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The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numerical book identifier[1] The 10-digit ISBN format was published as an international standard (ISO 2108) in 1970. Since 2007, the ISBN has 13 digits,[2] Periodical publications such as magazines are identified by the similar International Standard Serial Number (ISSN).

An ISBN is assigned to each edition and variation (except reprintings) of a book, and has 4 or 5 parts:

  1. a 13-digit ISBN has a GS1 prefix: 978 or 979
  2. a group identifier, (language-sharing country group) this is 0 or 1 for English-speaking countries; 2 for French-speaking countries; etc.[3]
  3. the publisher code,[4]
  4. the item number, and
  5. a checksum character or check digit.[5]


  1. History
  2. See International ISBN Agency FAQs
  3. Numerical List of Group Identifiers List of language/region prefixes
  4. See Publisher's International ISBN Directory
  5. The International Standard Book Number System ISBN Users' Manual, International edition, 4th Edition (online version)