The new ISBN-13 format

Beginning on January 1, 2007, ISBN agencies all over the world will assign new ISBN numbers that are 13 digits long, replacing the 10 digit numbers currently provided. Since ISBN numbers are used to identify books for production, ordering, inventory, or researching, it is imperative that publishers understand the rationale and ramifications behind this upcoming major change. The complexity of making the transition will vary from publisher to publisher, depending on existing systems and practices.

Benefits of the new ISBN-13 Format:

  • increase the available number of ISBNs worldwide.
  • enable conformance to the EAN global numbering system.

Converting to ISBN-13
In essence, the ISBN-13 is the data encodation of the existing Bookland EAN – the number derived from the current ISBN in the bar code symbol.  Publishers can utilize our conversion utility to convert their existing ISBN-10s to ISBN-13s.

To convert the current ISBN-10 into a ISBN-13 format:

Example:  0-123456-47-9

  1. Begin with prefix of “978”
  2. Use the first nine numeric characters of the ISBN (include dashes)
  3. Calculate the EAN check digit using the “Mod 10 Algorithm”

ISBN-10         0-123456-47-9
ISBN-13  978-0-123456-47-2

After January 1, 2007, the numbers issued by all ISBN agencies will have the new 13-digit structure; but as blocks of ISBN-13s built on existing ISBN-10s are exhausted, new blocks will be prefixed with 979 instead of the current 978.

For additional information, read ISBN-13 for Dummies.

To calculate the check digit for the new ISBN-13 click here.