March 22, 2018

New Edition of ISBN Standard is Published

From the International ISBN Agency:

2018-02-23_11-00-15ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is probably one of the best known standards in the world – the 13 digit number for a publication, (usually represented as a bar code if it is a printed book), is a familiar sight to many. The fifth and latest edition of the ISBN Standard (ISO 2108) has now been published by ISO (International Organization for Standardization) – the world’s largest developer of voluntary International Standards.

ISO has appointed the International ISBN Agency to act as the global registration authority for the ISBN Standard and system. Stella Griffiths, Executive Director of the International ISBN Agency said:

“The new Standard has been developed by an international working group of 41 experts from 14 countries who were involved with the project for three years, providing advice, feedback and discussion points as the work progressed. Their work ensures that we have an identifier that supports and responds to the needs of an evolving supply chain.”

While ISBN remains the key identifier for books in the supply chain and will retain its current 13-digit structure, there are significant changes in this edition of the Standard.

The new Standard contains:

  • expanded guidance on assignment to digital publications
  • revised metadata specifications which now bring these in line with ONIX 3.0
  • expanded terms and definitions sections
  • further clarity on the scope of eligible products
  • detailed guidance on the granularity of individual products and the impact on ISBN
    assignment, such as changes in usage constraints (allowing printing of some pages of a
    digital publication or lending to a friend), or different product form details (jacketed versus
    unjacketed hardback)
  • an informative annex about how to make ISBN resolvable on digital networks using
    persistent identifiers, such as expressing an ISBN in DOI or URN
  • explanation about the conditions of compliance when implementing ISBN

The new ISBN standard is available from

See Also: ISBN Users Manual

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.