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Home > Life Style > Entertainment > Books > ISBN 10 and ISBN 13 Compared

Difference Between ISBN 10 and ISBN 13

ISBN 10 vs ISBN 13

You must have seen all those strange looking dark and light vertical lines interspersed and having a 10 digit numbers on the top of whatever books you purchased from bookstores. If you do not know, this number is known as ISBN, or International Standard Book Number which is a code developed by Gordon Foster to assign a distinct identification number to each new printed and published book. While ISBN consisted of 10 digits earlier, publishers realized that they would soon run out of numbers and so a new ISBN 13 was created. Since 1st January 2007, all books have ISBN 13 printed on their backs.

Thus it is clear that ISBN 10 is an old system of identification of books that has been superseded by ISBN 13. While all ISBN 10 began with 978, ISBN numbers begin with 979. ISBN number is divided into parts that identify different things such as Group, Publisher, Item number, and a check digit. All new books have a separate ISBN number for paperback edition and another ISBN number for hardcover edition.

In any ISBN number, the last number is called check digit and allows one to check whether the number is genuine or not. For example in ISBN 10, multiply the first 9 digits by a number ranging from 10 to 2 and then add all the results. Divide this result by 11. If you do not get any remainder then only the ISBN number is valid.

It is possible to generate a new ISBN 13 number for any ISBN 10 number. Just go to a website called http://www.barcoderobot.com/isbn-13.html and enter 978+the old ISBN 10. The site will generate the new ISBN 13 number and also give the new barcode image.

If you are a publisher wishing to sell your books on Amazon or eBay, you need to apply for ISBN number. You need to pay a registration and processing fee. The process of application is simple and fast and you can do so by applying online at ISBN.org

In brief:

• ISBN refers to International Standard Book Number and is a distinct number given to every new book published.

• ISBN 10 is the older system and as publishers were running out of numbers, ISBN 13 was developed and is being used since 1st January 2007.


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