ISBN 10 / ISBN 13

What is the difference between ISBN 10 and ISBN 13?

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. In the past publishers used ISBN 10, which refers to ISBN numbers that are 10 digits long. In 2001, a working group was set up to revise the ISBN standard. In January 2007, the length of ISBN numbers was increased from 10 to 13 digits, to ensure that they did not run out of numbers.

The only difference between an ISBN 10 and an ISBN 13 are in the first three digits and the last digit. The first three digits are called the prefix element and the last digit is called the check digit. You can find further details about the format of ISBN numbers from the International ISBN Agency (Link).

ISBN 10-13

Example of an ISBN 10: ISBN 85-254-1293-7
Example of an ISBN 13: ISBN 978–85-254-1293-5

The prefix element is issued by GS1. Prefixes that have already been issued by GS1 are 978 and 979. The GS1 agency (Link) is responsible for issuing unique numbers, to ensure the reliable identification of products and assets. GS1 is responsible for issuing bar codes worldwide. The addition of the prefix element ensures that ISBN 13 is compatible with the worldwide bar coding scheme.

The ISBN number should be displayed in eye readable format along the top of the bar code and along the bottom in EAN barcode format. You can find out more about bar codes for books from Book Industry Communications (Link).

All ISBN numbers should now have 13 digits. If you have purchased ISBN 10s, you will need to convert them into ISBN 13s. You can convert them into ISBN 10s using an ISBN Convertor.

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