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ISBN is the abbreviation of International Standard Book Number, an international code number to uniquely identify books. This can be either 10 or 13 characters. ISBN-10 was in use between 1970 and 2006. Books published from 2007 on carry an ISBN-13. Publishers are not obliged to use the ISBN code but nearly all book retailers will only carry books with an ISBN. (This is why books published by, for example, the Folio society do not carry an ISBN).

Here is a converter between the 10 and 13 character forms: http://pcn.loc.gov/isbncnvt.html . Another formatting and converting tool is IsbnCheckAndFormat.

Some books between 1966 and the mid-1970s have 9-digit SBNs. Convert to ISBN by adding a zero to the front.

Be aware that some early editions do not have the SBN recorded inside the book. They can usually be found on the spine of the book. Some also have the price of the book added as a 3-digit number to the end of the SBN, resulting in a 12-digit number. You can usually check this by comparing the last three digits to the price (e.g. 050 equals 50¢)

Occasionally, the ISBN on the back of a book will not match the title of the book. The correct ISBN can usually be found inside. For example the outside ISBN for Stasheef's The Secular Wizard (0449908593) is the same as that for Prizes by Erich Segal. The inside ISBN (0345376005) is the correct one.

UPC to ISBN conversion

Some US and Canadian books have a UPC barcode on the back rather than an ISBN. This can be converted to an ISBN using the following UPC vendor code to ISBN vendor code translations. (This list is incomplete.) Cuecats can capture the UPC values, which can be converted to ISBN for LT entry (if you're a whizz with MS Excel - Patentnonsense describes his efforts in this thread).

First Number - Country of Issue (0 = US, 1 = UK) Second Number - Publisher's house Third Number - publication order number of book Last digit - check number

UPC vendor code ISBN vendor code
018926 0445
027778 0449
037145 0812
042799 0785
043144 0688
044903 0312
045863 0517
046594 0694
047132 0152
051487 0816
051488 0140
060771 0002
065373 0373
070992 0523
070993 0446
070999 0345
071001 0380
071009 0440
071125 0886
071136 0451
071149 0451
071152 0515
071162 0451
071268 0821
071831 0425
071842 0843
072742 0441
076714 0671
076783 0553
076814 0449
078021 0872
079808 0394
090129 0679
099455 0061
099769 0451
034057 093187
034057 155560
037145 0765
050694 0345
076714 0743
077434 0743
645573 1595

References

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