Friday 23 February 2018

New Edition of ISBN Standard is published

London, UK
23 February 2018
ISBN (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

The International ISBN Agency and a group of national ISBN agency experts have also prepared a new Users’ Manual and series of FAQs based on the latest edition of the Standard. The Users’ Manual is the definitive guide to the ISBN Standard and system. The FAQs provide quick advice on some of the key aspects of ISBN and, in some cases, there are links directly back to the Users’ Manual for further information. The new Users’ Manual and FAQs are available, in English only at present, see Translations will be made available as and when they are ready.

About the International ISBN Agency

The International ISBN Agency is based in London, UK and is the body which has responsibility for the implementation of ISO 2108, working to promote, coordinate and supervise use of the ISBN system worldwide. There are 150 national and regional ISBN Agencies providing advice and support to publishers on a local basis. A list of ISBN Agencies is available at

For further information

International ISBN Agency 48/49 Russell Square London WC1B 4JP Tel: +44 20 7580 8536 Email:


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