When it comes to looking for references, you need to use the right kind of books. We should know more about them to ensure that we get the best references for our projects. Books are identified with ISBN and when we asked to specific books for our science projects at schools and colleges, ISBN is often included. For many people, ISBN looks more like typical bar code, but in the book publishing industry, it is considered as an important system of identification. ISBN is essentially a 13-digit numbering system that was conceptualized by Gordon Foster. We need to read ISBN from left to right, which can be separated by hyphen or space. Older 10-digit ISBN is consisted of 4 parts, while current 13-digit ISBN has five parts.
You should know ISBN doesn’t really have fixed digit and in the future, the length of ISBN can be expanded. The first three numbers in the 13-digit ISBN is known as GS1 prefix. This prefix is used for supply chain management and these three initial numbers are assigned for individual publisher. However, 978 and 979 prefixes are usually already assigned for all publishers. However, you should know that the GS1 system wasn’t included in the original ISBN convention, but with the current longer ISBN, this prefix already finds its way into the system. The GS1 prefix is also known as the International Article Number or the European Article Number. Group Identifier is the next component of ISBN, which is consisted of the 4th and 5th numbers.
In the earlier 10-digit system, the Group Identifier was the 1st and 2nd numbers. They are used to indicate the language of the book. More common language has shorter group identifier, while rarer language has longer group identifier. As an example, English language books use 0 or 1 for group identifier. Books from French speaking countries use “2” for the group identifier. 3 is used for German, 4 for Japanese, 5 for Russian and 7 for Chinese. Another component in ISBN system is the Publisher Code, which can be consisted between 1 to 9 digits. These numbers are allocated for ISBN agency. Each agency gets allocations of number and if they have used up their numbers, more blocks can be assigned. It means that Publishers Codes in ISBN may not always be sequential or uniform.
Item Number is the fourth part of the ISBN system and it is referred to the book title. This part also has different length. Check Digit is the final and fifth part of ISBN, which only uses one digit. This digit is used for error detection and it can be determined using specific calculation, based on previous digits in ISBN. You should know that each edition of the same book has unique ISBN, so if you are asked to get a book for references purposes, the ISBN will tell you about what edition it is. It is important to know that older books have much shorter ISBN due to outdated convention. However, newer books should already use 10-digit or 13-digit arrangement.