Talk:International Standard Book Number

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Archives of old Discussions - Do Not Move[edit]

Archive 01 (Jan 05 – March 05 Archived) Old and outdated talk moved to Talk:International_Standard_Book_Number/Archive01 As was confused (especially with date order) with the talk being moved above. // FrankB 17:59, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

Archive 02 (April 1, 2005 to December 31, 2007)

Archive 03 (January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2009)

Archive 04 (January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2010)

Move Proposal Discussion - FIXED Discussion, do not Archive for now[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

No consensus to move. Vegaswikian (talk) 21:48, 17 March 2010 (UTC)

International Standard Book NumberISBNWP:COMMONNAME and this discussion. Note that ISBN redirects here. —Justin (koavf)TCM☯ 19:57, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

Oppose - There are two names that are about equally good. When you need a short form, use 'ISBN', as in 'ISBN agencies.' When you want a more informative name, use 'International Standard Book Number.' I don't see the benefit of changing the name on the article. Both the short and the long form get many millions of Google hits, so the advice under WP:ABBR#Acronyms as words in article titles suggests that the MOS will let us go either way on this. EdJohnston (talk) 21:29, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Question What is the other name that could be "ISBN"? ISBN redirects here and there is no hatnote to see something else. —Justin (koavf)TCM☯ 00:28, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
Can you say more about this? I'm not perceiving the problem. 'ISBN' redirects to only one place. It does not require disambiguation, so there is no hatnote on ISBN. EdJohnston (talk) 00:42, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
Ah I thought you meant there are two equally good meanings to "ISBN" not that "ISBN" and "International Standard Book Number" are equally good. I see now. Thanks for your time. —Justin (koavf)TCM☯ 23:07, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose per WP:NAME: "Abbreviations and acronyms are generally avoided [as article titles] unless the subject is almost exclusively known by its abbreviation." I don't think this is such a case. Deor (talk) 23:29, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose For the reasons given by EdJohnston and Deor. Whilst common, ISBN isn't common enough to justify changing the page title. Skinsmoke (talk) 17:44, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
  • weak Support. Partially per precedent: NATO, OPEC, HTML. The only example I tried that didn't follow the pattern was CSS (a redirect to cascading style sheets), or those that led to disambig pages (DRM, etc). Partially, because I've never heard/seen the full title referred to outside of Wikipedia articles; everyone uses/refers to "the ISBN". Either way is fine though. Not important enough to argue over. -- Quiddity (talk) 01:56, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Clean Up and Synopsis rewrite[edit]

I am going to clean up the first part and add some material.

Prior to doing this I am going to make a list of fixes and changes. Then archive all the comments. Then a first draft rewrite. Is there anybody maintaining this?

Thanks meatclerk (talk) 11:04, 26 February 2011 (UTC)

"Standard Book Numbering" redirects here...[edit] can someone tell me where to find the article on "Standard Book Number", which the British used until 1974? This article has just about no information on it. Sincerely, SamBlob (talk) 21:52, 24 May 2011 (UTC)

The original Standard Book Number is actually mentioned in the lead sentence, but if you blink you could miss it. See ".. based upon the 9-digit Standard Book Numbering (SBN) code created by Gordon Foster.." EdJohnston (talk) 01:23, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

have added a line on converting the SBN number to ISBN format. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:08, 23 May 2012 (UTC)

Does each book have only one ISBN?[edit]

When looking at books listed in a major online book-store, I see that all the English-language books I encounter have two ISBNs: one starting "ISBN-10:" and the other starting "ISBN-13:" I assume the 10 and 13 refer to the checking system. But the two numbers (i.e., that which follows the 13 and 10 respectively are different. Kdammers (talk) 01:11, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

See The ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 numbers for the same book should differ only in the prefix and the check digit. Eventually the ISBN-10 will disappear. EdJohnston (talk) 01:36, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Here is an example where that does not seem to be the case (and I could add scores from the same source): 저자 : Stine, R. L. | 출판사 : Scholastic Paperbacks

교보문고 적립금은 다릅니다 모을 필요 없는 정직한 적립금 -10원의 적립금도 언제든지 사용 가능합니다. 온/오프 구별없는 통합 적립금 -한 번의 적립으로 인터넷에선 물론, 교보문고 전국지점 어디서나 사용할 수 있습니다. 중간 절차 없는 간편한 적립금 -상품평을 쓰거나 구매확인을 해야하는 불편한 적립금이 아닙니다 적립금은 구매하신 상품의 적립률에 따라 지급되며, 고객님의 주문이 출고 완료된 후 자동 적립됩니다. 쿠폰 또는 적립금 사용 시, 예상 적립금은 변동될 수 있습니다. (주문 후 취소, 출고 후 반품시에는 해당 적립금은 다시 차감 됩니다.)

출간일 : 2008년 11월 | 123쪽 | 언어 : English | ISBN-10 : 0545035228 / ISBN-13 : 9780545035224 Kdammers (talk) 01:49, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

The pattern is followed. The prefix '978' is on the ISBN-13 and not the ISBN-10. The two numbers also differ in their final digit since that is the check digit. EdJohnston (talk) 02:46, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

ISBN-13 check one module too much?[edit]

The check for ISBN-13 appears to be incorrect. The entire calculation is twice mod 10, which seems redundant. Can anyone confirm this? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:50, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

Also, the Java code appears to have an error. In the first "for", it should be "< 13" (as is in the C/C++ and PHP code). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:22, 23 May 2012 (UTC)

Later SBN usage[edit]

An interesting oddity I've just noticed: [some?] Heinemann books continued to quote SBNs on their title page as late as 1984 editions. They're valid ISBNs, of course, they just hadn't changed to the ten-digit format and still printed them without leading zeroes. Old habits die hard... Shimgray | talk | 13:30, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

Bug In ISBN-10 C++ Code[edit]

It doesn't account for an 'X' check digit (represents 10). (talk) 07:56, 25 December 2011 (UTC)

I agree. The C++ code is broken and should be fixed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:45, 25 January 2012 (UTC)

Also, the C++ code (and possibly the other code) doesn't appear to take into account the place value weighting. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:05, 16 July 2012 (UTC)

I see that the C/C++ code and some of the others have a "return check%10==0" instead of "return check%10==digits[12]". In order to check the validity of the ISBN, you are supposed to compare the checksum to the 13th digit, right? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:40, 25 September 2013 (UTC)

Reference 20 is down[edit]

The reference 20 (ISBN guide) is down, making the whole article only "probably valid" :-) (I'm quite sure it's fine, but anyway) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:00, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Americanization of the ISBN Issuance Section[edit]

The way the section on ISBN issuance was written it was possible to read it so that people in the other 150 plus countries had to buy their ISBNs from Bowker in the United States. I had been wondering (I'm a Canadian Publisher) where the incorrect information was coming from, and I suspect they've all been getting it here. I've made a change to distract from the American centric viewpoint, but it is nearly 3:30 AM, and I'll admit that I'm two thirds asleep, so what I wrote may not make a lot of sense. There needs to be more stress at the start of the section on each country handling their own ISBN issuance, with Bowker, Collections Canada, and whoever else mentioned at the end I think. That should help steer people in the right direction for their country. UrbanTerrorist (talk) 08:28, 11 February 2012 (UTC)

I've re-written this section, and moved it to the main body, where it makes more sense. I'm still not happy with it though. UrbanTerrorist (talk) 22:01, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the wikification of the section Peter E. James, wikification has always been one of my weaknesses. UrbanTerrorist (talk) 05:03, 25 February 2012 (UTC)

Open-source alternative to ISBN?[edit]

Given the extortionate costs and what appears to be illegal restraint of trade, I was looking for an alternative to the commercial ISBN number system. Unfortunately, this isn't easy because anything like "open-source isbn" immediately brings up numerous books on open source ... rather than the intended search item. So, it's very difficult to know whether it does not exist, I'm not searching with the right terms, etc. So, I tried, here, but apart from spotting a few other people who thing this whole system stinks, I couldn't see any project or alternatives to the commercial ISBN system. Is this correct? Is this one anti-competition, and as far as I can see illegal (in EU law) scheme has no alternatives? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:11, 14 July 2012‎

There is no widely-used alternative publishing identifier for books. There have been some national variants (I keep meaning to research the JBN) and at various times some publishers have used different schemes entirely, but none have really got wide traction.
The ISBN as it currently exists is certainly tied very closely to the bookselling industry, which is not much of a surprise given they designed and implemented the scheme for their own inventory-control purposes, but I don't think you can reasonably describe it as "anti-competition" or presumptively illegal. Andrew Gray (talk) 22:12, 17 August 2012 (UTC)

Bugs in the System[edit]

Shouldn't the article bring up the inherent bug, still not fixed, that you can't publish a two-volume set with ISBN? [1] Geĸrίtzl (talk) 17:35, 17 August 2012 (UTC)

There's three main approaches - one ISBN for the whole set, individual ISBNs for each volume, or a combination of ISBNs for each volume plus one "set" ISBN, giving, say, four numbers for a three-volume set. Andrew Gray (talk) 22:09, 17 August 2012 (UTC)

upgrade PHP 13[edit]

// PHP
function is_ISBN13_valid($n){
	if ( ! is_string($n)) return FALSE; // only strings accepted
	$n = preg_replace('/\D/', '', $n); // remove everything but digits
	if (strlen($n) != 13) return FALSE; // ISBN must have exactly 13 digits
	$check = 0; // reset
	for ($i = 0; $i < 13; $i++) $check += $i % 2 ? 3 * $n[$i] : $n[$i]; // multiply every second digit by 3
	return ! ($check % 10); // return TRUE if division by 10 has no remainder

or simplified version

// PHP
function is_ISBN13_valid($n){
	$check = 0;
	for ($i = 0; $i < 13; $i++) $check += $i % 2 ? 3 * $n[$i] : $n[$i];
	return ! ($check % 10);

Could someone double check? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ultrabutter (talkcontribs) 20:16, 6 September 2012 (UTC)


Do all books have an ISBN number? Is it limited to publishers or something? Pass a Method talk 22:18, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

Change the ISBN link[edit]

At present the "ISBN" part of an ISBN link goes to the WP article International Standard Book Number. It is an awfully complicated and in-depth treatment of the subject (which is a good thing of course). BTW it is No 92 on in the popularity list. I have created Help:ISBN as part of a reader help series. It is short and to the point - something that readers probable want for this sort of thing - so I propose that the ISBN link is changed to the new help page. I propose that the link is removed per the discussion below. -- Alan Liefting (talk - contribs) 02:29, 15 February 2013 (UTC)

We don't need both the new Help:ISBN and the longstanding WP:ISBN. Mr Stephen (talk) 17:44, 15 February 2013 (UTC)
Why not? -- Alan Liefting (talk - contribs) 21:38, 15 February 2013 (UTC)
Broadly speaking, Wikipedia needs more pages in the WP, MOS and Help namepaces as much as it needs a network outage. Had you announced that you had culled and merged a thousand of these pages I would have considered you for a barnstar. A better response to your problem ("the WP article ... is an awfully complicated and in-depth treatment") is to improve the article. Mr Stephen (talk) 11:49, 16 February 2013 (UTC)
Help:ISBN looks to be useful for *readers* and WP:ISBN could assist *editors*. A person who wants to add an ISBN to a reference needs to see a longer explanation. Alan has suggested (above) that WP:ISBN is awfully complicated but I see it as being just as complex as the subject requires. The ISBN system is out there with all its wrinkles and quirks and our editors have to learn to navigate it. Advice to editors like 'avoid using the syntax ISBN-10' ought to be provided in some form, because otherwise the encyclopedia fills up with incorrect references. EdJohnston (talk) 15:48, 16 February 2013 (UTC)
I have pondered the ISBN-10 vs ISBN-13 digit ISBN usage and I do use the ISBN-13 digit if Zotero offers it up. Do you have a ref for preferring ISBN-13 digit? We should add that info to WP:ISBN. -- Alan Liefting (talk - contribs) 21:50, 16 February 2013 (UTC)
Mr Stephen, we as editors are tasked with looking after 4,591,311 articles that can be freely edited. Without extensive MOS pages, guidelines and policies WP would be seething with even more unnecessary editing than that what we are currently seeing. There is a need to clean up a lot of the project pages and there is a need to have a stronger separation of editor and reader help pages (something I have been working on for a while). -- Alan Liefting (talk - contribs) 21:50, 16 February 2013 (UTC)
Agreed; and thank your for doing so. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 20:29, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
I think Alan Liefting's proposal is very sensible. Readers of Wikipedia don't need the same detailed explanation of ISBNs that editors need.Fagles (talk) 18:59, 18 February 2013 (UTC)
I would be comfortable with this (or even with delinking the word ISBN altogether, as I suspect it causes more confusion than it solves). Andrew Gray (talk) 19:13, 21 February 2013 (UTC)
I don't like having the ISBN and the number as adjacent links and am happy with not linking "ISBN". I have placed Help:ISBN as a hatnote on the Wikipedia:BookSources page {which is substed in Special:BookSources) so there is no real need to have ISBN linked anywhere. Ideally we should do a reader survey to see what they actually want. -- Alan Liefting (talk - contribs) 00:56, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
Certainly in my introductory workshops (where I always point out ISBNs as a useful resource) I've found that the ISBN link is often clicked by accident (or by not noticing it's a seperate link), causing frustration and sometimes just bafflement. Unlinking it (and DOI, etc) would probably have the net result of making the interface simpler and less confusing, which can only be a good thing! Do you know what page we'd have to edit to change this behaviour, though? It's a hardcoded magic-word rather than a normal template. Andrew Gray (talk) 01:12, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
That's a good enough reason for me to have the link removed. I will talk to the tech heads to see how it can be changed. -- Alan Liefting (talk - contribs) 01:27, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
I support this proposal to remove the link, as the link stacking is undesirable, and what most of the readers and editors are probably interested in are the library catalogues that contain the cited book (i.e. Special:BookSources). This special page currently contains a link to Help:ISBN, but in my opinion a link to International Standard Book Number would be welcome too. That is, "given the 10- or 13-digit ISBN number" should be replaced with "given the 10- or 13 digit [[International Standard Book Number|ISBN number]]". --Eleassar my talk 10:30, 23 February 2013 (UTC)
I too think there may be some wisdom in delinking ISBN from the cite templates. Jason Quinn (talk) 07:05, 24 February 2013 (UTC)

Umm, what link are you talking about? ISBN 1234567890, seems to be all one link to me. Can you give an example of what link you mean and exactly what you would want changed? Dragons flight (talk) 05:06, 22 February 2013 (UTC)

Ah. Yes. You are right. Looks like it is the {cite} templates that do it. Here is an example:
  • Carr, Edward Hallett (1972). What is history? : the George Macauley Trevelyan lectures delivered in the University of Cambridge, January-March 1961. Harmondsworth; Ringwood: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-020652-3. 
Am glad there are wiser heads out there! -- Alan Liefting (talk - contribs) 06:21, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
That link is added to Citation Style 1 and other templates through {{citation/identifier}}: you can certainly request a change on the talk. You should make the same request at Module talk:Citation/CS1, as we will be updating templates to Lua in the future. --— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 14:06, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
BTW: the magic linking for ISBN outside of templates such as ISBN 978-0-471-70410-2 is done through Parser.php. --— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 14:34, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
Done. -- Alan Liefting (talk - contribs) 00:39, 23 February 2013 (UTC)
All the other identifiers linked through the cite templates also include a link explaining what those mysterious initials "doi" "ISBN" "MR" "Zbl" "PMID" etc. stand for. This seems helpful and informative to me and I don't see a good reason for eliminating it. —David Eppstein (talk) 20:59, 23 February 2013 (UTC)
I made the same point at Template talk:Citation. If ISBN is worth removing, then so MR, SSRN, ZBL and the like. The core template supports 18 identifiers, and any number can be added through |id=; all of which link the identifier abbreviation. --— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 21:32, 23 February 2013 (UTC)
There are a few reasons for removing all of the links to MR, SSRN, ZBL and the like:
  • they are adjacent links
  • the number is more important
  • it is confusing for newbies
  • if the acronyms are mysterious the reader can always do a Wikipedia search for their meaning
Assuming they are presented in the same style as ISBN. -- Alan Liefting (talk - contribs) 01:44, 24 February 2013 (UTC)
I don't think "If things are mysterious they can Google it" is an appropriate attitude for building a usable online encyclopedia. What are wikilinks for, if not this? —David Eppstein (talk) 02:12, 24 February 2013 (UTC)
Ok, ignore that reason but still, on balance, the links are better left out. As I stated earlier for the ISBN case an explanation and link at Wikipedia:Book sources. -- Alan Liefting (talk - contribs) 02:24, 24 February 2013 (UTC)
Is the ISBN not better known than any of these, though? The general public are usually hazy on exactly what it means (the edition/work distinction is particularly opaque), but IME most people seem to know that at least "ISBN" = "book-related thing" in some way, whereas even as a librarian I had to stop and look up "Zbl" or "MR". Andrew Gray (talk) 19:05, 24 February 2013 (UTC)
That is probably true so we could just concentrate on that link. -- Alan Liefting (talk - contribs) 03:15, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
  • My normal practice is to give the isbn-13 if available, without dashes. I normally do not worry about just which isbn to use--libraries typically enter every possible isbn in a cataloging record, so any of them will find the book. For older books where there is no isbn I use OCLC is available, There will be some older non-English-language books where neither is available, and i add what iI can find. There is no real need in a WP reference to add all the numbers. However, I consider it a sound principle not to remove numbers that others have added. The reason libraries use redundant numbering schemes is that any one of them may be in error-- they all have a significant error rate. In particular, for nation bibliography numbers added by national or international agencies in other countries for their own countries books,, if they are in the article, I certainly would never remove them, and I advise others not to so so either. there's a real risk of losing information. The library principle is based on a very simple consideration: don't remove information because it is of no immediate use or you because you do not understand it. It is because of this very conservative principel that we have the preent interoperability of and universal usability of cataloging records.
The situation is changing. what will catalyze the change at WP is the availability of WikiData, which will provide a unified store for bibliographic information, This is not their highest priority, and planning is at an early stage. i swill certainly advise them to include all possible role numbers and bibliographic identifiers to provide as complete a record as possible for international use. (But Iam not advising them to copy the full cataloging record from LC or elsewhere--it is enough to link to it. Much of what is there is specific to library purposes, including the need to identify individual copies in individual libraries and to link to the record of book orders from publishers and dealers. DGG ( talk ) 17:21, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
To clarify, the proposal isn't to remove the linked ISBNs themselves, which will still be present & still point to Special:Booksources; it's just to amend the link so that the word "ISBN" doesn't link to this particular page. Andrew Gray (talk) 17:28, 25 February 2013 (UTC)

A hatnote on Special:Booksources, linking to an ISBN-related help page, should suffice. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 20:33, 10 March 2013 (UTC)

Official documentation of ISBN-10's check digit seems to be wrong[edit]

The old ISBN-10 documentation says to multiplicate the ISBN numbers by the sequence 10 to 2. This doesn't seem to be right, since all the ISBN-10 numbers mentioned in chapter Registrant element are calculated by the sequence 1 to 9. Furthermore, both sequences return the same check digit for the ISBNs 9971-5-0210-0 and 960-425-059-0.

Sequence 10 to 2:

 \text{99921-58-10-7} &= \big((10\times 9)+(9\times 9)+(8\times 9)+(7\times 2)+(6\times 1)+(5\times 5)+(4\times 8)+(3\times 1)+(2\times 0)\big)\mod{11} \\
   &= 323\mod{11}\\
   &= 4 \ne 7

Sequence 1 to 9:

 \text{99921-58-10-7} &= \big((1\times 9)+(2\times 9)+(3\times 9)+(4\times 2)+(5\times 1)+(6\times 5)+(7\times 8)+(8\times 1)+(9\times 0)\big)\mod{11} \\
   &= 161\mod{11}\\
   &= 7

Sequence 10 to 2:

 \text{0-8044-2957-X} &= \big((10 \times 0)+(9 \times 8)+(8 \times 0)+(7 \times 4)+(6 \times 4)+(5 \times 2)+(4 \times 9)+(3 \times 5)+(2 \times 7)\big)\mod{11} \\
   &= 199\mod{11}\\
   &= 1 \ne \text{X}

Sequence 1 to 9:

 \text{0-8044-2957-X} &= \big((1\times 0)+(2\times 8)+(3\times 0)+(4\times 4)+(5\times 4)+(6\times 2)+(7\times 9)+(8\times 5)+(9\times 7)\big)\mod{11} \\
   &= 230\mod{11}\\
   &= 10 = \text{X}

What to do now? --Carminox (talk) 04:52, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

Uniqueness of ISBN's[edit]

ISBN's are not unique; I worked in the publishing industry and there are LOTS of ISBN's that are assigned to more than one book. They are assigned to books that don't even share the same title, subject or whatever...

I'd rather start the discussion here than go into the article and change stuff only to have it reverted by a bot. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:36, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

Citation? Examples? Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 20:58, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
ISBN 1-55902-983-8 appears to be used for an entire collection of literary classics - I have "The Time Machine" by H.G. Wells under that ISBN, but if you check out some of the sources autolinked by Wikipedia for that ISBN, you can see that it is far from unique. Yevuard (talk) 01:59, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

Researcher asking for advice[edit]

Hi, I'm a researcher working with massive data sets and I'm trying to find a wiki editor or anyone else who could advise me on the following:

  • I would like to download/parse for each ISBN (each book) a time stamp and the ISBNs of books it cites. Does this data set exist anywhere in any format? Thanks a lot!
  • I intend to do statistical tests on the data set as a whole, and I'm aware that (similarly to other large data sets) this one is not going be perfect, etc. Well, thanks anyhow for any comments you may have!

-- fij (talk) 14:13, 28 August 2013 (UTC)