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Purpose of International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

The International Standard Book Number is a distinctive alphanumeric commercial book identification. Publishers obtain ISBNs from an International ISBN Agency affiliate.

Each special edition and modification (excluding reprintings) of a publication is issued an ISBN. Thus, an e-book, a paperback, and a hardcover version of the same book, for example, will all have a unique ISBN. ISBNs assigned prior to 2007 are ten digits in length; ISBNs assigned on or after 1 January 2007 are thirteen digits in length. The procedure for issuing an ISBN is country-specific and varies by country, frequently dependent on the size of the publishing sector within a country.

ISBN's first format was developed in 1967, based on the 9-digit Standard Book Numbering (SBN) system established in 1966. Then, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) devised the ten-digit ISBN format, which was published as international standard ISO 2108 in 1970 (the nine-digit SBN code may be changed to a ten-digit ISBN by prefixing it with the zero digits '0').

Occasionally, privately produced books appear without an ISBN. The International ISBN Agency occasionally gives ISBNs to such publications at its discretion.

Getting an International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

Publishers apply ISBNs to the respective national ISBN agencies. For instance, if you are a publisher that is based in the United States, then you would apply your ISBN to the national ISBN Agency of the United States.

If you are asking for an ISBN on behalf of a corporation or organization, it makes no difference in which nation your company or organization is officially registered (e.g., for legal or tax reasons); what matters is the place from which your company or organization does business and functions. (If your organization has several locations, perhaps in several countries, ISBNs should be acquired depending on the location of your organization's headquarters). In addition, it makes no difference whether the language your publications are published in or which nation they are produced, produced, promoted, or sold in.

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