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What is in an ISBN?
The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a 13-digit number that uniquely identifies books and book-like products published internationally. The ISBN is intended for a monographic publication: text that stands on its own as a product, whether printed, audio or electronic.
ISBN Barcode Generator

Usage area: ISBN - International Standard Book Number
Area: 1 - English language, Publisher: 234, assigned ISBN range: 978-1-234-00000 ÷ 978-1-234-99999

What is ISBN barcode?

This page concerns basic information of ISBN, as well as its generating and printing components. This part talks about the ISBN barcode. The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is special commercial book identifier which encodes 9 numeric digits apart from the start number "978", "979".

How do you find the ISBN code on a book?

Find the ISBN code. The title’s ISBN code should be found on the back of the book. Usually it will be over the barcode. It will always be identified with the prefix ISBN and will be either 10 or 13 digits long. The ISBN should also be available on the copyright page. It is separated into four parts, each separated by a hyphen.

What is the International Standard Book Number ( ISBN)?

The International Standard Book Number ( ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier that is intended to be unique. [a] [b] Publishers purchase or receive ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency. An ISBN is assigned to each separate edition and variation (except reprintings) of a publication.

What type of barcode does a book use?

Books often use the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) barcode format, which is compatible with EAN barcodes. Why do a barcode lookup? A product's packaging may not tell you everything you need to know about that product — where it comes from, how well it works or how it's priced at other stores.

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier that is intended to be unique.[a][b] Publishers purchase or receive ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.[1]

An ISBN is assigned to each separate edition and variation (except reprintings) of a publication. For example, an e-book, a paperback and a hardcover edition of the same book will each have a different ISBN. The ISBN is ten digits long if assigned before 2007, and thirteen digits long if assigned on or after 1 January 2007.[c] The method of assigning an ISBN is nation-specific and varies between countries, often depending on how large the publishing industry is within a country.

The initial ISBN identification format was devised in 1967, based upon the 9-digit Standard Book Numbering (SBN) created in 1966. The 10-digit ISBN format was developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and was published in 1970 as international standard ISO 2108 (the 9-digit SBN code can be converted to a 10-digit ISBN by prefixing it with a zero).

Privately published books sometimes appear without an ISBN. The International ISBN Agency sometimes assigns such books ISBNs on its own initiative

A separate ISBN is assigned to each edition and variation (except reprintings) of a publication. For example, an ebook, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover edition of the same book will each have a different ISBN assigned to it.[15]: 12  The ISBN is thirteen digits long if assigned on or after 1 January 2007, and ten digits long if assigned before 2007.[c][2] An International Standard Book Number consists of four parts (if it is a 10-digit ISBN) or five parts (for a 13-digit ISBN).
ISBN Barcode Generator
Section 5 of the International ISBN Agency's official user manual[15]: 11  describes the structure of the 13-digit ISBN
for a 13-digit ISBN, a prefix element – a GS1 prefix: so far 978 or 979 have been made available by GS1,
the registration group element (language-sharing country group, individual country or territory),[d]
the registrant element,
the publication element, and
a checksum character
A 13-digit ISBN can be separated into its parts (prefix element, registration group, registrant, publication and check digit), and when this is done it is customary to separate the parts with hyphens or spaces. Separating the parts (registration group, registrant, publication and check digit) of a 10-digit ISBN is also done with either hyphens or spaces. Figuring out how to correctly separate a given ISBN is complicated, because most of the parts do not use a fixed number of digits.
Issuing process
ISBN issuance is country-specific, in that ISBNs are issued by the ISBN registration agency that is responsible for that country or territory regardless of the publication language. The ranges of ISBNs assigned to any particular country are based on the publishing profile of the country concerned, and so the ranges will vary depending on the number of books and the number, type, and size of publishers that are active. Some ISBN registration agencies are based in national libraries or within ministries of culture and thus may receive direct funding from the government to support their services. In other cases, the ISBN registration service is provided by organisations such as bibliographic data providers that are not government funded.

Registration group element
The ISBN registration group element is a 1-to-5-digit number that is valid within a single prefix element (i.e. one of 978 or 979),[15]: 11  and can be separated between hyphens, such as "978-1-...". Registration groups have primarily been allocated within the 978 prefix element.[37] The single-digit registration groups within the 978-prefix element are: 0 or 1 for English-speaking countries; 2 for French-speaking countries; 3 for German-speaking countries; 4 for Japan; 5 for Russian-speaking countries; and 7 for People's Republic of China. An example 5-digit registration group is 99936, for Bhutan. The allocated registration groups are: 0–5, 600–625, 65, 7, 80–94, 950–989, 9917–9989, and 99901–99983.[38] Books published in rare languages typically have longer group elements.[39]

Within the 979 prefix element, the registration group 0 is reserved for compatibility with International Standard Music Numbers (ISMNs), but such material is not actually assigned an ISBN.[40] The registration groups within prefix element 979 that have been assigned are 8 for the United States of America, 10 for France, 11 for the Republic of Korea, and 12 for Italy.[41]

The original 9-digit standard book number (SBN) had no registration group identifier, but prefixing a zero to a 9-digit SBN creates a valid 10-digit ISBN.

Registrant element
The national ISBN agency assigns the registrant element (cf. Category:ISBN agencies) and an accompanying series of ISBNs within that registrant element to the publisher; the publisher then allocates one of the ISBNs to each of its books. In most countries, a book publisher is not legally required to assign an ISBN, although most large bookstores only handle publications that have ISBNs assigned to them.[42][43][44]

The International ISBN Agency maintains the details of over one million ISBN prefixes and publishers in the Global Register of Publishers.[45] This database is freely searchable over the internet.

Publishers receive blocks of ISBNs, with larger blocks allotted to publishers expecting to need them; a small publisher may receive ISBNs of one or more digits for the registration group identifier, several digits for the registrant, and a single digit for the publication element. Once that block of ISBNs is used, the publisher may receive another block of ISBNs, with a different registrant element. Consequently, a publisher may have different allotted registrant elements. There also may be more than one registration group identifier used in a country. This might occur once all the registrant elements from a particular registration group have been allocated to publishers.

By using variable block lengths, registration agencies are able to customise the allocations of ISBNs that they make to publishers. For example, a large publisher may be given a block of ISBNs where fewer digits are allocated for the registrant element and many digits are allocated for the publication element; likewise, countries publishing many titles have few allocated digits for the registration group identifier and many for the registrant and publication elements.[46] Here are some sample ISBN-10 codes, illustrating block length variations.

ISBN-10 to ISBN-13 conversion
A 10-digit ISBN is converted to a 13-digit ISBN by prepending "978" to the ISBN-10 and recalculating the final checksum digit using the ISBN-13 algorithm. The reverse process can also be performed, but not for numbers commencing with a prefix other than 978, which have no 10-digit equivalent.

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)
The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique International Publisher’s Identifier number, which is meant for monograph publications. ISBN is the thirteen-digit number, which replaces the handling of long bibliographic descriptive records. ISBN is known throughout the world as a short and clear machine-readable identification number, which marks any book unmistakably. ISBN is a machine readable in the form of 13-digit i.e. Book land EAN Bar Code.

ISBN Barcode Generator
First I'll choose a book and show you its ISBN and its ISBN barcode.

I've chosen a book called “Beyond Bullet Points”, it's by Cliff Atkinson and it's published by Microsoft Press.
If you want to understand what the different parts of an ISBN mean, or the difference between 10-digit and 13-digit ISBNs, then see the 10 digit ISBN and 13 digit ISBN pages.

Actually, there are two barcodes there. The ISBN barcode is on the left, while on the right is an extra barcode which is called an ISBN Addon5. For the time being we are just interested in the ISBN barcode on the left.

First we are going to be an ISBN generator and build the ISBN barcode from the ISBN number 9780735623873. In order to do that, there are some basic principles to get to grips with.

Like most things to do with computers, everything eventually comes down to zeros and ones. The ISBN barcode is no exception. The black bars and the white spaces between the bars translate to a combination of zeros and ones. In what follows, instead of talking about black bars and white spaces, I'll just call them black bars and white bars.

You will notice that the black and white bars are of varying widths. There are four different widths for both black and white.

Principle 1: The thinnest bar is called the module or x-width.

The next thickest is twice the thickness of the first - two modules. The width of the third thickest is three modules, and the widest is four modules.

The whole ISBN barcode is a set number of modules wide. That number turns out to be 95.

Principle 2: A thin black bar is a one (1) and a thin white bar is a zero (0).

Every edition of a book has a unique number, but every ISBN barcode has the same basic framework. This is illustrated below.
Those three groups of bars create the framework for the rest of the ISBN barcode. They are not part of the ISBN number, but as far as the workings of the ISBN barcode system are concerned they are the fundamental structure of the barcode and provide the container, if you like, for the ISBN number itself.

As part of the ISBN barcode, each of the bars of the framework have the values noted in Principle 2. The left and right parts are both a black bar, a white bar and a black bar, so both have binary values of 101. The centre bars, while they look the same as the outer bars, are in fact white, black, white, black and white, which is 01010. You need to be aware that there is a white bar to left and a white bar to the right of what you can see. All of the bars so far described are bars of the thinnest variety, so are one module wide. That's three modules on the left, five in the middle and three on the right.
That means there is room left for 84 modules – 42 in the first large space and 42 in the second. There are six ISBN digits in the first space and six in the second. Each ISBN digit needs 7 modules of space in which to encode it. 7 modules each for 12 digits uses up exactly the 84 modules of space. But wait! The ISBN number comprises 13 digits, and we only have room for 12. The reason for this is that the first of the thirteen characters of the ISBN number is not encoded in the same way as the following twelve. It doesn't actually appear as black and white bars - it's encoded in a different way. We'll see how that happens in a while. First I will explain how the final 6 characters of the ISBN number are encoded – they're the easiest to understand and that will give us a good foundation on which to understand the slightly more complex encoding of the first 7 characters.

If you guessed that the final six characters are encoded into the space between the middle bars and the final bars, then you guessed correctly. Below is a table that shows the encoding regime for the final 6 characters.

If you compare the Scheme A binary codes with the codes from the previous table for the final six characters that we have just completed, you will notice that each 1 is now a 0 and each 0 is now a 1. Similarly, if you compare Scheme B binary codes with the codes from the previous table for the final six characters, you will notice that they are flipped, right to left.

Each remaining character in the ISBN number, apart from the first one, is encoded from one of the two schemes, A or B. Which scheme to use for which character is determined by a further table. It is the choice of which scheme is used for each of characters 2 to 7 that encodes the value of the first character of an ISBN barcode. The first character in an ISBN number is always a 9. 

ISBN Barcode Specifications
There are some specifications about sizes that you need to be aware of.

Standard dimensions are given for various ISBN barcode factors. There should be a quiet zone or light margin with nothing printed in it to the left and right of the ISBN barcode. This is so that the barcode scanner and the barcode software is able to determine where the ISBN barcode begins and ends.
The dimensions shown below are for a nominal size of ISBN barcode. This is referred to as the 100% magnification. The nominal module or x-width size is 0.33 millimetres. Instances of the ISBN barcode may be used down to 80% and up to 200% of the nominal size.

ISBN Barcode Reader
Now we are going to take our ISBN barcode and be an ISBN barcode scanner and read the ISBN barcode, scanning the system of black and white bars and decoding them into the valid ISBN number.

First the ISBN barcode scanner needs to find the left guard pattern of black-white-black (101). This will enable the ISBN barcode software to find out where the pattern of bars will begin and to determine the width of the basic unit width, know as the module or x-width. All of the guard bars, both black and white, are one module wide.

The left guard bars are a one module width black bar, followed by a one module width white bar (effectively the background colour of the ISBN barcode), and finishing with a second one module width black bar. Because the left guard finishes with a black bar, then the following section has to begin with a white bar.

In reading this section of 24 bars, we are reading the encoded data for 6 digits of the ISBN number that this ISBN barcode represents. Each of those six in this section is encoded as four bars – white-black-white-black. Each bar can be of varying width. At this stage of the scanning of the ISBN barcode, just be aware of those basic facts. We will learn more about the widths of the bars when we come to decode the bars. At the moment our barcode scanner is recording what it reads for later processing - essentially the colour and width of the bars.

A Brief Aside As it happens, we don't really need to decode the first digit of an ISBN number, because it will always be a 9. From the 1st of January 2007 all new ISBN numbers conform to a wider system of product numbering known as EAN, and all ISBN barcodes also conform to the same international product numbering system. That standard gives the first two or three digits if the 13-digit product code to the country of origin of the item. In the case of books and their ISBN numbers, they are all deemed to come from the imaginary region known as Bookland. Bookland has the country designators 978 and 979. You may sometimes see a 13-digit ISBN number referred to as a Bookland ISBN. For more details see the 13-digit ISBN numbers page. For details of the older ISBN standard see the 10-digit ISBN numbers page. For details of the wider system of product numbering see the EAN page.

Because ISBN numbers conform to the wider EAN standard, we shall carry out the decoding as if we were decoding a general 13-digit EAN.
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