers that form an integral part of a publication:

  • On any labels which were a part of the container.

Agency for Issue of ISBN

The agencies vested with the administration and issue of this unique code differs based on countries. In India, Raja Ram Mohan Roy National Agency for ISBN is endowed with these responsibilities. The body is under the purview of the Ministry of Human Resource Development and is affiliated to the Department of Higher Education, Book Promotion and Copyright Division.

The agency can be contacted in the following address:

Department of Higher Education 
Ministry of Human Resource Development 
Room No. 13, Jeevan Deep Building, 
4th Floor, Parliament Street, 
New Delhi. 
E-mail [email protected] 
contact no:- 011-23341739.

Application Procedure

Step 1: Official Portal

The application procedure for ISBN can be initiated by visiting the official portal, which is designed for this purpose.

Step 2: New Applicant Registration

As the applicants are new to the portal, the option “New Applicant Registration” must be chosen.

New Applicant Registration
New Applicant Registration

Step 3: Filling of Form

The form for registration will be displayed on the page, which must be filled based on the type of application. Upon filling it, the user must submit the same.

Step 4: Creation of User Name

The applicant will receive the username and password in his/her registered mail ID.

Step 5: Applicant Login

The applicant may log in to the system by clicking on the “Applicant Login” option.

Applicant Login
Applicant Login

Step 6: User Name and Password

The following screen would prompt the user to enter the username and password generated by the auto-mail. Upon logging in, the user is provided with the option of changing the password by clicking on the “Change Password” link.

User Name and Password
User Name and Password

Step 7: Apply for New Application    

In the login “Home Page”, the applicant needs to click on “Apply for New Application” link.

Step 8: Application Form 

The applicant is prompted to fill the application form with the essential details and upload the required documents in the specified format.

New Application
New Application

Step 9: Saving and Final Submission

After entering the details, the user needs to save the progress by clicking on the “Save” button. The following screen will depict the status of the application, where the “Submit to Agency” button must be clicked so as to furnish the same to the agency.

The application status would now show as “Submitted”. An update of the same will be sent to the registered email ID, thereby changing the status of the application.

Providing Clarifications

Step 1: View Details

If the agency requires any clarification from the user, the applicant will be intimated of the same in the “Application Status” column. The reply can be initiated by clicking on the “View Details” option.

Step 2: Filing a Reply

In the following page, the applicant needs to file a reply for the query posted by the agency, and click on the “Save and Submit” button. The status of the application will again be updated.

Assignment of ISBN’s

After enrolling into the ISBN scheme, the publishers are required to assign ISBN’s to all backlist publications and publish the same in any catalogues produced by the publisher.

International Allocation

Though assigned locally, ISBN’s serve an international purpose, which means that the same ISBN code can be used for a publication disregarding the geographical location.

Collaborative Publications

Publications which are issued as a joint imprint with other publishers are usually assigned an ISBN by the distributary publishers. On the other hand, the co-publisher may also choose to assign its own ISBN and display each of them in the copyright page. In the case of the latter, not more than one of these ISBNs should be displayed as a barcode on the publication.